Can you imagine a fantasy-land where law enforcement does not exist? Wouldn’t it be great? You could drive as fast as you want, go wherever you want, do whatever you want without any consequence at all!
This utopian society does in fact exist, however it’s not as glorious as it may seem. In this fantasy-land crimes are going punished, criminals are walking away free, and the law enforcement of the land becomes the perpetrator of the crimes rather than the protector.
This dream-world seems very far removed, almost alien, from the life that most of us lead today. The unfortunate truth is this is the life that the poor of the world face each and every day.
Generally when we see the poor in developing countries we notice things like lack of food, lack of clean water, lack of medical attention and so on. At times we may even scratch the surface and see some darker issues such as child prostitution. Rarely do we go to the true depths of violence that plagues the poor of the world.
Our hearts are broken so we provide food, clean water, and medical supplies. Although this is a great help to those that are in need, it only addresses a symptom of the problem and not the problem itself.
What we don’t see is the rapes that go on behind closed doors. We don’t see the beatings that modern-day slaves face daily. We don’t hear the cries of the family who lost everything to an unjust legal system. We are oblivious to the criminals who prey on the lives of the poor.
And they are too ashamed to tell us.
I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of Gary Haugen’s new book The Locust Effect. Gary is the founder of the International Justice Mission and has given his life to helping to bring justice to those who have no voice. This book exposes the truth of violence against the poor in countries all around the world.
Why are the poor affected by violence more than anyone else? It’s simple. They have no recourse. They have no protection. They have no that will run to their aid when they are in need.
In many of the developing countries the rule is: he who has the most money wins. If you have money you can afford protection for your family. If you have money you can bail a family member out of jail that was imprisoned merely on an accusation. If you have money you can hire a lawyer to represent you in court.
If you don’t have money…you have no protection. No safety. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.
As you can imagine, this becomes very demoralizing.
In the 1870’s many people were trying to build a new life on the Great Plains. The years were difficult but progress was slowly made. One particular year their hard work finally paid off and they were rewarded with plentiful crops. But their joy was short-lived.
In the distance they saw a dark cloud slowly approaching their crops and homes. Billions of locust descended on their homesteads and left them utterly barren. Crops were destroyed. Lives were ruined. As a result many died from the plague
If we saw the plight of these unfortunate souls we may be tempted to offer them seeds to start new crops. But new crops are now a year away. What they need is help…now. And what is the point of planting new crops if they will only be ravaged by locust again?
In much the same way we try to help the poor of the world but if we ignore the violence they are suffering our help falls desperately short.
What helpful is it to provide schooling for girls when many of them get raped in those very schools?
Is it beneficial to give families with livestock that can provide for their families when they live in fear for their lives every night?
How good is it to offer medical help for HIV victims when many of those have contracted the disease from violent rape?
As I think about these things I came to the conclusion that I value safety and protection far above many other necessities of life. I don’t know about you, but I would rather scrape by close to starvation rather than living in fear that my girls will be sexually abused on a regular basis. What good is food if I am terrified for the lives of those I love?
Yes, the poor need food and water and medical attention. But they need safety. Many of the poor are actually capable of taking care of themselves. They can provide for their families if the cloud of violence was lifted from their head.
This all seems very grim, but there is hope. Gary shows examples of how justice is being brought to some of the most violent parts of the world, but the work has only just begun.
It is time for followers of Christ, churches, governmental organizations and non-profits to work together to equip and enable local law enforcer agencies and courts to do their job honestly and effective. In some cases violent crime can drastically drops in only a few years
[quote]He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord really wants from you: He wants you to promote justice, to be faithful, and to live obediently before your God. Micah 6:8[/quote]
It is time for us to seek justice for the poor. To protect those that have no protection. And to stand against the force of the world that bring them harm.
Buy a copy of The Locust Effect this week. For every copy sold, a generous friend of IJM will donate $20 to fight violence against the poor.