Why I’m Standing: Patrick Middleton

If I’m honest, fighting for justice had never really been something I’d thought about before coming to Oxford. It wasn’t as if I didn’t have empathy for those all over the world who were suffering, I had just never allowed myself to engage with the issue. I felt that I could justify my lack of action by convincing myself that God had called me to other areas of ministry; yet I quickly realised, upon learning more about the ethos behind Just Love, that God calls every Christian to fight for justice, no matter where we feel our own strengths lie.

This year, Just Love has committed to supporting International Justice Mission, a multinational charity, in their campaign against cybersex trafficking, an emerging form of exploitation, which involves children being forced to perform sex acts, the footage of which is then streamed to paying predators across the world. Before I got involved with Just Love, I was aware of the ‘conventional’ trafficking industry, but had no idea about the extent to which the development of technology has influenced trafficking. Growing accessibility to the internet has allowed traffickers to take their trade online, making the crimes far more difficult to track and legislate against. IJM has dedicated itself to working with local law enforcement in various countries – including the Philippines, where cybersex trafficking is particularly prolific – to prosecute successfully against the perpetrators of this horrific crime.

In the face of such atrocities, it can sometimes be hard to know how best to respond. At times, when learning about the realities of this trafficking, I felt somewhat despondent about what I could realistically do to help these children, sitting thousands of miles away at my desk, while simultaneously feeling guilty about the privilege I’ve been born into. At these low points, it is my faith in God’s love that keeps me going; however much our hearts break for those suffering around the world, His heart feels their pain even more. He does not wish this injustice upon them, but rather inspires those of us who have a voice to speak out. One of the slogans we have used in the Stand for Freedom is ‘They don’t have a choice but YOU do’; for me, this encapsulates God’s challenge to each of us in our fight against injustice.

Events like Stand for Freedom are so important in raising public awareness of causes that are so often overlooked. Supporting IJM’s campaign gives us an opportunity to make a lasting difference in people’s lives, freeing them from the entrapment that trafficking inflicts upon them. We can make a tangible difference, no matter how far removed from the issue we often seem to be.

Isaiah 58:6 reads: “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people”. God longs for justice and freedom is this world, and calls each of us, without exception, to take action and fight for it. Will you respond and join both Just Love and IJM in taking a stand?

Stand for Freedom: Behind the Screen is taking place from 3pm on Friday until 3pm on Saturday of 4th week in Bonn Square.