Your church can help victims of human trafficking find true freedom both physically and spiritually, said Larry Martin. As believers, he added, it’s our duty.
Martin, the Southeast Director of Church Mobilization for International Justice Mission (IJM), shared about the organization’s fight against human trafficking at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest earlier this fall. Southeastern’s Center for Faith and Culture hosted Martin for a seminar on “The Unfamiliar Passions of God.”
IJM is a human rights agency that helps rescue victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. Read more at http://www.ijm.org.
When Martin first took a position with IJM in 2001, he was traveling around 300,000 miles a year to support the ministry. Now, as a director of church mobilization, Martin spends most of his time in the United States informing churches about the organization’s work and how they can become involved.
Because of the work of the International Justice Mission (IJM) thousands of people have been freed from slavery. IJM is made up of Christian lawyers, criminal investigators and social workers. They learn the ins and outs of local governments and seek justice for victims of human trafficking.
Martin said too often people forget about God’s passion for the world because it’s a “great big mess,” which at times can seem overwhelming.
“1.5 billion people have no medical care,” he said. “They just don’t get a doctor. I’m seeing children wake up on the streets.”
Referencing 2 Corinthians 5:20, Martin said Christians can engage the world by showing the impoverished the glory of God and offering all they can to help.
IJM has handled many cases of injustice in South Asia and has helped rescue thousands out of slavery. IJM is made up of Christian lawyers, criminal investigators and social workers. They work in foreign countries, mostly the poorest countries, in order to help victims of injustice.
These workers learn the ins and outs of local governments and their justice systems and then work with the local officials to seek justice for their clients.
IJM handles all of its casework overseas because some governments don’t have the resources of trained lawyers and court systems that Americans are able to access.
IJM workers persistently pursue local officials with cases of injustice, Martin said. Workers also have seen impactful responses of progress in local governments taking action on their own, and this is one of IJM’s goals.
Some of the lives impacted by IJM’s work include Shama and Jvoti.
Shama was sold into slavery as a child when her family was unable to pay the medical bill for her sibling’s delivery. For her new master, she had to roll 2,000 cigarettes a day or suffer beatings.
Jyoti was held captive for years in sex trafficking. Women in her hometown drugged her and sold her to a brothel when she was 14. She was beaten and forced into the sex trafficking life.
One day in her brothel a believer shared Jesus with her. Jyoti believed and Christ transformed her life. An IJM investigator showed up a week later and led a raid into the brothel and freed Jyoti.
Referencing the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000, Martin said the Lord asks Christians to give what they can to help those, like Shama and Jyoti, who are in need of rescue.
“All He asks is that we would come forward … to offer up what we have,” said Martin adding that in the end, Jesus feeds the masses.
“If you want your light to shine brightly, you have to take it into these dark places.”
Martin recommended several resources to aid churches interested in international and national justice issues. Some of those resources included “At the End of Slavery.”
It’s a kit designed to inspire people to take action against slavery. It also provides helpful tips on writing senators about legislation that fights slavery.
He also recommended two books. They include The Just Church: Becoming a Risk-Taking, Justice-Seeking, Disciple-Making Congregation by Jim Martin and Gary Haugen. Haugen, IJM’s president and CEO, also wrote Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian. Both books address how Christians can take on the topic of injustice and become involved.