Meet Mariamma. She is a brickmaker from southern India. One day she and her family decided to take a small loan from a brickmaker in another town so that they could relocate their family at his brick factory in hopes of earning more money. That man and his sons made them indentured servants, only permitting them to buy food from him and paying them what he pleased, therefore ensuring that they could never make a profit. Not only was the loan that they had borrowed not getting smaller, it was getting bigger.
The women were regularly gang raped, even those as young as 12 years old. Everyone was regularly beaten. Sometimes they went 7 days without food. No one was permitted to leave, even temporarily. When they finally got the nerve to escape, their captor kidnapped several of their friends to be held has hostages.
For Western ears this all sounds horrific, but we can imagine a world where this happens. But we can’t imagine this: The trafficker sent a crew to the city to announce publicly that that he was holding hostages that he would murder unless his slaves return. He didn’t fear the law at all.
After the escaped slaves got help from the staff from International Justice Mission, the police arrived at the factory with a camera rolling to record the crimes. In spite of having multiple witnesses, video evidence, and a team of IJM lawyers standing by to assist, the police did not file charges for two years.
Then the judge allowed these violent criminals out on bail. The police lost the confiscated weapons.They lost the photo and video evidence. After a number of logistical and administrative blunders, the trial did not take place for three more years. After two changes in the judge, a new judge that had not heard the mound of evidence acquitted the traffickers 6.5 years after the police rescued the victims. This was the case even with the financial resources and help of the IJM staff. Without such assistance, these victims would have never been found and there would have been no trial at all.
The crazy thing is that none of this was even news because it happens every day. This is just the way of life for so many poor people around the world. No matter the injustices perpetrated against them, justice is impossible.
(This story is told with 8 pages of bone-chilling detail in The Locust Effect [20-8].)
When I think of the theological categories that help make sense of this kind of injustice, I can only turn to the eschatological justice of God’s coming Kingdom. These persons will never know justice in this life. But as Christians we proclaim that justice will come as Jesus returns to set the world to rights.
But how does a person comprehend eschatological justice when they never see justice in the stories around them? The most important aspect of our justice ministries is the way in which eschatological justice is put on display in each instance of temporal justice. Put another way, when a victim sees justice in this world they get a vision for what God is like. What happens when the world around you never displays such justice?
Despair is antithetical to the Christian virtue of hope. Our call is to push back despair and proclaim hope. This is the heart of the call with which the book confronts us. Haugen and Boutros call us to find ways to make it possible to give Mariamma a vision of justice and God’s coming Kingdom.
Related Post: Living Outside The Law: #LocustEffect Part 1