The book is divided into seven sections: Transforming Justice, Stop, See, Open, Choose, Ask, Proclaim, and Remember.
I’ll begin by getting my mild criticisms out of the way. First, I feel the tone of the book is a bit too professional. Hoang feels superhuman when writing of her college days, love of Scripture, evening hymn sings with her family and times of stillness and prayer at the office. It’s easy to get the impression that she’s never stopped caring, that she’s faithfully practiced all these disciplines as long as she’s known them. It was hard for me to relate at times. This is balanced some, however, by her descriptions of how hard it can be for her to stop and rest or pray. It’s also her first book, so it’s fair to say that she’s still finding her voice. In the end, it may simply be a matter of taste.
International Justice Mission (IJM) is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. Jim Martin is Vice President of Church Mobilization at IJM where he helps churches understand issues of injustice and engage in working to end violent oppression.
Q: Would you please share what prompted you to write The Just Church, and what your main objective was in writing the book at this time?
A: One day I had the realization that it was just a matter of time before I walked in to a bookstore and saw a book with the words “Justice” and “Church” in the title. Having been in ministry for eighteen years—ten of those as a pastor at a church passionate about justice, I realized I had a pretty specific perspective about what kind of book would be most helpful. I wanted to be sure that any book that encouraged churches to engage in justice in a hands-on way would make a strong connection between justice and discipleship rather than simply justice and mission. A few nanoseconds later I realized that, given IJM’s experience with churches over the last decade, we should write that book. I was just at the right place at the right time.
A review of Jim Martin’s new book, The Just Church.
“My faith, my theology, my life experience, simply could not accomodate Marta’s story. I wanted to unlearn what I’d just heard–to purge it from my mind. But that was impossible. I racked my brain for some comforting thought, some idea, some theological construct, some passage of Scripture that would quench the fire of emotion raging in my chest. I was uncomfortable with the level of anger I was feeling–rage, even–toward anyone who would destroy the lives of children like the ones in the pictures before me. But at the failure point, there is no such help, no easy answer. The faith I had brought with me to Peru simply failed” (The Just Church, p. 39).
So Jim Martin describes his first up-close encounter with violent injustice. What he describes is remarkably similar to the first time I heard the stories: Stories that begin with someone’s dignity being ripped away by someone more powerful and end with the hopeful response of God’s people resulting in rescue and rehabilitation.