Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Locust Effect


 I've been tweeting my heart out, but I wanted to write a few more thoughts about Gary Haugen's new book The Locust Effect.

I first heard about the work of International Justice Mission the summer of 2005.  Like many, I was overwhelmed with the stories of rescue, and my initial responses were fueled by the urgency of that work.

Five months later, Troy and I found ourselves on a trip to Rwanda with IJM president, Gary Haugen.  We were part of separate groups with some intersecting purposes.  Troy and I were traveling with a coffee-roaster friend who partners with Rwandan farmers, and Gary was paving the way to open an IJM office in Kigali.  We were honored to be quiet witnesses to his first trip back to the region since he had been there as an investigator with the UN working to exhume mass graves, and document the genocide there.  There were many surreal moments during that trip.  I remember standing in front of a church that is preserved as a genocide memorial when Gary pulled a photo from his coat pocket of the same church, ten years earlier.  The memorial was hard enough to comprehend with it's organized shelves of skulls, but the photo of the same spot was incomprehensible - it was a small, jarring testimony to the depth of chaos and violence that was a reality there.

I have to add here that when the Rwandan genocide was happening, I was teaching US History.  To my sorrow, the only thing I could remember bringing up in reference to the genocide, as it was unfolding over 100 days, was one question on a current events quiz about Clinton's reticence to use the word genocide to define events in Rwanda.  Now we were in Rwanda, ten-years removed, hearing searing testimonies from survivors, and moving through the country with a guide that had been a unique witness to its history.

It was in this context, on the steps of that church, that I first heard the concepts behind The Locust Effect.  As Gary spoke to the group about his experiences, there were questions imbedded in his story - Who is addressing the issue of violence against the poor?  How can we strengthen rule of law so that the most vulnerable in the world are safe, or safer?  How many resources and how much time will we put into aid before we address the locusts of violence that systematically descend and devour everything in their path?  It was in this context that my heart was open to history's bigger questions and responses, and I could see that this vision is the deeper, more pivotal work of IJM.

And we were seeing it first hand.  Our role on the trip was to learn about our friend's efforts to partner with co-ops of farmers by building more accessible washing stations for their coffee beans.  But in the end, the story wasn't about accessibility to washing stations, or co-op development - the main issue was power and intimidation.   The industry of coffee has a long history, and in that history, the farmer has had very little power.  The farmer can't be empowered without taking power from someone else, without messing with the way things have been for a very, very, very long time. 

In the end, we realized that there are systematic injustices at play, here, and everywhere, and nowhere with more repercussions than in poor communities.  On those steps, Gary spoke with conviction that there are ways to address this type of systematic violence against the poor.  This is a much larger conversation, and a very important one.  Undercover investigations and rescues are still of extreme importance, but they are one part of a larger vision to shore-up leadership and systems of governance that will protect orphans, widows, and the most vulnerable among us.

The Locust Effect is the most articulate presentation of this vision that I have read yet from Gary Haugen, and I am grateful for it. 

It is important to note that if you buy the book before Feb 15th, your purchase will be matched, and in addition, all author royalties go directly to the work of IJM. 

Read more here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sara Groves Announces "The Collection"

Sara Groves
"The Collection"

I made a map of my life on my 40th birthday, and remembered in broad strokes the first 20 years of my life, and then the second.  Drawn out in a sort of graph, I was amazed that there was rarely just one monolithic line, plummeting and rising, but that in the darker hours, there was almost always a counter-rise - this hard thing was happening, but at the same time, this other (sometimes completely unrelated) wonderful thing was happening.  Coming-of-age vulnerability alongside finding genuine, life-giving mentors (and authors), young adult angst alongside finding a voice, marriage joy alongside marriage pain, birth alongside depression, sin and self alongside truly breathtaking revelations of grace, tearing relational missteps alongside burgeoning life-long friendships.  You know what I'm talking about because when I go out and sing, you come and tell me about your plummeting and rising, and these songs that mark each turn in the line.  Here we have done our best to compile a group of songs to follow that line and 15 years of making music!  Thank you for listening - we are profoundly grateful for you!



