Who will help rescue so many that exist in modern day slavery? Thankfully, there are people in this world who have come forth and are on a God -given mission to rescue those who are bound in these chains. These missionaries and rescuers of the poor and the oppressed are going out into the deep dark places in the four corners of the earth to bring about justice. This is a small glimpse inside the International Justice Mission (IJM).
IJM’s distinguishing work comes in a clear strategy to bring about transformative and tangible change. In nearly 20 countries throughout the developing world, IJM pursues justice in individual cases and advocates for systemic change through a model called justice system transformation. Since it was founded in 1997, IJM has relieved over 18,000 children, women and men, and convicted over 700 violent criminals. IJM protects the poor from violence by partnering with local authorities to…
– Rescue victims by going into brothels, slave facilities, and other dark places to bring people to freedom.
– Restore survivors by helping them rebuild their lives.
– Restrain criminals by relentlessly pursuing justice in the courts, and
– Repair justice systems by providing training and support, and advocating for reforms that will keep the poor safe.
They are looking at long-term, sustainable and impactful change across the world. And their hearts are to partner with people just like us to help make that vision a reality.
Stand for Freedom
One of the key events that IJM sponsors to start that impactful change is “Stand for Freedom,” an annual awareness raising week of action that challenges college students, churches and other advocates to organize awareness raising right where they live on the issue of modern slavery. This year’s event will take place from April 6-10th.
“They actually physically stand for 24 hours as a symbolic gesture; it’s amazing,” said Eileen Campbell, senior advocacy director at IJM. “They also raise money and collect thousands of signatures for various pieces of legislation. There are thousands globally that are involved in this great endeavor. People at times feel overwhelmed and paralyzed to help in the fight against labor slavery and human sex trafficking. IJM has so many real and tangible ways for them to get involved.”
End Modern Slavery Initiative
Another way people can get involved in this global mission is to help IJM bring awareness and change to the laws that are currently in place.
“People can also get involved right away by signing our petition in support of the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015. This petition goes to our respective elected officials to let them know we stand together in this fight against modern day slavery,” said Campbell.
And everyday people living their everyday lives can go even further than that.
Kristin Mentzer, an attorney in Orlando did just that. “I was on facebook one day and saw IJM’s facebook page. I read about the organization and immediately reached out to Eileen to see how I could get involved. And now I am involved in local level advocacy, tracking legislation and getting people in Florida involved and having their voices heard,” says Mentzer.
Kristin, who is now the advocacy leader in Florida for IJM, says that people in Florida can get involved right away at the local level. “IJM selects certain federal bills that they are going to support. Our job locally is to let our voices be heard by our respective senators and representatives. One of our greatest ways to do this is to travel to Washington DC to meet with them. We also participate in in-district meetings in the representatives’ local offices and have national call-in days,” said Mentzer
What’s even more tangible is the way IJM prepares before going to Washington DC for their Advocacy day.
“We do something called a 100 postcard challenge where people take these postcards that are petitions and then mail them back to the main office in Washington DC. Then on Advocacy day, we meet with our respective senators and representatives and personally hand deliver the signatures. For so many people that want to help like I did, the 100 postcard challenge can open the door to getting involved with our Advocacy Day,” said Mentzer
This year Advocacy Day will take place in September.
And it doesn’t stop there. Each year, IJM leads a global prayer gathering in Washington DC to come together and pray for the specific needs of teams around the world. And if you can’t make it to Washington DC, you can sign up on their website to receive weekly prayer update emails and notification of other urgent needs.
Churches are also a huge piece to global advocacy. Eddie Kaufholz, director of church mobilization for IJM, speaks passionately about how the church can raise up mighty warriors in the fight to end human slavery.
“My job fundamentally is to open up the Bible and talk about this issue with people. I start out by saying, ‘Do you know that there is currently an estimated 36 million people globally in slavery?’ People are shocked; there is a gasp that goes through a room when people hear that because people are unaware. Then we start the honest and heartbreaking conversation. Does God care about this? Does this matter?” he asked.
Kaufholz speaks regularly to congregations about getting the church to play an active role in what IJM is doing.
“If I can get a church to commit to praying, it is such a huge part of this process. People are just shocked that this is the first step and to see the role of prayer in what we do. And I tell them that the only way we can do this is by God intervening and God being the greatest part of the story that the church is writing.”
For more information and to get involved with IJM and the fight against slavery in Florida, contact Kristin Mentzer at [email protected] or Eddie Kaufholz at [email protected]. For more information visit www.ijm.org. You can also sign the petition at freedomcommons.ijm.org or visit www.stand-for-freedom.com to learn more about IJM’s Stand for Freedom Event and to find an event in your area.
Melissa Zelniker-Presser is an attorney and freelance writer who is following her God-sized dream of writing full time for God’s glory. Melissa currently runs a blog workforthecausenottheapplause.com where she shares her journey as a Jewish believer in Christ. She can be contacted at [email protected]