In a world of suffering and corruption, where is God? Does He hear the cries of the oppressed?
February, 2013—When I heard the story of Filipe (name has been changed to protect privacy), a young African boy, I was reminded of God’s heart for justice. Like countless other boys in Senegal, Filipe was sent to live in the city of Dakar to learn and memorize the Koran, Islam’s holy book.
Rather than studying, however, some of these children are placed in the care of corrupt religious leaders, who then force them to beg in the streets for food and money. Thousands live in slavery and constant fear of their teachers’ cruelty.
Filipe endured this oppression until he—like so many other boys—fled his school. Yet he traded one form of suffering for another—homelessness.
That’s when he heard about what other homeless boys called the ‘lady’s house.’ Started by a missionary woman, the Samaritan’s Purse-funded center is a place where street boys can come and find loving care, a shower and clean clothes and even fun games. Here, Filipe listened to Gospel stories and fell in love with Jesus, the God-man who died to save him.
This encounter began a long process of discipleship for Filipe with the center, through which he received biblical and vocational training. Today, he is respected by the street boys he now disciples and educates at the center. A church leader and soon-to-be ordained pastor, Filipe’s life is unrecognizable from the young, homeless boy who first stepped foot into the ‘lady’s house.’
Today’s world, full of pain and suffering, is lightened by stories like Filipe’s. Such accounts testify of our God’s work for justice. Though human sin and brokenness has resulted in those with power oppressing the weak, God gives us hope through Jesus, who proclaimed:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” (Luke 4:18, NIV)
And Jesus invites us to be part of this work! Through faith in Him, His spirit fills us and we become part of the Body of Christ, which is working in the world to overcome the sin that coerces and enslaves. This is the heart of Samaritan’s Purse and the heart of our God. This is why we fund the daily operations of the center for boys at risk in Senegal.
Today, I am reminded that God loves justice, and calls each of us in a passionate pursuit of this justice:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: To loose the chains of injustice and untie the chords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free And break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6, NIV)