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.
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.Read More
For many of us, justice is more than just some abstract societal good or virtue—it is a conscious decision, a sense of calling to tangibly better the lives of others. What’s more, justice only comes about when ordinary individuals come together to create positive change.Read More
Last month, over 80 anti-slavery activists visited 78 Senate and House offices to support the End Modern Slavery Initiative, EMSI. The group included pastors and advocacy leaders who were in Washington (with 1,600 others) for International Justice Mission’s annual Global Prayer Gathering. The advocates spent an extra day and night in DC to let their members of Congress and senators know that they supported the End Modern Slavery Initiative and urge their support.Read More
Top photo: Tony Hale and some of the IJM crew at the beginning of our day.
True confession: I’ve never watched “Arrested Development.” (Huge pop culture FAIL, I know.) I'm not caught up on "Veep." So when I found out I was going to be accompanying Tony Hale around Capitol Hill for a day, I was worried the whole casual conversation thing was going to be a little awkward.Read More
On May 5, 2016, Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana became the 39th cosponsor of the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act (EMSI; S.553). This bill will bring together private and public funding to replicate successful anti-slavery models. In other words, the EMSI is a real game-changer in the fight to end modern-day slavery around the world.
That’s why IJM and our friends have been working so hard to make sure this bill becomes a law. As you’ll know since the first time you watched Schoolhouse Rock: I’m Just a Bill, there’s a lot that can happen to a bill on its way from its sponsor’s desk to the president’s pen. It’s incredibly important that a bill have strong support behind it for it to stand a chance.Read More
By Jessica Harkins
Can I be honest with you? I’ve learned pretty much everything I know about politics and Capitol Hill from watching The West Wing, VEEP, and House of Cards. Sorry, Dad. By now, most of us, at least my fellow interns at IJM, have binge-watched our way through season 4 of House of Cards. We’ve watched Frank Underwood whip the votes with fear and terror for four horrifying seasons, and we’ve thanked God we’re not under President Underwood’s jurisdiction.Read More
Goodbyes are hard, which is why I’m completely avoiding this one.
February was my last month with IJM. The ending was bittersweet, and came faster than anyone would want at such a lovely, transformational place, but good things are ahead. Starting in March, I took on a new executive role in my hometown of Charlottesville, VA serving survivors of labor and sex trafficking—I’m still in this fight! And so I get to still write this …Read More
We at IJM have been working around the clock over the past week to help our anti-slavery champion, Senator Bob Corker, bring the End Modern Slavery Initiative (EMSI) to the Senate floor for a vote. It is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, March 8. EMSI, if enacted, would create a public-private foundation to fund slavery eradication in heavily-burdened countries. EMSI’s approach prioritizes actually freeing slaves and bringing perpetrators to justice. Senator Corker was inspired to develop this legislation by IJM’s anti-slavery casework around the world.Read More
Image note: Rene began his career with IJM in the Guatemala office (where this picture was taken), where we are working to protect children from sexual violence. To find out more about IJM's work in Guatemala, please see this page on our website.