Skip to main content

Post by Audrey Odonkor

“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
Amos 5:24(NIV)

Justice Intern

Interning with International Justice Mission’s Ghana office this summer taught me a lot about justice. The office fights against child trafficking on the Volta Lake by investigating possible cases of trafficking, rescuing victims and prosecuting perpetrators. It also strengthens the justice system by training stakeholders like judges, prosecutors, police officers and social welfare officers on best practices for dealing with trafficking cases.

As an intern, my work involved legal research and writing, observing criminal trials, and watching attorneys prepare child witnesses for trial. However, in carrying out these tasks, I learned about what doing justice was and what it was not. I discovered that God desired justice that worked hand in hand with righteousness. For Christians, righteousness is living in conformity with God’s will. For non-Christians, righteousness is acting in an upright, moral, and virtuous way.

– – –

This relationship between righteousness and justice manifested itself in different ways. When one was not doing right things, they could be afraid of trying to seek justice. For instance, partners who were not operating by clearly laid-out rules were hesitant to join the fight for justice because they were afraid that the crooked systems they ran would be exposed.

The requirement for righteousness with justice also annoyed people who wanted a restricted kind of justice. For instance, some partner organizations set up for the very purpose of providing justice, felt threatened by our organization’s persistence in seeking justice because they did not endorse the type of clients we had. Our clients were mostly trafficked children of people on the fringes of society, people they cared very little for.

The need for righteousness with justice did not sit well with people who prized convenience above justice. Such people were willing to partner with the organization as long as it was convenient for them.

When situations required more of them than they were willing to give, they retaliated. They put roadblocks in our organization’s way, lashed out at its members, and blacklisted them to stall their progress.

– – –

Justice and Righteousness

Attorneys constantly made long and difficult journeys to court to ensure a case was moving along. They strategically built relationship with people who were openly antagonistic to them, to be able to see a case through. When the justice system was stalling the case, attorneys did all that was necessary to push the case through the court system.

The organization’s social workers also embodied this posture. They adjusted to uncomfortable accommodations situations when they travelled, to ensure that they could support child witnesses well. They served as mediators and referees, sometimes bearing the brunt of a prosecutor’s anger to shield a traumatized child from further questioning.

– – –

These actions resembled justice produced by righteousness. They embodied love and kindness that stemmed from understanding our righteousness as freely given. This allowed them to seek justice and extend kindness to others in a more sacrificial, virtuous, and God-ordained way.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.