My Jesus knows exactly what I need. I had a great week, but in the back of my mind every day I was missing a bit of my heart back in Chicago, where Moody Bible Institute was holding its Missions Conference. Last year it was a raucous (the good kind) time of praise, fellowship, and hope. Praise to a Good Father, fellowship with those who strive to love and serve Him as I do, and hope that He isn’t finished working.
But this year I found myself in a different state, missing friends and chapel and Chicago and the little life God had blessed me with there.
This past Friday night I walked to a conference called NorthStar. Put on by International Justice Mission, this conference is aimed at college students–equipping, empowering, and encouraging them to be leaders in the fight against slavery.
Within minutes of my arrival, an IJM employee and an IJM intern approached me and began really good talks. (Side note: Want someone from an organization to speak to you? Go alone. They feel so bad for you.) No longer was I the girl who got the emails of “another rescue mission completed!” and prayed for, and admired the work IJM did. Now, I was part of the conversation.
I’ll be honest, besides everything above this line, I basically just deleted an entire post that was typed and ready to go. It had notes from the conference, statistics on IJM’s work, and great one liners from the speakers such as, Do you want to be safe or do you want to be brave? and, Changing the world isn’t glamorous.
But that wasn’t my heart.
My heart is that somewhere in the world, a girl has been raped 15 times today. My heart is that kids have been pulled out of school to pay back their fathers’ debt, and ten years later they know nothing else. My heart is that people living outside of India don’t know that their country is the most injustice-riddled, the same as people living inside of India deny it.
And as dark as that part of my heart is, it’s also beginning to alight with hope, because…
IJM repeats rescue missions until they get it right. Even if it takes year after year, which it has, and even if the operations last day after day, which they have.
A brothel owner notorious for his cruelty (he raped each girl in his brothel before allowing customers to do the same) is now behind bars with one of the harshest sentences ever given in that region.
A woman who was recently widowed almost had her property (and her only income) grabbed by neighbors, but IJM stood alongside her to ensure justice was kept.
Kids–of all ages, and much younger than you would imagine–are being encouraged to testify in court against their abusers, enslavers, and rapists. There is a celebration held where the kids are given pins that say, “I am a hero.”
There are a lot of things I don’t believe. When a pastor says something, I don’t believe it just because he is a pastor. When a speaker says something, I don’t believe him/her just because they are captivating or good with words. But this week when IJM’s Director of College Mobilization told a small room of students that they are the leaders and world changers of this movement, I believed him.
I can’t research and analyze the data on progress being made in the Philippines. I don’t like giving speeches or being in front of an audience. Fundraising isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I’m also not the best at it. My high school tried for 3 years to teach me Spanish, and nothing stuck. Nobody would covet a blank check from me. So what do I have to offer?
I have my voice. I have my mind. I even have my body. This December I’ll be participating again in Dressember, wearing a dress every day to say I am a woman, I am proud of that, and I stand for women who are living in areas where being a woman is not a wonderful thing. This spring I’ll be standing for over 24 hours on campus with other college students who are deeply invested in raising awareness about slavery. I don’t have much money to give, but this weekend I became a Freedom Partner to allow IJM to continue the work they need to do. And this? This writing right here is called advocacy, and organizations across the globe would give just about anything to have a strong network of advocates. Each click on my blog, then on the links I provide, and each conversation that this new information presents is a small, but powerful ripple in this movement. As Gary Haugen, the President of IJM said,
“Nothing happens just because we are aware of modern day slavery, but nothing will ever happen until we are.”
Don’t doubt what you have to offer, because I guarantee it’s much more than you realize. Check out IJM’s work today, and leave a comment below about any other great organizations you support!