In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln said these words near the end of the US Civil War as part of his second inaugural speech: “Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Bob Goff traveled to a country where he witnessed extreme human rights violations. In response, he chose to live out the call of Isaiah 58:3 by seeking justice on behalf of the oppressed. Goff founded Restore International to “fight for freedom and human rights, working to improve educational opportunities and to be helpful to those in need of a voice and a friend.” For more than a decade, Restore has helped to free those in bonded labor and sex trafficking, along with other exploited men, women, and children in select troubled countries.
In Mumbai, India, a boy named Lakhan lives with his elderly grandmother, Sakubai. Lakhan has cerebral palsy and is deaf. With no home or family to help care for him and Sakubai, they slept on the pavement behind a small bus stop. A published photo shows 9-year-old Lakhan tied to a pole—the only way his grandmother could ensure his safety when she went out to search for work. Sakubai explained her drastic action: “[Lakhan] is deaf, so he would not be able to hear the traffic coming. If he ran onto the road, he’d get killed.” Thankfully, a group that works with special-needs children heard the story, secured a room where both grandson and grandmother could live, and helped the grandmother obtain a job.
After I moved to Africa, a couple living in the US contacted me and said, “We’d like to make a financial contribution to help you with your ministry in Uganda.” Because my job at the time didn’t require that I raise funds, I thanked them but declined their generous offer.
When I was hiking in a park with my grandfather, our trail lassoed a lake at the bottom of a valley. As we walked, several smaller paths broke away from the main trail. Each time we came to a fork in the road, my grandfather let me choose which way to go. I always picked the steepest, rockiest, most difficult choice. My grandfather sighed a few times, but he took on the most challenging path for my sake.
In 2011, marine biologists around the globe were fixated on a pod of sperm whales in the North Atlantic Ocean; they had adopted a bottlenose dolphin calf. Jens Krause, a German behavioral ecologist, told one news source that sperm whales have “never been known to mingle this closely with another species.” Apparently the young dolphin had a spinal defect and couldn’t swim fast enough to keep up with other dolphins. But surprisingly, the sperm whales gathered the struggling dolphin into their fold.
Many odd and antiquated laws can be found around the world. In the UK, it’s an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing a British monarch upside-down, and in England specifically, it’s illegal to eat mince pies on the 25th of December. In one US state, women must get written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth. In Milan, it’s a legal requirement to smile at all times—except for funerals and hospital visits.
She burned down her house and lives off the land in Africa. Her name is Jja Ja Nakibuuka. Leprosy has claimed her fingers and toes. She owns nothing, so children sometimes offer her food and small presents. When she greets the children and their mothers, Jja Ja Nakibuuka always says the same thing: “God is good, and He is coming back.”
I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior when I was 15 years old. When my dad found out, he was heartbroken because of his differing religious beliefs. He couldn’t sleep well for the next several nights. He felt that he had failed as a father because he couldn’t keep his family together. His daughter had deserted the family tradition and chose to follow a “Western god.”
Nine-year-old Eileen approached a pack of older boys in a schoolyard. They were beating an autistic student who was lying on the ground curled up in the fetal position. She asked the bullies to stop hurting the other student. The boys did stop, but only to push Eileen to the ground, where they cursed at her and stepped on her before fleeing. The local autism center later honored Eileen and said, “She defended this boy because of her courage.”
Rabbi Harold Kushner lost a son to a degenerative disease—premature aging syndrome. He later wrote the bestseller When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Trying to maintain his belief in God, he said that God is either not good enough, since he allowed the sickness, or not powerful enough to prevent it. He chose the latter. According to Kushner, God created the world but isn’t in complete control of it. In other words, God hopes for our good and sympathizes with us in our pain, but He’s powerless to do anything about it.
Recently, I took a 17-hour road trip and my family and a foreign exchange student we were hosting were also along for the ride. To save time, we attempted to cut through a bordering country. We were turned away at the border, however, because our exchange student did not possess the right paperwork. Good security resulted in bad news for us. Disappointed, but undeterred, we took the long way to our destination.