Authority: Paul writes, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”  This command may be fairly easy to obey for those of us in places with functioning legal systems. But what about for people in places where the systems of law are corrupt—even extremely corrupt?
Violence: In The Locust Effect, IJM founder and former Federal prosecutor Gary Haugen argues that billions of the global poor, when they are victimized, don’t run to, but away from, the police. In the developing world, those in the law enforcement pipeline—police, prosecutors, judges—are often in the pockets of wealthy criminals, which means that the poor are often the defenseless targets of “common, everyday, predatory violence.”
Protection: According to the World Bank, four billion people in the world are living outside of the law’s protection. Last year, in Oregon, for example, a man broke into a woman’s home. She called 9-1-1, but the dispatcher told her that nothing could be done—it was Saturday and, due to budget cuts, the police were only available on weekdays from 8am to 4pm. On weekends, in other words, she was outside of the law’s protection. In the 9-1-1 recording, the dispatcher says, “It’s unfortunate you guys don’t have any law enforcement out there.”  The perpetrator broke in, choked her, and raped her.
Fight: This may be rare in Oregon, but it’s the horrific daily reality for millions of the global poor. They have laws, but no law enforcement. In this scenario, however, we see the nuance of Paul’s command. He continues, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.”  In other words, we discern whether an authority is fulfilling its God-given role by whether it’s rewarding good conduct or bad. For organizations like IJM, which works in places where good laws are on the books, therefore, the good news is that a false authority (the corrupt law enforcement) can fall to a true authority (the law). In this, there is great hope.
Prayer: Lord, Billions of our neighbors are living in places without basic law enforcement. Knowing that you love justice, we ask you to break our hearts for this epidemic. Open our eyes to see where there is brokenness and where we can participate in healing. Amen.
If you are interested in learning more about IJM and its work to end violence, we strongly recommend that you read The Locust Effect. There’s obviously very little a 400-word devotional can accomplish. Bethany’s review and a place where you can buy it for a 20% discount is: here.)
 Romans 13:1-2 ESV |  Cash-strappedlaw enforcement agencies in Oregon stop answering calls, sending officers: ‘If he … assaults you, can you ask him to go away?’ New York Daily News. 2012 |  Romans 13:3 ESV