Justice Books to Read in 2015

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Do you have plans for how to stay alert to injustice in 2015? Or are you in danger of becoming apathetic?

A few years ago, a Fulani village in Mali was ignored in a proposal for a region-wide irrigation project. The village submitted the appropriate paperwork but when the official plans were introduced, the village was left off the map completely--it was as if they didn’t exist.

When Jim Miller heard his friend Mary Crickmore, World Renew’s West Africa team leader, talk about the injustice received by the Fulani people, he asked what he could do to help. Mary’s response included the words, “Pray and be alert.” Injustices like this happen daily, and they thrive when they go unnoticed. But injustice also thrives when those who do notice the brokenness are not alert or equipped to take action.

When Jim learned that the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation was helping to fund this irrigation project he contacted his U.S. Senator and urged him to take action. The Senator did take action and the village was later included in the project. What if Jim hadn’t been alert to the steps for response?  

If you want to keep learning as a Christian who does justice here are 10 books we recommend to raise your awareness about certain justice issues and to empower you to act.

  1. Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World. Mae Elise Cannon. This handbook has practical ideas for group engagement with almost every issue you can think of.
  2. The Locust Effect. Gary A. Haugen and Victor Buotros. The publishers write that The Locust Effect will take you on a gripping journey that will forever change the way you see poverty. It will leave you with hope that we can help make the poor safe enough to thrive. This is an excellent book for group discussion.
  3. Live Justly. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Eugene Cho, Renee Padilla-De Borst, Ron Sider, et.al. Published by World Renew and Micah Challenge US. This is a group study that deepens attentiveness to spiritual disciplines and strengthens efforts to do justice. Available at worldrenew.net/order.
  4. Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World. Alexia Salvatierra. Answers the question, “What do people of faith do in response to injustice?” This book gives practical insights on how people of faith can root their community change efforts in the fact that God is real and Jesus is alive.
  5. Red Brown Yellow Black White, Who’s More Precious in God’s Sight? A call for diversity in Christian missions and ministry. LeRoy Barber with Velma Maia Thomas. This book describes the deep value of pursuing missions teams that are diverse, roadblocks to that pursuit, and practical steps for immediate, positive change.
  6. When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor—and Yourself. Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Examines issues of global poverty and development with specific emphasis on short-term missions. An excellent resource with connections to the Reformed tradition. Helps readers understand poverty beyond economics. A group study guide is available.
  7. Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just. Timothy J. Keller. Reminds Christians that charity is not always just. Challenges readers to do justice in response to God’s love.
  8. The Little Book of Biblical Justice: A Fresh Approach to the Bible’s Teachings on Justice. Chris Marshall. An excellent, brief overview of justice throughout Scripture. Explores the Israelite’s calling as a community of justice and peace and Jesus’ mission to establish a kingdom of Shalom. A great resource for framing an understanding of justice throughout Scripture.
  9. Welcoming the Stranger. Matt Soerens and Jenny Yang. The authors’ experience in a Christian organization providing legal services to undocumented immigrants. They define how the Bible encourages Christians to welcome and defend the cause of immigrants, and how the U.S. immigration system isn’t working for immigrants from vulnerable countries.
  10. Earthwise: A Guide to Creation Care. Cal DeWitt. When creation is desecrated, it is often the poor who feel the negative impacts. Earthwise moves readers to cultivate more faithfully the gifts that God gives in creation.  

Have you read books that you would like to add to the list? Let us know! You can contact me at [email protected] or tweet at @krisvanengen. 

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Thanks Kris, this is a helpful list!