Release Date: September 17
Pre-order the album now and get an instant download of the entire album!
Pre-buy link: saragroves.com

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why I Don't Blog Very Often

Because this happens and sometimes this happens... and this... and this... and sometimes this happens... So...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Opening Night

I usually run into events like a girl running with her head down - there is so much to consider in each moment without having to look up and consider what is ahead, too. For the past several months and years, I have been walking out a scenario that began to take shape a while ago. We felt a call, 'Art House,'and followed leads for a long time, and then found 793 Armstrong, and then sold our place, and then moved, and then started to repair it, and then... *Konk* All of a sudden it was opening night. All of a sudden I was picking up Charlie and Andi and Allison from the airport for our first Art House North event. At the last minute I was plagued with fears that you might not come, or that you would come and not like it, or not care. But you did come, and it seemed like you liked it, and had some similar dreams of your own, and that you actually care a great deal. I wish all of you could have been with us over the last couple of years so you could know what it felt like to walk in and watch this night unfold. My favorite part of the night was realizing that many of you have been carrying a similar dream, and that we might be on the verge of something fun.

We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

Our original plan for the Art House North was to have someone come in and, viola, do the renovations! But we got some sobering news at the beginning of the year about the sale of our house, and some other unexpected things, that reduced our renovation budget. At the same time, acquaintances, close friends, and friends of friends were offering to pitch in. Troy just jumped in and started fixing things himself... but miraculously, he was never working alone! Everyday people would materialize, seemingly out of nowhere, to help. The lock would break, and a locksmith would call or e-mail, "Let me know if I can ever help you with locks!" For over a month, Troy has been over at the church working all day, everyday. Thank you to all of our friends who came out to work with us to get this place up and running in time for our first event. We could never have done it without you!

The Little House in St Paul

We've decided to not live in the church. We want to share the space with others and feel like there is not enough room to host events the way we want to if we are taking up so much of the building. It makes sense, and feels right. The first day we saw the church, I walked down the street a bit to the house because it had a for sale sign in the yard. I started when I saw it because it looked exactly like a run-down version of a house I had seen just a few months earlier in Ocean Grove, NJ. That house was tiny, almost like a dollhouse, and I thought to myself, "I want to live a simpler life." The house sat dwarfed between two giant beach houses, but it was loved and cared for, and everything about it said enough. As we drove by it, I said out loud, "That's my dream house." It wasn't something I had remembered until I was standing in front of it's little twin in St Paul. I looked at the house, and then the church and said to Troy, "We are going to live here, and work there." So, now our plans have come full circle, and I am not surprised, and it is enough.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Long over due post: The Move

It has obviously been a long time since my last post. Just looking at the picture, it is strange to think about how different my life was when I wrote it! I can remember sitting at my desk in my 'piano room' trying to get that font error at the bottom of the post corrected - oh well. In the fall I took up homeschooling since we weren't sure when we would be moving and had a full touring schedule. We hit the road for The Reason To Gather Tour with Audrey Assad and Jenny and Tyler, and kept dropping the price of our house. At the end of that tour, we sold with the condition that we would be out by Christmas. With a Christmas tour already taking us out of town, we had nine days to be out. We filled three storage PODS with stuff, and moved just the bare necessities into our new little home in St Paul. It was important to Toby that we all say good-bye to the house in Burnsville, so we all went over for that last load. This is the only house my kids have ever known, and each of them were grieving. Toby was sobbing, sobbing, and Ruby kept looking at me. I told her that Toby was just grieving, and it was okay. "I will probably cry too," she said. A few minutes later I heard her trying to make herself cry, but it was fake, and she knew it. She looked up at me and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, oh well, I tried. With the help of many amazing friends, we cleared out the last of our belongings at 10pm, boarded the bus and headed to Chicago.