Ending Slavery for Good: What I Learned From a Day on the Hill—and an Uber Ride

by Jordie Beuch / Topic: #RallyForFreedom, #EndSlaveryAct, Lobby Day, Advocacy March 15, 2017
Lobby Day in support of full funding for the End Modern Slavery Initiative, by the IJM National Student Leadership Team.

Guest blog by Jordie Beuch

Gary Haugen’s words about talking to God with authenticity and specificity as we approach the injustices of this world kept coming to my mind. Words are powerful, and as humans they are a connection point that bring tangibility in creating positive societal change. So, what does it look like when we approach one another with authenticity and specificity? What does it look like to be able to talk about impunity in such a way that brings connection and understanding?

This last week, my dear teammates and I who serve on IJM’s National Student Leadership Team came together on Capitol Hill and met with our congressional offices in regards to the End Modern Slavery Initiative. There was something so awe-inspiring about being in the heart of our nation's capital, and we were quickly able to realize the power that advocacy has.

For many, this was our first time participating in advocacy work on a national level. Setting up meetings with our senators and representatives in Washington, DC, is not an everyday thing. While there were nerves for some, Holly Burkhalter (IJM's Senior Advisor for Justice System Transformation) was gracious enough to meet with us and give us some last-minute pointers. In that was a new instilled confidence of leveraging our voices for the 45 million enslaved across the globe. My teammate Kaitlyn articulated this so well when she said, “I definitely felt the power in my voice in speaking about something I care deeply about. I learned so much along the way and felt even more confident in my understanding at the end of the day.”

Across the political spectrum, in both the House and Senate, it was encouraging for us to see the genuine interest and concern regarding slavery that each office possessed when hearing about the largest anti-slavery legislation to date. They valued what we had to say, asked questions and did it with such intentionality that made it feel so comfortable and invigorating. By the end of the day, we left not only knowing much more about the End Modern Slavery Initiative, but also feeling empowered and encouraged.

With IJM folders in hand, we got into an Uber after the meetings ended. Naturally, we began discussing our day and our new friend/driver became undoubtedly intrigued. This is when we learned that our Uber driver had never heard about slavery. Not only did we get to talk about this issue, BUT he also signed the petition asking Congress to fully fund the EMSI! It was enthralling to be a part of this, and it proved what we had known for so long. Whether on Capitol Hill or driving in the backseat of an Uber, we are advocates who can create change through concrete action, the EMSI being an example.

In everyday conversations and interactions our words have the power to speak life into an issue and make tangible impacts in the work of justice through advocacy and mobilization.

Most of the congressional offices we met with were already familiar with the EMSI, and this was one of the most exciting components. For it was not merely our team, but all of you and all of us collectively who have been able to emulate God’s desire to seek justice for the poor. It is a powerful testament displaying how our voices and efforts truly are shifting the balance of power towards justice.

Just as the Appropriations stage continues, so must our voices as we speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Let us continue to advocate with authenticity and specificity, and to prove that justice for the poor is possible.

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Help is On the Way: Support for the Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2017

by Holly Burkhalter / Topic: Advocacy, TIP Report March 15, 2017
The anti-trafficking community supports the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2017.

When someone mentions “child trafficking,” my thoughts turn to the issues IJM works on in the field: rescuing girls from sex establishments in Southeast Asia or little boys off Lake Volta in Ghana. There is another form of trafficked child labor that I’ve become familiar with through the work of good friends in the anti-trafficking community: child soldiers. Thanks to the work of Child Soldiers International, Human Rights Watch, Open Society Foundations and others the exploitation of children in the world’s worst workplaces–its battlefields–has come to light.  And good friends in Congress are doing something about it.

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Moments of Democracy

by Nate King / Topic: February 7, 2017
Just a few weeks after Inaugration Day, hundreds of advocates in Pennsylvania raised their voices and signed a postcard to President Trump and Congress.

In the United States of America, we’ve inaugurated a president only 58 times. 58 January days, each filled with pomp and circumstance, unity and contention, finality and initiation. As Americans, we’ve inaugurated only 45 American presidents. 45 heads of state, commanders in chief, leaders of the free world. Living in Washington, D.C. puts one in proximity to the rare American presidential inauguration, so I had a chance to witness the swearing-in of our 45th President.

