The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “Why am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
– Exodus 3:7-12
I felt like crying through the entirety of IJM Orientation. Our entire first week was devoted to orienting ourselves towards God, whom IJM truly believes empowers them to do their work. Allow me to pause on that for a moment…IJM truly believes that without the power and sustenance of God, they cannot do their work. Although I sort of knew that before I came to work here, I have been so amazed at the actual depth of that belief here in the office. Throughout my life, I have been exposed to a variety of different Christian workplaces, camps, and environments that claim to rely on God for their every need. I have also claimed that in my daily tasks, but the common reality is that we claim to trust God while actually putting trust in our own abilities and work ethic. What I find at IJM, however, is people who actually believe that they are helpless without God. While being some of the most competent, successful, admirable people I’ve ever met, the staff here walk in a humility and surrender to their Heavenly Father that I believe to be unmatched in the professional work. This element of surrender, combined with a passion to partner with God in the work of justice, has led IJM to rescue thousands of bonded laborers and sexually exploited children over the past 16 years. It is truly compelling work.
An excerpt from IJM’s Biblical Foundation – “From Scripture we learn that the Creator is a God of justice and righteousness; that he measures the acts of individuals against an absolute standard of divine holiness. We learn that every person, without distinction, is created in the image of God and is precious in his sight; that each individual human being is so loved by God that he gave up his only Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem from sin and death any who would believe in his name…God has sent the disciples of his Son to be salt and light in the midst of this world’s darkness and corruption in order that they might preach the Good News of salvation in Christ and demonstrate, in word and deed, God’s love and mercy toward those who suffer. We learn that a visible measure of Christian faith is the sacrificial love extended to those in need; and that while the earth awaits its final redemption in Christ, faithful men and women of God will obey His call to preach the Gospel, to seek justice, to reprove the ruthless, to plead for the weak, to remember the ill-treated and the afflicted and to deliver them, to speak for the voiceless and defend the rights of the afflicted, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, and to let the oppressed go free.”
Back to the Exodus passage – during our first day of orientation, IJM President Gary Haugen took us through this passage and landed on seven points after studying it. These points are foundational for IJM’s work across the world.
1. Suffering at the hand of the oppressor is real.
2. God does hear and see the suffering of the oppressed.
3. God rescues the oppressed.
4. God rescues the oppressed by sending his people.
5. God goes with us.
6. God brings the oppressed to a “good and broad land.”
7. Rescue and restoration return to Go as worship.
Each day at the IJM office begins with 30 minutes of stillness. From 8:30 to 9:00, a quiet settles over the office as we prepare ourselves for the day. We hit the ground running at 9:00AM and then pause again at 11:00 for communal prayer. Everyone in the office stops what they’re doing to gather together and pray for IJM’s work around the world. It is surreal to sit in as requests are made for successful prosecutions in Kenya; people rejoice over news of women, men, and children freed from a brick factories in South Asia, or stories are told of little Guatemalan girls healing after years of physical and sexual abuse. It is so inspiring to hear directly from those on the front lines of this difficult work and their words make things so much more real for those of us who are stateside.
IJM’s work is bound up in four casework outcomes:
1. Victim Relief – in short, rescuing people
2. Perpetrator Accountability – hold criminals accountable for their crimes
3. Victim Aftercare – help survivors of abuse heal and find new lives of peace and freedom
4. Structural Transformation – help communities fix long-term problems to stop abuse before it starts
IJM operates out of 16 field offices in Bolivia, Guatemala, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Kenya, South Asia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia (multiple offices in South Asia, the Philippines, & Uganda); two Casework Alliance Offices in Peru and Ecuador; and five partner offices in Canada, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia. 95% of IJM’s staff is from the country in which they work. Additionally, through “Collaborative Casework”, they “come alongside local authorities to help serve victims of abuse, not simply to criticize.” Through these sustainable methods, IJM builds bridges with the countries in which they work. Here are some examples of IJM’s work around the world:
- In Cebu, the Philippines, after four years of IJM partnership with local law enforcement, outside auditors found a stunning 79% decrease in the number of children available for commercial sexual exploitation.
- In the past five years alone, IJM has brought relief to more than 10,500 victims of violence and injustice, and secured the conviction of more than 400 violent criminals – with hundreds more on trial.
- For the past several years, IJM Guatemala has been responsible for more than one out of every three convictions for child sexual assault in Guatemala City.
Please partner with me by praying for the work of IJM. If you are a person of Christian faith, it should greatly encourage you to see people pursuing God’s work of justice all around the world. If you aren’t a person of Christian faith, I hope movements like IJM restore your faith in humanity and give you a true picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ.