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.”nslt-and-holly-2017.jpg
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