A former teacher and pastor, Martin now works for International Justice Mission, an organization that fights slavery, sex trafficking and other forms of violent oppression. Martin's new book, "The Just Church," outlines the "why" and "how" Christian congregations should seek justice at home and abroad. He lives in Arlington with his family.
Do you consider yourself to be of a specific faith?
I'm a Christian, and by that I mean that I take the life and teachings of Jesus seriously, to not just be informed by Jesus' life and teaching but to be transformed by it. How I live my own life, the career choices I've made --I've been transformed and influenced by Jesus in all those things.
I love that Jesus doesn't just offer us rules or how-tos or how-not-tos, but that he offers real life, and abundant life. My life has been more abundant than I could ever have predicted it to be -- with real meaning, enough of a good reason to get up every single day.
Why do you think churches must pursue justice?
It goes for me back to the character and nature of God. For those of us who take the Bible seriously, the fact is there is not a genre of biblical literature that does not talk about the character of God and the issue of justice. So for the church not to pay any attention to justice in the world is a massive disconnect that should not be allowed to persist. Another reason is to say is that the church of Jesus is actually hard-wired for life-and-death struggle in the world. That's where the church of Jesus makes the most sense, and if we opt out of those struggles, we begin to suffocate. But if we opt in, we find life and meaning and joy. It's as we engage in this mission of justice that we ourselves are transformed.
How have your experiences in seeking justice shaped your faith in God?
Here's what I would say has been the big revelation of my own journey: The good news of Jesus is the very, very best news of all in the places where it's most needed. My family once ran into a student who was disowned by her family, and we invited her to come and live with us, and in doing that, we experienced the Gospel in the most powerful way we ever had. I can believe that God is good, but I can only grow in my trust that God is good by risking my life or my career on his goodness.
At your core, what is one of your defining beliefs?
One of my defining beliefs has been that God is actually trustworthy and that I can live my life in a way that involves this kind of risk, that brings the best of who I am to the places of the most need in the world. It's not God sending me out somewhere where he can't be found; it's God inviting me somewhere where he's already at work. And it's there that I get to see the church be what the church ought to be in the world, which is the just church.