Week four of our Love. Walk. Do. sermon series focused on stories of justice for human trafficking victims. Mark Moore, Church Mobilization Director at International Justice Mission (IJM), shared stories of what IJM has done to actively bring justice and healing to human trafficking victims.
International Justice Mission (IJM) is the largest anti-slavery mission in the world. IJM is made up of lawyers, investigators, and counselors who works with local law enforcement to stop trafficking and stays with victims of human trafficking, providing support until they are free.
So often justice is seen as just one part of the Christian life. Rather justice is central to what it means to follow Christ. Walking with Christ means we have the kind of life that He has. This requires asking questions like, “do Jesus and I share the same passions, loves, and interests?” The things that break Jesus’ heart should also break ours.
The Unfamiliar Passion of God- God is passionate about this world as evidenced in John 3:16. However, so often Christians shrink the world down to just what they see and know. It is easy to forget that the world is made up of 6,500 spoken languages, with as many cultures. It is a beautifully big and diverse place and God is passionate about all of it. Yet, there is terrible suffering in the world. 25,000 children die everyday from starvation, one billion people have no access to healthcare, millions of children live on the streets. This raises a difficult question, how are we to believe God cares about the world with all of this suffering?
The answer is us! The Church is the body of Christ and God’s answer to the suffering of the world. In Matt 5:14, 16 Jesus, speaking to his disciples says, “you are the light of the world.” 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are Christ’s ambassadors. We are invited into God’s work in the world. Christians throughout history have gone into the darkest places and pushed back the dark.
However, there is an evil that goes beyond suffering, and that is injustice. Injustice is when someone abuses their power to rob others of the good things God wants them to have; their life, liberty, dignity, and the fruits of their labor. Ecclesiastes 4:1 tells us about the acts of oppression done by the unjust. Injustice looks like David’s behavior towards Bethesda and Uriah. It is robbing from others what God wants them to have. Psalms 10:8-9 speaks of these kinds of injustices. Sometimes these things seem so distance and it is easy for Christians in America to spiritualize them. Yet, for many people injustice is real and physical. For example 4.5 billion people live outside the protection of the law.
One of the most tangible forms of injustice is slavery. There are 36 million slaves, which is more than any other time in history. That is larger than all the people enslaved during the 400 years of the transatlantic slave trade.
Stories of Justice:
Shama: Shama was a 7-year-old girl, living on less than $1 a day. When her mother experienced complications from a pregnancy, it cost the family more than a months wages to receive healthcare. Shama’s father sold Shama to a moneylender to cover the cost. Shama was forced to roll cigarettes from sun up to sun down for 16 hours a day. She was beaten if she didn’t make the quota. Her slavery would last her whole life, including any children she had in slavery unless she could pay back the money plus interest in a lump sum. A worker at IJM looked into Shama’s case and uncovered 494 children in slavery. IJM brought the case to court on a Friday and were told to return the next Monday. That weekend the IJM workers went to a local church to pray and were surprised to find that the guest speak at church that Sunday was the judge hearing Shama’s case. He was moved and ruled to release all 494 children.
Jyoti: Jyoti was a 14-year-old girl who ran away form home and met two women at a train station, who drugged her and sold her into a brothel where she was locked in a dark room, beaten, and drugged until she complied. From that day on she was forced into prostitution, being raped by 20-30 men everyday. While in the brothel another young woman told Jyoti about Jesus. Jyoti prayed everyday, “Jesus, save me.” After one week an IJM worker uncovered Jyoti’s case and she was saved from prostitution. She became a Christian and worked with IJM save another young woman named Kalindi, which resulted in a raid of the brothel that saved many other women.
It is estimated that 800,000-1 million children every year are trafficked. How in light of this are we to believe that God is good and that He cares about this? Psalms 10:17-18 holds the answer: God hears the desires of the afflicted. God sees the injustice of the world and hates it. He is the God that is revealed in the crucified Jesus. The Church is God’s plan for the world. Micah 6:8 tells us that God “requires” of us to act with justice. The Hebrew word is literally translated “required.” That means it is not an option for the Church.
Knowing we are required to work for justice can feel overwhelming in a world with so much need. One story we can remember is Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. The disciples gave Jesus only what they had, and even though it looked small, Jesus took it and used it to preform a miracle. Jesus asks the same of us, that He asked of His disciples then, “will you allow your focus on your inadequate resources keep you from obedience?” Mark Moore encourages us to stop being overwhelmed by need and instead to start being overwhelmed with Jesus. We are responsible for bringing what we have and He is responsible for the miracle.
At IJM, Mark Moore sees Jesus’ hand everyday and asks Woodland Hills to partner with IJM in prayer to see justice done in this world. You can find out more at https://www.ijm.org/ and sign up to receive prayer updates every Saturday morning.
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