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From the Frontlines to the Bookshelves: Behind the Scenes with the Authors

by IJM Institute

In the beginning of their latest book, justice dream team Abraham George and Nikki Toyama-Szeto speak directly to their readers: 

 “It is our hope in writing these Bible studies that the body of Christ around the world will be awakened to God’s heart for the poor and the oppressed. It is our hope that the missio Dei (the mission of God) will bring freedom, and justice will become our mission as well. It is our hope that in poring over and grappling with the thoughts in these study sessions you will recognize without a doubt that God’s heart for the poor and the oppressed is not just a peripheral concept, but that it forms the very heart and core of the gospel. It is what God desires.” (Introduction, pg. 7) 

Here, they give us an even deeper look into their interpretations of justice in the gospel and the church−and into the creative process behind God of Justice!
 
How did the two of you decide to work together?
 
Abey: God of Justice goes all the way back to when I began working at IJM in 2010.”  
 
Nikki: “Yeah, the need for this book was present for a few years before I was even involved with IJM’s Institute for Biblical Justice−it feels like Abey and I jumped onto a moving train! We were excited to team up and to use our positions in global church mobilization to merge IJM’s heart for the global church and its love for the engagement of scripture in justice issues.
Our names are on the cover, but it’s important to remember that God of Justice represents the collective knowledge of many individuals throughout many countries. We are not the sole authors, and we are grateful to have drawn from multiple sources of inspiration throughout the writing process.”
 
Why write a structured study instead of a memoir or a novel?
 
Abey: Many churches in the field, just like many churches in the Western world, find it difficult to look at the whole gospel. After all, it is easy to put the ‘love your neighbor’ command on the back burner−to compartmentalize God’s word. What the world often faces is the global church’s lopsided interpretation of its mission in terms of discipleship, evangelization and justice. 

This study format resists compartmentalization, and draws instead on the overarching theme of shalom in as accessible a way as possible. It encourages an interactive, holistic understanding of justice through individual settings, opening up opportunities for many kinds of relationships to develop between ideas and people.”  

 
Did you encounter any surprises throughout the publishing process?

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Nikki: “I was surprised to rediscover the power behind our clients’ stories−it sounds funny to say that, because those same stories are very familiar to all of us at the office, and have been for a while. But when I saw them laid out in this book, they almost grew. I don’t know how to describe it other than to say that it was like finding out my long-time friend is a really big deal! God is doing something through each of their lives that is so much bigger than we realized.”
 
Does any part of the book stand out to you in particular? Do you have a favorite section? 
 
Abey: “I think that if I had to choose a particularly meaningful section of God of Justice, I would go to Chapters 2 and 4−“Shalom and Human Responsibility” and “Personal and Systemic Injustice.” Understanding the complexities and the realms of injustice leads to a cohesive understanding of justice, and helps to drive home the point that the only way to look at the gospel with integrity is to look at the whole thing.

Really, though, I’m very happy with how the entire book turned out. I think that it accomplishes almost exactly what we wanted it to−we are so grateful to see this final product!” 

Nikki: I do have a favorite part of the book! Like Abey, I really enjoyed the portion about engaging with systemic justice [Chapter 4]. I hope that the American church can come away from this with a vision of what transformation looks like in a systemic sense, and not just an individual one.

I also have a favorite part of the writing process. Part of the way in, we sent our unfinished drafts to IJM’s field offices in six different countries and asked them to use it−to report back to us what they thought, and what happened during their studying. It was so exciting to get their feedback, because that’s exactly what the book is about: real people engaging in God’s heart for justice.”

There you have it, from the authors, themselves−God of Justice was designed just for you! It’s time to start reading:

  1. Test out God of JusticeDownload the first chapter in God of Justice. Share it with at least one person today! Use #mobilizeforjustice when sharing on social media.
  2. Not satisfied with just one chapter? Order the book--or a box! InterVarsity Press is offering great deals on both right now by visiting IVPress or Amazon.
  3. Go the extra mile and print out a God of Justice poster for your group study.

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