Human Trafficking and the Freedom Challenge

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Although I know that this world is riddled with brokenness and injustice, I sometimes feel removed and disengaged. I am a stay-at-home mom to 3 school-age children, living on a dairy farm in rural Saskatchewan. Talk about isolated! In my quaint little community, it is easier to focus on the needs of my family and myself, rather than open my eyes and heart to social justice issues of the world. It would be oh-so-simple to make some cookies for Bible study, help my kids with their reading books, fry some ground beef for supper, and call it a day! But since this is a blog about issues of social injustice and the church, you can probably guess that God is challenging me.

The issue that I have become involved with is human trafficking. It sometimes feels like an unlikely fit, but my journey has God’s hand all over it! Several years ago a friend of mine became involved with the Freedom Challenge (formerly the Freedom Climb), a project of Operation Mobilization. I learned that the purpose of the Freedom Challenge is to raise funds and awareness to prevent, rescue, and restore trafficking victims.  

It sometimes feels like an unlikely fit, but my journey has God’s hand all over it!

At the time, I only knew that “human trafficking” sounded sinister and foreign. But my interest was piqued to read articles, watch movies, and hear the accounts of women and children in heartbreaking situations. Human trafficking is a global issue on a huge scale. But what rips into my soul is that this is also local—it is happening in every province, big city, and small town of beautiful Canada. Young women are coerced. Teenagers are manipulated. Little girls are taken. This William Wilberforce quote resonated in me: “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” Enter that helpless, isolated feeling of living in rural Saskatchewan! And then, enter God’s timing!

I decided to participate in the July 2014 Freedom Climb in Colorado. I spent 6 months fundraising and talking about human trafficking. Then I spent 4 days summiting mountains as a symbolic gesture of the climb to freedom faced by victims of human trafficking. God’s Word clearly directs that we need to make action and advocacy a part of our lives, if we are followers of the Lord Jesus. Sometimes advocacy makes me feel like I am the crazy lady who is obsessed with issues that are not my own. Other times I feel like the passive, lukewarm Christian who is scraping through life without making any difference. I suspect that the truth is somewhere in between!

Enter that helpless, isolated feeling of living in rural Saskatchewan! And then, enter God’s timing!

Doing justice in my circumstances does present unique challenges. I could claim that I am disconnected, geographically and socially, from the issue of human trafficking. But anyone could be affected, and there are ample opportunities for anyone to get involved. If your church community is not already working and praying about human trafficking, you can be the pioneer! Ask other churches in your community–they might have awareness or fundraising activities you could get involved in. My local city has a trafficking awareness Facebook page; there are walks, rides, polar dips, petitions, and fundraiser suppers. Ask a few friends who are up for an adventure, and go!

I have had the pleasure of hearing Joy Smith (of the Joy Smith Foundation) speak on a couple occasions. Her stories are Canadian (including rural western Canada), shocking, and true. A visit to her website reveals multiple ways to get involved. The organization’s video “15 A Day”, is only 44 seconds in length, but has huge impact.

But I allowed the Holy Spirit to burden me with a desire to DO something.

I was asked to write from my perspective about issues of social justice, though I have very limited experience. And if you are reading this post, this is what I would like you to hear: I am a wife and a mother. Yes, God created me unique and special in His eyes, but I am not uniquely gifted. I don’t have remarkable abilities or connections. I am a sinner with selfish tendencies. But I allowed the Holy Spirit to burden me with a desire to DO something. God delights in taking our humble efforts and making them something acceptable to Him.

I am preparing to return to Colorado for the 2017 Freedom Challenge this summer. As I fundraise, talk about human trafficking, and prepare physically, I will be remembering my purpose. Outside of my comfortable life there is a huge need. Women of all ages and experience levels are welcome to step out in faith. Maybe you, or someone you know, would be interested in participating? Visit the Freedom Challenge website or contact me for more information (karen.jacobi.omc@gmail.com)!

May God bless each of you, as you allow God to use you right where you are!

This article was originally posted on Do Justice, the blog of the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue and the Office of Social Justice. Visit Do Justice to sign up for the email so you don't miss a post!

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Thank you for sharing! Human trafficking is horrendous and infuriating. Thank you for doing something about it.

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