Last night I had the honor of being able to volunteer at the International Justice Mission‘s Nashville fundraising dinner. I’ve been a fan of them for quite some time, but had never personally interacted with them. I was excited to go experience their organization in person. As it was a fundraiser, it was $200 per person. Not something I would normally be able to attend. But I found the right contact to sign up as a volunteer. In exchange for helping set-up & clean-up, we were able to then attend the dinner also. It was a powerful event. They do incredible, and intense, work. I learned a lot.
International Justice Mission (based out of DC) is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to promote functioning public justice systems. Please visit their site to learn more about them.
Did you know that…
There are 25 million people trapped in slavery around the world?
There are more women, men, & children held in slavery right now than over the course of the entire trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Over 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade.
Sickening & disturbing. (I recently read something from Max Lucado where he said that we ought to get ticked off about these horrible things going on in our world. If we are not ticked off about them, then something is wrong with us. Getting boiling hot mad is the first step. Only then will we be moved to action.)
IJM goes in, gathers evidence, and literally will then storm in and pull people out of their bondage. It is scary and daunting work. They are in constant danger. But I am so glad there is someone like them in the world to help.
Back to the evening’s events… They shared about the work of IJM, including several personal stories of people who have been freed (a girl from Cambodia freed from sex trafficking, a family from India freed from a salt mill, & a widow in Uganda (I think that’s right) who was being forced off her land unjustly). They then had a live web cam conversation with the girl from Cambodia. That was amazing! She, & her sister, were rescued a couple years ago. She is now doing well and is working in a bakery, hoping someday to start her own bakery and use the profits to help others.
Amy Grant then performed a few beautiful songs. (Her Better Than a Hallelujah took on a new meaning that night for me.)
And finally, Gary Haugen, IJM’s founder & CEO, spoke. He has an amazing background, coming from the Department of Justice, where he served as the Officer in Charge of the U.N.’s genocide investigation in Rwanda. Read more about him here.
It was a very moving evening. And very educational. I am so glad to have been able to attend.
I wanted to share that with you in hopes of educating others that these problems exist in our world today. These are issues that make us uncomfortable and that are so big & daunting we may feel compelled to look the other way, rationalizing “well I can’t do anything to help that.”
This quote appeared on the screen at one point last night and it grabbed my attention:
“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Are we ready to take responsibility? Are we ready to act and help out those that truly are “the least of these”? There are ways to help. You can help financially support the work of IJM. Or go here to learn about other ways that you can get involved.
And finally, here is an article that also talks about the U.S. sex trade and what we can do about it: The U.S. sex trade flourishes: your role in the fight
There are millions of people around the world right now that are being exploited as slaves. Now that you know, are you ready to take responsibility?