Tag Archives: InterVarsity

becoming an enemy of injustice: IJM’s Sharon Cohn Wu at Urbana 06

29 Jun

This is the first in what will be a series of posts reflecting purposefully on books, sermons, and testimonies that have impacted the way I think, pray, and live out my faith. I understand that religion and spirituality are sensitive topics for many and I know that not all of my friends and family hold the same convictions that I do. With that in mind, all posts of this nature will be labeled, so that if you prefer to skip them it will be easy to do so.

Whatever your perspective, I would be honored if you chose to read and/or respond to this post. But I wanted to provide fair warning that it explores a specific set of beliefs about the character of God, His call to justice for all people, and His ability to transform the world through the sacrifice of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

In December 2006 I attended my first Urbana convention. For those not in the know, Urbana is InterVarsity Christian Fellowship‘s triennial missions summit. It is hosted by IVCF/USA and Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada. TheĀ  first IVCF missions convention was held in 1946 in Toronto*, with the theme “Complete Christ’s Commission.” From 1948 to 2003, it was held in Urbana-Champaign Illinois, taking on the name of its location. 2006 was the first year Urbana was held in St. Louis, MO. It is projected to continue to happen in St. Louis, where the use of the Edward Jones Dome means that more delegates will be able to attend. In 2006, I was one of about 22,000 students, university faculty, and career missionaries who attended Urbana and had a chance to hear hundreds of great speakers explore God’s calling for his global church.

One of those speakers was Sharon Cohn, then Senior Vice President of Interventions at the International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that seeks justice for enslaved and oppressed people. She is still serving with IJM, although she is now Sharon Cohn Wu and her title is Senior Vice President of Structural Transformation. You can watch the entire address that Ms. Cohn Wu delivered at Urbana 06 at this link, and the audio version is available here. It is thirteen minutes long and absolutely worth your time to watch (or rewatch) her powerful testimony about God’s work through IJM.

I intended to record a few of my favorite quotes from the video; I ended up transcribing most of it. Ms. Cohn Wu’s testimony remains a powerful challenge to God’s people. I believe she was anointed to speak to Urbana 06, and I can only hope that her words continue to have an impact.

“As I came to know God, I became interested in what interested Him. Or at least I wanted to [be]. For example, His relentless concern for the poor. His peculiar preoccupation with the last, the least, the lost and the littlest. His remembrance of the people that the world forgot. Among all of God’s characters revealed in scripture, God reserves his strongest commentary for the offense of injustice. Proverbs 14 says, ‘He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker’.”

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