Until All Are Free
One of the things I love about Chapel Hill Church is that we don’t shy away from the difficult things in life. We wade into addiction with our Celebrate Recovery Ministry. We don’t look away from issues like homelessness with the Compassion Kit Builds and partnership with Tacoma Rescue Mission. We love our neighbors at Washington Correction Center for Women with the visitation ministry many of you heard about at GodSpace this week. As Pastor Mark likes to say, we run towards the giant.
Two years ago, our friends at International Justice Mission came to us with a need. They needed a church to commit to praying for one of their newer projects, and they knew we had the courage to take it on. As IJM has seen the Lord continue to answer prayers around the world for freedom for those held in modern day slavery, they have also been exposed to greater and more repugnant forms of slavery. They asked us if we would be willing to pray for the Philippines office that directly combats the issue of Cybersex Trafficking of minors, sometimes as young as two years old. This project is particularly significant for the Western Church, because the consumers of the product of cybersex trafficking are mostly American men.
My initial response to this project was repulsion and despair. My heart shattered thinking about the reality that at times it is the child’s own parent who are the perpetrators of this horrible bondage and that the people watching it are middle/upper class white men. I found myself asking God, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1). I didn’t feel like I had the courage to stand up to this giant.
Gary Haugen, the founder of IJM and friend of Chapel Hill, says when the powerful of the world do not speak up for the vulnerable, the vulnerable continue in a cycle of violence and material poverty. But when the powerful of the world speak up, they help break that cycle and both the powerful and vulnerable move closer to the One who is the perfect balance of power and vulnerability, Jesus Christ. By standing up to giants like cybersex trafficking, we become more like Jesus. This is part of our discipleship process.
The challenge from IJM is to have the audacity to pray with authenticity and specificity. This weekend, we will hear how our audacious and specific prayers have been answered. And we will pray again, and again, and again. We will call on our great God of justice and mercy. We will cry out for freedom for the captive and release for the prisoner. We will pray with boldness and bravery. We will not stop praying until ALL are free.
“O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.” Psalm 10:17-18
Until All Are Free,
Director of Missions
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about our partnership with the International Justice Mission and to hear about their work to combat the trafficking of minors in the Philippines, join us this Sunday from 12:15-1:30 pm in the upstairs boardroom. IJM’s Philippines country director will share more about how they’re working on the biblical mandate to “set the captives free!” Coffee and cookies provided.