Erica has served our church as a valued City Group leader and labors in our city faithfully, working with and through local organizations, including the Hope Center for Kids and the Lydia House, to advocate and care for people in Omaha. She currently volunteers with Team Nebraska of the International Justice Mission (IJM) and is working with CitylightU to raise awareness of injustice around the world and to invite us into prayer for the marginalized and exploited and for those who fight for them. We have invited her to share how she became involved with IJM and offer us an opportunity to join with her and others across the globe celebrating Freedom Day 2018:
In college, I began to learn about slavery in the modern world. My reality was shattered as I heard stories of women and children being sold for sex work in our world. My heart broke that thousands of vulnerable families, living in poverty, sell their daughters in hopes that they will have a better life, not knowing the deep darkness they will experience. In the raw moments of hearing this truth, this ugliness that exists, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why would You let this happen, God? How could we humans possibly be this broken?” Not long after I learned of these issues, I began to struggle with what I could do. What could a girl from Nebraska do about human trafficking, land grabbing, child slavery, and the many other injustices that run rampant throughout our world?
Gary Haugen, the founder and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), once said, “Nothing happens because we are aware, but nothing can happen until we are aware.” Before we can go and solve the world’s problems, we must be aware of what’s happening. We must look at our world and see what God sees, allow our hearts to break and then we just might be able to make a change.
In case you haven’t been made aware, let me shed a bit of light on our current situation:
- There are more than 40 million slaves in our world today. This is more than ever before in human history, including the time of the transatlantic slave trade.
- Slavery is a multi-billion-dollar industry, generating more than $150B annually.
- Slave owners prey on the poor and weak and 1 out of 4 victims of forced labor is a child.
God has taken me on what I anticipate being a life-long journey of seeking justice for the oppressed. In 2016, I had the opportunity to spend a year interning in the IJM UK office. It was there that God deepened my understanding of the chains that bind so many and the hope and love and joy there is in following a God who can break those chains into thousands of little pieces.
IJM exists to prove that justice for the poor is possible; that in our lifetime we can see an end to slavery. That end will come from God. We only need His church to rise up! It’s for this reason, to mobilize the global church, that IJM started Freedom Sunday. This year, churches around the globe dedicate September 23rd to the topic of Biblical Justice to spread awareness that is integral to seeing change. As a Citylight member, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that Citylight wants to be part of this. On September 25th, CitylightU will be dedicating their lesson to God’s heart for justice. If you are a college student, come and learn of ways you can get involved. Begin to pray about how God might use you to bring about justice in our world. – Erica
If you are not a college student and would like to join with people around the world in praying and learn more about how you can get involved on a local or international basis, go to the IJM website at https://www.ijm.org.