I’ve met some wonderful people and been introduced to some fantastic ministries in the short time that I have been seeking to pursue God’s heart for the trafficked, exploited and enslaved. Some have become goods friends and great partners in the gospel. One of those people is Jason Bushell who recently moved to Cardiff as a rep for IJM. I asked Jason to write an article for the Rant to introduce both himself and the ministry of IJM. Please do give it a good read and stand with Jason and his family in prayer.
“Again I saw all of the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them. On the side of their oppressors there was power and there was no one to comfort them.” [Eccl. 4:1]
Inspired 3000 years ago, Solomon’s words ring true today, with 4 billion of our global neighbours unprotected by the law. Nearly 30 million trapped in short, brutal, dead-end lives of slavery.
As a teacher of History for over twenty years I had assumed that slavery was a thing of the past; I hadn’t been paying attention! My awakening came in the Passion Conferences where I was first exposed to the depths and extent of modern slavery. Primary school-age girls trapped in brothels, raped daily for others’ profit. Widows, with their young children, being forced off their property, left destitute and vulnerable. Children in back-breaking, bonded labour in brick factories, rock quarries and rice mills, never allowed to know or enjoy the freedom that childhood should bring.
A glimpse of such horror can leave us paralysed in despair. Yet despair, as C.S. Lewis wrote, “is a greater sin than any of the sins that provoke it”; it belittles or denies the power of our great God. It is then that we must listen to the voice of Jesus telling us to “Take heart! I have overcome the world”. [Jn.16:33] Our Father cares deeply about injustice and wants to work through us to bring rescue to the victims. [Is.1:17, Mic.6:8, Mat.23:23]
International Justice Mission was founded in 1997 in response to the Bible’s call to “seek justice”. Our vision is “to rescue thousands, protect millions and prove that justice for the poor is possible”. With 18 Field Offices in countries such as Bolivia, Uganda, India and Cambodia and with a staff of over 600 Christian lawyers, investigators and social workers, IJM rescues people from violent oppression, brings criminals to justice under local laws so they cannot abuse, exploit or enslave others, restores survivors to safety and strength and transforms justice systems by helping law enforcement defend and protect the poor – stopping violence before it ever starts. Last year alone over 3,500 were rescued from slavery, more than 300 criminals were restrained and 153 convicted. Over 4000 survivors of violence received aftercare services.
My role as IJM’s representative in Wales is to encourage the local church to mobilise and actively seek justice. Nearly 30 million slaves is a problem but IJM’s work proves there is hope if we make 30 million slaves a priority. We can, by God’s grace, end slavery in our generation; not because we are awesome but because we serve an awesome God of justice who is ready to move in power if we are ready to move in obedience. It’s not only about what God wants us to do, but who God wants us to be.