The sermon last Sunday at my church was also about courage. There is an organization called International Justice Mission. Mark Wallenberg, new director for IJM in Canada, spoke to us. The purpose of IJM is to rescue present-day slaves (I think I heard him say there are an estimated 80 million slaves in the world today), provide after-care to help them re-enter freedom, prosecute the slave owners and others who are complicit, and to encourage nations to adjust their justice systems so that slavery will be unable to flourish.
They do this by sending under-cover operatives into places of slavery, posing as customers, with hidden cameras and voice recorders to get hard evidence for the eventual court cases. When they have the proof they need, they enlist the assistance of local police and raid the place, arresting the perpetrators and rescuing the victims. Lawyers work with the local justice system to bring the current laws of the country to bear on those arrested. It's a dangerous job and requires much courage.
Wallenberg encouraged us to pray for the courage to fight injustice, inviting those who felt called to courage to stand and those around them would pray. I stood. I will likely never be part of a sting operation to free slaves, but there is injustice all around us. I remember seeing a crowd of boys beating up on someone on a busy street corner. I didn't stop, but I should have, and have wished since that I had. Given the location of my church, I'm likely to encounter other examples of injustice. What will I do? Give in to fear and ignore it or trust God to help me confront it? I hope the latter.
At small group on Tuesday, I asked for prayer about my book launch. I've never planned and organized an event like this before and I'm doing it alone (with people to assist but no one able to direct). I want the launch to be God-honouring and for the right people (whoever they may be) to attend. Will there be only five attending or will the 200 chairs I've asked for be filled and overflowing? I have no idea. Will I be able to face those in attendance and share parts of my story? The one who prayed for me asked God to give me courage.
The writing, publishing and promoting of Searching for Love has been one of the scariest things I've ever done. I need a lot of courage to keep taking the next step and moving forward as God directs me. Will I lose friends because of what I'm exposing about myself? Will I face anger, animosity and hostility from those who oppose my position on homosexuality? I don't know but the possibility is frightening.
I bought three books about IJM on Sunday, and finished reading the first in two days (it's very good!), so Wednesday I looked at which of the remaining two I would read next. The one I chose is called Just Courage: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian by Gary A. Haugen. There's that word "courage" again!
Dallas Willard is quoted by Haugen as saying:
"We don't believe something by merely saying we believe it, or even when we believe we believe it. We believe something when we act as if it were true."To do that takes courage. It takes courage to behave as though God is my Protector and go into the dangerous places he calls me to, that he will take care of me financially even when I give generously, that I truly can entrust my children and husband to his care and direction without interference with me, that God is bigger than whatever problem I'm wrestling with and wait with patient expectation of what he will do, to go up to a stranger with the words or question God has given me for them or to turn the other cheek when someone is cruel.
Deborah the Courageous. My name is Deborah. Am I courageous? I want to be.