Last week NFL football fans were incensed when replacement referees made a call as time ran out that changed the outcome of the game. Instant replay clearly showed a Green Bay Packer interception that was ruled, instead, as a game-winning touchdown for the Seattle Seahawks. After three weeks of miscalls on the field, the fans couldn’t take it any more. Some demonstrated in the streets protesting with placards. Others lit up Twitter, Facebook and You Tube. The story dominated newscasts and talk shows. Las Vegas gamblers and Fantasy Footballers complained about their losses. Within three days the NFL owners restored the professional officials and promised justice would once again prevail on the gridiron.
It was interesting to watch the widespread outpouring of opinion over this issue across our country in the media, coffee shops, pubs and break-rooms, when other issues of injustice go unnoticed. While the officials were missing their call on the field in Seattle, judges in Massachusetts considered awarding a rapist rights to visit the child that was fathered by his crime. International Justice Mission reminds us that “More children, women and men are held in slavery right now than over the course of the entire trans-Atlantic slave trade.”
International Justice Mission (ijm.org) was established in 1997 in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. The organization seeks to rescue victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent crime. Over 400 lawyers, social workers and other staff work in 15 field offices in Asia, Africa and Latin America to protect the oppressed and prosecute the oppressors. 95% of those working for IJM are nationals of the countries in which they serve.
Making the right call and seeking justice is at the center of God’s heart. David writes, “The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.” (Ps 33:5). Isaiah says, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isa. 1:17). Predicting the Messiah, he writes, ““Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.”
Maybe this NFL fiasco will serve to remind us that every generation is challenged to throw off its social blinders to see injustices and inequalities that need to be corrected. We all have opportunity to see that justice and fairness prevail. Each of us must make “the right call” for justice and fairness as parents and children, co-workers and employers, students, teachers and administrators, citizens and government officials. For the seemingly distant and complex issues that are beyond us, we can encourage and support organizations like IJM.