Gabe Lyons: I’m here with Andy Crouch. We recently had a great interview with Gary Haugen, who, Andy, is a really close, personal friend of yours.
Andy Crouch: It’s an honor to be able to say that because I’ve known Gary since the very beginning of International Justice Mission. I met him very shortly after he had come back from Rwanda where he directed the United Nation’s genocide investigation in 1994 and 1995. It has been amazing to watch God honor his vision for justice.
I know that you got to talk to him about some of the cutting edge initiatives they’re working on right now.
GL: Yes. For those who don’t know Gary’s background, he was with the Department of Justice member when he was one of the first on the ground in Rwanda after the genocide. When he came back to his suburban life, he realized “Man, God has a heart for justice but I haven’t heard a lot about that.” It’s convicting when you really start to think about how much injustice happens in the world and how little we know about it, especially in America.
AC: What Gary has helped us to see is that injustice is not just this abstract, vague idea of “Well it seems unjust that some people have more than others.” While that may be unjust, there’s another kind of injustice that we can actually get a hold of and address. It is that some take from others by force and that there are ways to respond if you’re trained as a legal professional, or as an investigative professional.
IJM is pretty unique, as far as I know, among human rights organizations in two main ways. The first is that it is a praying, faithful organization. They don’t just pay lip service to prayer, they pray deeply as a team. But then the other thing is this very laser-like focus on casework on the ground.
IJM actual goes into situations where people are being deprived of their liberty and the fruits of their work to bring release to captives. It’s quite an extraordinary story.
GL: I was with Gary recently and we did a couple of screenings together of a film called, “Trade”. When we did the screenings, I was impressed that we were talking with church leaders about human trafficking. This is an rated R film, it had rough content. And as Gary was introducing it, he said “Look, we need to see this. We need to be exposed to not only this film but to this issue because it is dark. It is rape for money. You can’t get away from that in this issue.”
The church leaders respond to that. Many times, we’re scared to see the reality of what’s going on because it is so dark. But Gary’s saying, “Look, if we’re not exposed to this or aware of it, how are we going to do anything about it and have compassion for these people?”
I sat down briefly with Gary and we had a little bit of a discussion about that and here’s what he had to say:
GL: Gary, as a member of the State Department and leading a lot of initiatives related to justice, you are right in the middle of an influential part of culture. Can you share what you think a Christian’s role should be in engaging and redeeming culture?
Gary Haugen: I think the first thing is to have the strength and the sense to stand amidst culture and not to run away from it. Certainly the example of Jesus was not to go away and find someplace where He could be safe from culture.
But what He did was to actually come here and make culture and shape it. But you can’t do that from a distance, you have to be in it and in that sense of course you would always say, “To be in the world but not of it.”
I think our role is actually to make culture and to shape the way we think, to shape what is perceived as true but, in the midst of that, to create culture not so much through the talking but through the living.
People hear a lot of our words but the words just end up being rather weak because they don’t see a commensurate level of action. I think it was Emerson who said, “Don’t talk; who you are thunders over you all the while so, I cannot hear what you are saying.”