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Just Courage: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian
Arthor: Gary Haugen
Publisher: InterVarsity Press Books
Length: 149 Pages
The day that Just Courage: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian by International Justice Mission's (IJM) founder and CEO Gary Haugen arrived in my mailbox, Haugen and his  group were featured on an hour-long Dateline NBC episode.  IJM is a human rights organization which works on behalf of victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other kinds of violent oppression.  The show was partially a repeat of one that had originally aired in 2003, which detailed one of the rescue operations that IJM had conducted in a Cambodian brothel, and partially a follow-up to that program, in which the original reporter returned to Cambodia and interviewed some of the girls who had been been rescued five years earlier.  While watching the program it became abundantly clear that  if anyone is qualified to write a book about courage, Haugen is.  Not only has he put himself at great risk many times, but he has close contact with oppressed people who show great courage in the face of incredible injustice.
Haugen begins his book by examining the ennui of what he calls “cul-de-sac Christians” who are living good, safe, moral lives, but also have a haunting sense that there is something still missing.  His antidote is simple:  “In different times and in different ways, our heavenly Father offers us a simple proposition: Follow me beyond what you can control, beyond where your own strength and competencies can take you, and beyond what is affirmed or risked by the crowd – and you will experience me and my power and my wisdom and my love.”  Specifically, Haugen suggests that Christians involve themselves with the crucial work against injustice which requires so much of the individuals who engage in it, but offers so much in return.  “Certainly the work of injustice brings marvelous rescue and joy to the victims of injustice, but God wants his people to know that the work of justice benefits the people who do it as well.  It is a means of rescue not only for the powerless but also for the powerful who otherwise waste away in a world of triviality and fear.”  
Much of Just Courage is the story of IJM, its fight against worldwide injustice, the importance of this fight for all Christians, and the crucial role of courage, both on the part of the rescuers and those who are rescued.  In fact, it almost seems as though Haugen gets sidetracked in the middle of the book and spends more time talking about the value of IJM's mission, rather than really exploring and teasing out what courage might mean in the lives of people who aren't called to lead rescue operations into Asian brothels or work directly for the release of slaves from Indian brick factories.  There are many ways to work for justice, just as there are many different ways for Christians to move out of the “cul-de-sac” that require great courage, and it seems as though Haugen largely ignores these facts.  
Regardless of this omission, I found this book very inspiring, encouraging, and affirming.  My husband and I are in the midst of our own big transition in an attempt to be faithful to Jesus' call, and while almost nothing about it has been easy, we have certainly come to understand the importance of not being bounded by our fears, but rather taking small steps forward in faith and courage.  Haugen's final chapter is entitled “Would you rather be safe or brave?”  I am thankful that there are men like Haugen and organizations like IJM to remind me that indeed, I would rather be one of the brave.
Jennifer Monroe



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