Balancing the Scales of Justice…
Leo Tolstoy said, “everyone thinks of changing humanity – no one thinks of changing himself.” The temptation in going to an event such as the Justice Conference (which has been fantastic) – is to get overrun with causes and ideas, overstimulation and hype.
Justice, by its very nature, is right thinking married with right action.
I spoke at the conference with the goal to make a hearing for the fatherless. Fatherlessness is the defining characteristic of our generation. This is a personal tragedy – and a collective epidemic. Tonight, some 25 million youth will go to bed without a father in the home. One third of those children will never see their fathers. (Excerpt taken from ‘Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story‘.)
Many of you know the statistics – that fatherlessness is the engine driving some of our countries worst problems: teenage pregnancy, gang violence, drug abuse, self-injury and suicide. A good friend of mine, Kevin, is working closely with one high school in Memphis (link) that has 90 teenage pregnancies. 90. Ninety. Nine-zero. The good news about this story is that these girls are – by and large – keeping their babies. Statistically speaking, fatherless teenage pregnancies account for one-third of our countries abortions. If we want to get serious about reducing the number of abortions – we have to see this.
The gang problem is in our backyard – here in Portland. A few months ago, a boy was shot right outside our office at The Mentoring Project. But Portland is not alone in this. In Los Angeles County, there were 6000 homicides in a recent, five-year period. That is more deaths, in the same period, than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The gang war is America’s silent war. And unlike the sacrifice of our military heroes, these are senseless killings – fatherless boys joining fatherless gangs and shooting other fatherless boys. No longer do we have to travel abroad to find war, America is making war on herself.
The common factor? Fatherlessness.
Fatherlessness is also a key factor in the sex trafficking issue. A lot of people are talking about sex trafficking – but they don’t really have an action step… how do I get involved? I can’t be involved in any raids – and most of us are not trained enough to deal/counsel a girl fresh out of the sex industry. Do I just send money somewhere? Please don’t get me wrong – the awareness and sending money can be a great thing. Even better is making an investment in a young boy or young girl – through mentoring – which is the key preventative action step.
About ten years ago, my favorite rock star Bono teamed with several superstars to create the One Campaign – reducing the debt of Africa. Many prominent Christian leaders joined the chorus and in the past ten years, much has been done. It has been encouraging to see the church come together and send workers, missionaries, aid, money, wells, rock concerts, blood, bicycles, micro-finance and everything else you could possibly think of – to Africa. Some of my good friends are doing this – and it is making a real difference. I feel God must be pleased with this.
At the same time, I would like to make a hearing for the fatherless child that is right here. In America. In your town. Maybe even your next door neighbor. It is time we see the fatherless right in front of us. To take that a step further, we can no longer step over the gang members dying in our streets, the teenage pregnant girl who is deciding if she should keep it, or trafficking victim that is robbed of her life and innocence. We can no longer step over the fatherless child in the ditch – in the name of justice – to send aid to another country. Loving your neighbor means loving the person right in front of you. Justice is not justice unless it helps the person right in front of you.
In the eyes of God, there is no favoritism. The scales of justice are balanced: the international orphan and the fatherless child next door are equals. But from my observation the scales of justice have been tilted, heavily in favor of the international effort – the children in Africa, China, Haiti or Mexico. The scales of justice are imbalanced. The need is right in front of us.
There are fatherless youth and their single moms in each one of our communities. And they are crying out for help. Here is Portland, there are thousands of fatherless youth on waiting lists for a mentor. Thousands. Many of these kids will go five or more years, and never have a mentor. This must change.
Portland is not alone, there are hundreds of thousands of fatherless youth – like an unseen and unreached people group – in every bedroom community in our country. Amazingly enough, many times the fatherless youth and the widow are not even seen in our own churches.
But we are called to see the fatherless. We are called to join our Creator, as John Ronald writes, to be subcreators – co-laborers with Him in protecting, providing and defending the fatherless. It is time we see the fatherless in our community – in our backyard, and to love our neighbor by doing something about it.
We have unparalleled opportunity. The fields are white and ready. When we defend and provide for the fatherless generation, we do these things for the Creator of the universe. A lot of us are not in the place to go to Africa, raid a sex-trafficking warehouse, be on a gang task force, or counsel a young person who is on the verge of suicide. But we can all mentor. We can all “show up” in the life of another in a way that makes a real difference.
March 3, 2012
[...] this could be something you do? My favorite quotes from this article: “…Fatherless boys joining fatherless gangs and [...]