Tell the Truth, If Necessary With A Trembling Voice
Last December, I was surprised to get the Spaanprijs Awards 2021. The Spaanprijs is an award bestowed to someone who has transmitted the Christian message to a larger audience in a unique manner. This award sparked my interest due to its provenance. It is named after Jan Spaan (1900-1969), a journalist who was engaged in the resistance during World War II. This adds to the prize's significance for me since it is rooted in resistance against tyranny and injustice.
When I learned that I had won this prize, my immediate thought was to issue a press statement and dedicate my award to particular groups of individuals who face injustice in our society. What began as a simple thought evolved into a complicated question: "where do I begin?" Regrettably, even decades after the end of World War II and the death of Jan Spaan, there are still injustices in our world today that needs to be addressed and resisted.
For me, the question remains: where should I begin my dedication? Should I begin with the millions of refugees and stateless people who are now stranded in camps, with all their broken aspirations and shattered lives, hoping that one day their lives would improve? "How about women?" I reasoned. It would be more appropriate to dedicate my award to the millions of women throughout the globe whose rights are being violated and who are being considered as less merely because they are women. Then I remembered the millions of women and children who are victims of domestic violence, particularly during pandemics; battered to death and some eventually murdered!
humanity is indivisible, and that humanity wounded here is a humanity wounded elsewhere!
My dilemma of "where to begin?" continued to weigh heavily on my spirit. I was then reminded of the millions of individuals throughout the globe who face discrimination and violence due to their gender orientation. Then I considered my fellow Christians, my brothers and sisters who face persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ. Those who have been imprisoned and tormented for the cause of Jesus. Then I remembered other religious minorities, such as our Muslim friends who are persecuted because of their religion or our Jewish friends who anno 2022 still face anti-Semitism, or our Bahai friends in certain places who lack access to even the most basic human rights. What about persecuted humanists, and atheists in theocratical societies? My thoughts wandered, and I instantly recalled my friends in Groningen and all the houses I'd previously visited that were damaged because of frequent earthquakes due to years of gas drilling in the region. Or how about my Nigerian brothers and sisters? Those who are victims of international oil companies ruining the environment and destroying communities, resulting in widespread migration and displacement.
Consequently, there were several additional thoughts that occurred to me that I am unable to share with the readers here owing to restricted space. However, I was reminded of Mr. Jan Spaan and his wife, Mrs. Lenie (Magdalena) Schenk (1907-1992), the founders of the Spaanprijs, who chose to be a light through one of the darkest periods in human history. This inspired me to think that regardless of where I live or what period of history I am in, with all my limitations and shortcomings, I can choose to commit not just my award, but my life to the betterment of mankind, inspired by my faith in Christ Jesus. I reminded myself that humanity is indivisible, and that humanity wounded here is a humanity wounded elsewhere! That all the persons who passed through my mind and the question of "where to begin?" are all part of a wounded humanity, one segment of humanity damaged by another segment of humanity, a corrupted humanity. And only love, in conjunction with advocacy, can mend the scars and alleviate the anguish. I was reminded of a quote: "tell the truth even if your voice shakes." Regardless of how tiny our efforts seem to ourselves or to others, let us not get weary in doing good, because when the time is right, we shall reap a harvest if we do not give up, as Paul states in Galatians 6:9. Let us not surrender until the harvest of love and justice is reaped. Let us never give up till Christ's return! I wonder whether Mr. Jan Spaan ever imagined that the award he helped create would be given to a brother with migration background from a far land. And as for myself, I dedicate this award to the shattered and wounded mankind, as well as all the people I've mentioned in this column.