It’s easy to feel that way after 30 seconds of nightly news these days. And it’s easy to feel helpless. I will never forget the empty, hollow look in the faces of so many young people in Moldova, a country chewed up and spit out by the former USSR. Their situation is so grave, they literally are desperate for change and yet, too overwhelmed to know what to do.
The first time I heard there were 27 million slaves in the world today, I was shocked, mortified, and angry and felt completely helpless. For weeks and months I did nothing but sit in the bottom of a deep well of disbelief.
Half the Sky, written by New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristoff and wife Sheryl WuDunn, sheds light on a number of paralyzing issues that our world faces this very moment. Kristoff and WuDunn certainly discuss some difficult issues to read and even more difficult to understand such as terrorism, human trafficking and the state of maternal health in much of the world that are oppressing countless women and girls today.
Kristoff and WuDunn, the husband and wife duo have traveled the world as journalists. Just last week Kristoff was reporting from caves in Southern Sudan, now the home for many innocent civilian villagers seeking shelter from Northern Sudan bombing. They’ve seen it all.
In Half the Sky, they steer clear of overwhelming statistics. They do present the numbers as to not sugar coat real problems, yet there is focus is on something different, something much more personal.
You don’t just hear there are 2 to 3 millions girls in India’s red light districts, you meet Meena Hasina, a survivor and fighter who escaped the hell of a brothel and fought hard to find her children, also enslaved by the same people who had sold her.
The story of Long Pross, a Cambodian girl, who when 13, was kidnapped and sold into a brothel. When she rebelled, the brothel owner gouged out her eye with a metal rod.
All 254 pages of the book tell the personal stories of women, once oppressed and now liberated, who have not only turned their lives around, but have also transformed their communities.
My eyes were opened to the realities of pregnant women not receiving maternal care during pregnancy and after and the issues that are presented there, most of them preventable. I also learned more about the importance of education for young girls. Keeping girls in school helps to prevent teenage pregnancies and ultimately empowers young girls to stand up for themselves in their families and societies so that they are not taken advantage of.
Half the Sky doesn’t just present the paralyzing numbers, they tell stories in a way that sheds light on reality and offers hope and practical ways that changes can be made to protect young girls today to prevent oppression from taking place in their future.
Not only does the book share these stories and more, you’ll read about every day people like you and me who want to help. They share what works and what doesn’t. Political policies that work and don’t work are also discussed. And organizations such as International Justice Mission are mentioned by way of encouraging readers to get involved in whatever manner they feel they can.
Half the Sky is on exhibit now through the end of May at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. Last month I had the opportunity to visit the exhibit. The pictures in this blog are from that exhibit. If you are in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit. In fact, in late April I will be giving tours throughout the exhibit on behalf of International Justice Mission. I’d love to see you there.
As a Christian, I believe it is my responsibility to care for the oppressed. The more I learn about my Creator and the more I understand that the foundation of his throne is Justice and Righteousness, the more I desire to seek him in the pursuit of justice for all. As I recognize and acknowledge my God is justice, my eyes are opened to the world’s injustices and through ceaseless prayer, I see more and more how I can help make a difference.
God knows the stories of each and every child of his in the world. The Bible says he bends down on his knee, turns his ear towards his children and listens to their every word. The Bible also says that his eyes scan the entire earth searching for the righteous and faithful to him. God’s plan for justice in the world is found in his followers. We are God’s plan for seeking his justice, serving others to end injustice and daily worshiping him through our serving hands among the poor, orphaned, widowed, oppressed, etc. It’s a radical idea that God, creator of all, works through his children. It’s the Kingdom of Heaven colliding with a fallen world.
I encourage you to be part of the collision. Seek out the God of justice in the scriptures. Talk to God about all of it. Consider individuals, not statistical numbers and make an effort to participate in this radical idea of God restoring and healing the hurt of the world.