Tag Archives: justice

The precious words of God

Psalm 12

In my personal Bible studies I am still sloooowly working my way through the Psalms. There is so much to love in those pages that I am taking my time and dwelling on each one. I make detailed notes, which I have been using to write some of these posts. If you followed my old blog, you may have noticed that these jumped about all over the place, and when I moved to WordPress I decided to be a bit more systematic: starting from the beginning of the Psalms and working my way through. I don’t manage to read and reflect on Scripture everyday, but I am working on this as I think it is vital when studying theology not to forget the point – which is to love God with my whole mind as well as my heart, soul and strength. My notes have got a few Psalms ahead of my blogs, so this week I have been looking back at my reflections on Psalm 12.

If I could meet any Bible character to sit down and have a chat, David would be pretty high on my list. He is such an interesting person – a warrior poet, a shepherd king, a messed-up man after God’s own heart. I often find the Psalms resonate with my experiences today, and Psalm 12 is no different.

In this Psalm, David feels isolated, like he is the only person around who is faithful to God (and this is actually quite common for Bible characters – Noah and Elijah, to name a couple, felt similarly isolated in their faith). David feels like he is surrounded by deceitful people, those who boast and flatter, and he wants God to bring truth to the situation.

The Psalm seems to take a jump here, to God speaking up on behalf of the poor and needy – but one thing I’ve realised as I’ve been looking more into issues of social justice is that deceit is a big part of the mechanisms of injustice, whether it is to trick someone into slavery, to cover up a crime or to keep someone trapped in a life they haven’t chosen. God sees all of this and He is a God of justice who will act – often through us – to free the oppressed. He keeps His promises to us, and He will protect those who seek His help.

Sometimes trying to live God’s way is a lonely and isolating experience, especially in a culture that is increasingly at odds with what we believe, but God is always with us and strengthens us to live for Him. Sometimes those around us will deceive us, and sometimes our culture and the media will try to convince us that we are idiots for wanting to believe in God and live a way that honours Him. Instead we need to listen to what God says – primarily in His Word, the Bible, but also through Christian friends and older, wiser people in our churches. Because, as David says, “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace” (v6) – they are true, clear and precious, and He will not lead us astray.

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And soon it will be #Dressember…

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So last weekend I didn’t manage to write a post as I was in London. I had the amazing privilege to be present at the first UK conference of the International Justice Mission (IJM), called Make Darkness Light. I say privilege because I was humbled to hear of the brilliant work this charity is doing in some of the toughest places in the world.

I am not quite sure how I first heard about IJM. I think it was at a screening of the Nefarious film (produced by another great charity called Exodus Cry). After the film, there were stalls for various charities working to fight trafficking, and I signed up to a few mailing lists, including IJM’s.

I have been receiving IJM emails for some time now, and I confess the majority ended up in the deleted items file, unread. But then in the summer I was accepted onto a Masters course in Theology, and picked modules concerning social justice issues for my speciality. I had been interested in the issue of human trafficking for a number of years but always pushed it to the back of my mind because I didn’t really know what I could do about it. So in choosing the social justice modules I was admitting to myself that this was an issue I really cared about, and that it was high time I learnt what I could do to help.

The next email I received from IJM was an invitation to the conference. I straightaway knew I wanted to go, but even though tickets were not expensive, at the time I had no job and less money, and was unsure how I would be able to go. I mentioned it to my Dad, and he said to leave it for a week or to (there were a few weeks of early-bird discount left) and see what happened. Later that week we went out for coffee with my Nan. She asked if there was anything particular I wanted for my birthday this year. I couldn’t think of anything, but then my Dad mentioned the conference and my Nan offered to buy my ticket as a birthday present. A few days later I booked my ticket.

The whole day was full of heartbreaking stories mixed with great hope about what could be done to help. We lifted up in prayer the IJM staff, the victims, the perpetrators, and the local justice systems. Where we knew names, we prayed for individuals. Where we could not find the words, we let our tears be our prayers. We worshiped the God who is stronger than the powers of this world and who cares about the poor and the oppressed. And we were encouraged to act – to raise money, to raise awareness, to be a voice for the voiceless.

IJM work in some of the world’s poorest countries, where violence and oppression are a part of daily life, where millions of people are trapped in slavery, trafficked and forced to work in horrendous situations, stripped of their rights and their voice. When IJM hear of victims of slavery, sexual exploitation or violent oppression they work hard to rescue the victims, restore their health and dignity, get them counselling when needed, train them in new skills and help them to avoid becoming trapped again. But this is not all they do. They work closely with the local justice systems of that country to take the perpetrators to court, to try to prevent them from commiting the same crimes again. They do not win every case, but in working in the system they find all the loopholes, the corruption, the structures that keep the victims victims and allow the perpetrators to get away with their crimes. With this knowledge they can start to change the systems from the inside. They are also working with our government to keep the issue of slavery on the agenda.

Trafficking is a huge problem in our world, and I can’t not do something about it any more. In December I will be raising awareness of the issue of slavery and the work of IJM (and hopefully raising some money too!) by joining women all over the world in taking part in Dressember. For the 31 days of December, I will be wearing dresses everyday, to stand in solidarity with women worldwide who are victims of oppression.

I will be taking a photo of my outfit each day, and posting it online with the hashtag #Dressember. (if you want to see the pictures, they will appear on my old tumblr blog: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/squishymeanderings and on my personal twitter feed: @cerilouise_87)

I have also created a fundraising page at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Ceridressember if you would like to donate, and UK taxpayers can giftaid their donations. If you are in the USA, it’s better for you to sponsor me through Dressember’s own site, so you can do your tax-related thing… Go to http://www.dressemberfoundation.org, click on give, then ‘support a specific participant’ and search for me (Ceri Webb).

To find out more about the work of IJM and sign up to their mailing list, visit their website here: https://www.ijmuk.org

And ladies, It’s not to late to join us – check out the Dressember website for how you can get involved.

27 million people trapped in slavery is not okay. Speak up. Raise awareness. Be a voice for the voiceless.