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.
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
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
IJM’s wonderful Advocacy Summit is coming up fast! We can’t wait to have our friends from around the United States converge on Washington for advocacy training and story-telling followed by a day of meetings with members of Congress, senators and their staff in support of our cherished End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 (EMSI, #EndSlaveryAct). Many of those coming to the Advocacy Summit are experienced lobbyists, having visited their Senate and House offices many times. But for some, it will be the first time up on Capitol Hill. Either way, we want to make sure our advocates are well prepared.Read More