Thousands and thousands of people descended on the National Mall to bear witness on January 20th. The mood was a mixture of excitement, despair, apprehension, hope–different feelings felt by different Americans witnessing our cherished tradition of the peaceful transition of power.

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Stand Up! For Willie, Joseph and Josephat—

by Wamaitha Kimani / Topic: #JusticeinKenya Willie Kimani #FindLawyerWillie #IamWillie February 7, 2017

For the first time in the 20-year history of International Justice Mission (IJM), a member of our staff, the late Willie Kimani, was murdered last year as he sought justice for our client Josephat Mwenda.

June 23, 2016, remains a dark day. My colleague, Willie Kimani, was abducted by police as he left court, along with our client, Josephat Mwenda and the driver of their taxi, Joseph Muiruri. The bodies of the three, with visible injuries consistent with torture, were later recovered from the Ol Donyo Sabuk river on July 1, 2016.

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What I Learned: A Leap Forward in the Fight to End Slavery

By Tim Gehring, IJM Legislative Director

This week, Congress authorized the End Modern Slavery Initiative, which was embedded in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act—legislation that sets annual national security policy and funding levels for the Department of Defense. IJM was intimately involved in the idea of the End Modern Slavery Initiative and our advocates have been deeply invested in urging Congress to pass and fund this legislation over the past two years.

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Holly's News From Washington: Our Thankful List

by Holly Burkhalter / Topic: #EndSlaveryAct, #JusticeinKenya, End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 November 10, 2016
thankful

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It reminds me to be thankful for the avalanche of blessings I’ve received. This year was no exception. 

Though there was much that was wrong and cheap and ignorant in our national conversation this past year, there was so much more that wasn’t.

Here is a list of things I’m overwhelmingly thankful for today.I am thankful for our sturdy American democracy.

For the freedom to speak our minds, print our letters and editorials, disagree passionately and vote for whom we want as our president, senators, representatives, state legislators, governors, mayors and city councilmen and women. 

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LIVE blog: seeking justice for Willie, Joseph and Josephat

by Clara Campbell / Topic: #JusticeinKenya Willie Kimani #FindLawyerWillie #IamWillie November 3, 2016
#JusticeinKenya #IamWillie

Last July, you stood with us when IJM investigator and human rights lawyer, Willie Kimani, and two friends, Joseph Muiruri and Josephat Mwenda, were abducted and murdered. You helped spark a global outcry for #JusticeinKenya and an end of police abuse of power through this ongoing petition.

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Freedom Sunday Happened (to us)!

/ Topic: Freedom Sunday, #UntilAllAreFree October 6, 2016

By Roger Bain, IJM Church Mobilization Program Manager

This past weekend, over 450+ churches nationwide stood with IJM to engage in the work of ending slavery in our world. They were from different denominations, large and small, all doing the same thing: speaking about the biblical mandate to care for the oppressed and urging congregants to act.

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Need inspiration? Welcome to The New Activist.

/ Topic: October 6, 2016

There's a new podcast in town, and it's called "The New Activist." These are the stories of men and women who are changing history today. We talked to its founder and leading host, Eddie Kaufholz, IJM's Church Mobilization Director (Southeast), to find out more about the show—and why we should all tune in.

Q&A with Eddie below, and as soon as you're ready, fill your earbuds with the inspiring action-packed sounds of "The New Activist."

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Holly's News From Washington: August 2016

by Holly Burkhalter / Topic: #JusticeinKenya, the movement August 18, 2016
#JusticeinKenya Willie Kimani #FindLawyer Willie Peaceful march demanding justice on behalf of Willie Kimani and two others. I didn’t know IJM had so many friends. 

As you know, IJM suffered the grievous loss of our colleague Willie Kimani, our friend and driver Joseph Muiruri, and our client, Josephat Mwenda. The three were abducted on June 23 after leaving a Nairobi courthouse; their bodies were found on July 1. Four Kenyan police officers have been arrested and charged with their murder. 

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