The journey into social justice for me began the summer of 2010 with a support letter.
Any of you who have worked in ministry or have gone on a mission trip have probably written a few of these with hesitancy. You hate asking people for money, even though you know that your letter is asking for more than money; you’re asking for prayer, you’re sharing with people a way that they can join with you in a ministry that maybe they cannot physically participate in, you are making people aware. Emily’s letter was just like that. A college student, she was heading off for a summer intern with a group called International Justice Mission (IJM) in Washington, DC. I read her letter and was struck by what she said. She was going to go and fight modern day slavery. What? Slavery exists today.
Slavery Exists Today?
I was appalled. I was curious. I could not fathom that there were places in the world that still had slavery. Thankfully America had gotten rid of slavery 150 years ago, but what about these other backwards nations still holding slaves? I had to know. I went on IJM’s website and began reading and reading and reading. The facts were horrible: 27 million slaves in the world, more than at any other time in history and more than all the slaves brought to America during the entire 350 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. And they were not only in some backwards country, they were here in America. Many coming in each year from foreign nations, but others picked up off our streets, children, forced into the sex industry. How could this be? I checked books out of the library all that summer. Soon I was reading and realizing that there was very little new information I was getting from articles and books. I was becoming well educated.
Moving to Action
My daughter ran a Loose Change to Loosen Chains campaign that summer as a scout and we took the money down to IJM in DC for an extended weekend, volunteering one night in their offices and then spending the next day in the American History Museum learning about the history of slavery in America. We continued to support IJM in the years that followed, but sending a check just didn’t seem like enough. While at IJM we met Gary Haugen and some of that year’s interns. They began talking about the book Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I devoured that book as well and found my eyes opened to other horrors that went beyond the scope of human trafficking. Eventually I would find like-minded friends, create a church ministry that was service oriented, and then a second ministry that would eventually replace the first focused on social justice issues. From that ministry The Hannah More Project would be birthed.
It has been over five years since that letter. Emily never got any financial support from us, but her letter changed my life. Her faithfulness to go and the letter that maybe she sent out with some hesitancy had ripples that she most likely never imagined. Thank you, Emily, for opening my eyes to things I didn’t know about. I hope that the ripples continue throughout this year as The Hannah More Project launches.