It was in Manila, the Philippines in 1993 or 1994 that I was first gripped by the brokenness of the world around me. On that trip, I visited a city that had grown up around a huge dump. People lived in shanty towns with homes made only of plywood and tin roof. There was no furniture in these single-room homes.
In 2007, I again faced the utter brokenness of the world when I started working with at-risk youth and their families. I saw the devastation of poverty, drug-addiction, and the breakdown of family and community relationships through violence and crime.
And I had to ask myself, what hope do we have in the face of such brokenness? What answers do we have to the question of suffering and evil in our world? How can we possibly make a difference in the face of such oppression, injustice, and pain?
I don't know about answers, but I did find hope. My hope arises from the great story of rebellion, rescue, and restoration found in Scripture. It comes from the great God who cannot be contained in the boxes of our descriptions of him but who leaps out of the pages as a mysterious, uncontrollable, and yet somehow loving God.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.