Songs for the Oppressed


A decade ago a friend challenged me to read Isaiah 58 thirty days in a row. She said that after thirty days I’d know why I was put on this planet. She was right.

I confess that before her 30-day challenge I didn’t even know what Isaiah 58 said. I didn’t realize it was one of the most profound Biblical calls for God’s people to fight for justice. What’s most amazing about Isaiah 58 is that it places the fight for justice squarely in the middle of what it means to worship God. Do we want to be God-worshipers? Then we need to fight for justice.

I love that during the last decade or so it’s become “cool to care.” I am so inspired by the growing array of NGOs, faith-based initiatives and social-media campaigns designed to speak up for the voiceless, protect the marginalized, empower the poor, and just generally right the wrongs of this wayward world. But if our pursuit of God’s Kingdom of justice isn’t grounded in something more profound than “cool,” we won’t sustain the energy and passion necessary to live out the beautiful Kingdom call.

Yesterday I would have said that the best way to keep the call alive is to turn repeatedly to Isaiah 58 and similar biblical passages. Today, I want to add another suggestion: download or order “Songs for the Oppressed” and listen to it everyday for the remainder of the summer.

Dreamed up by Scott Olson, CEO of International Teams, the album was produced by singer/songwriter/worship leader, Aaron Niequist (yes, my son-in-law extraordinaire). Original music is performed by indie artists and/or worship leaders including The Brilliance, Adam Kenyon, Paul Stevens, Tim Sayers, Ethan Nickerson, Aaron Niequist and additional Willow Creek artists, Shawn Christopher, Brandon Grissom and Becky Johnson.

Here’s a smattering of lyrics:
• Father of the beaten down/Lover of the strong and proud/God of every class, from the greenest grass to the underpass/Loving Weeper of us all…Oh—You love your children, All your children/ Every daughter, every son…
• Help us to worship more than singing, giving redemption hands and feet…
• Turning our face away from this hurting race/We turned our face away from you…Here we are/Words can only go so far/Draw us closer to your heart/Bring us back to you
• We are the hands and feet of Jesus/We wanna be the change we’re looking for…
• Help us help you make a place where the greatest are the least…Help us help you make a home where the fearful can be safe…We can see it. We can see that that place./Help us bring it to occupy this space.
• All who have been broken/All who have been poor/All who been strangers…I will be your shelter/I will be your guide…
• And the broken all have gathered and the tears have passed away…

Each artist donated their time and talent, so all proceeds from the album will support the work of International Teams, a Christian organization dedicated to global work among the physically, financially and spiritually oppressed. Beyond this, I guarantee that a daily dose of this music will move us all beyond the coolness of caring to the passion of God for all his suffering children. It will make us all long—and work—for that day when “the broken all have gathered and the tears have passed away.”

Help change the world—and your own soul—by downloading or ordering “Songs for the Oppressed.” You won’t be sorry.