“Let my people go…”
“After this presentation to Israel’s leaders, Moses and Aaron went and spoke to Pharaoh. They told him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Let my people go so they may hold a festival in my honour in the wilderness.”
It has been said (by rather weary and jesting individuals) that I had within me a sense of injustice from infancy. And, in part, I think this is true. I empathised with those in positions of vulnerability and need; when the ‘Save the Children” advertisements came on, I pleaded with my parents to help “that little girl”. But such moments were as fleeting as can be expected from a child. Issues of social justice did not yet hugely affect my life and likely, most frequently arose in the context of feeling grossly wronged by my parents or school teachers – i.e. when things didn’t go the way they should in ‘Lucy-ville’.
It was, however, at the early age of fourteen that such passions were pointed in a more constructive direction. An organisation, ‘International Justice Mission’ (IJM), had come to speak to my school Christian Union. The speaker shared the story of a girl, deceived into applying for a job in a café that would lead her down a path of entrapment and sexual exploitation. As a young girl, my heart broke for her. She was my friend, my sister, me. We then learned that lawyers from ‘IJM’ had worked closely with the local police force to rescue this girl, along with many others ‘working’ in that place. They prosecuted and convicted those involved in her daily torture. We learned of how IJM had walked with these women in their slow journey of physical and mental recovery. And of how the little girl with whom the story began, was now an advocate against sex trafficking, speaking out for others, like her, who could not yet speak for themselves…
At the age of fourteen, I sat listening and I knew that this is what God was calling me to do. He was saying, “Let my people go”. He was asking me to speak up for those who do not have the privilege to speak for themselves, to fight for the rights of the vulnerable and the oppressed. And so that day, my vague musings regarding injustice were shaped into my current aspirations to (continue to) study law and to represent the oppressed, the victimised, those who cannot represent themselves and often whose government’s do not want to be spoken for.
As Christians, we are to model ourselves on God. A God who is just, a God who commands, “Let my people go“. To you, this might not look like something that affects your entire career. However, it should affect your entire world view. For a Christian, social justice is not an optional extra that you can choose to annexe onto your faith. The gospel is justice. As Christians, we are commanded to care about justice. Proverbs 3:8 reads, ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.’ This will take many different forms in each of our lives. Social justice does not have to be intimidating. Combatting it is not about big sweeping statements and grand gestures. It can be as simple as being informed and making small, intentional lifestyle changes. This is what ‘Stand for Freedom’ is all about. Stand for freedom is inviting people to become more educated about the issue of human trafficking and how it manifests itself in the technological age. It is an event that provides people with practical ways to combat issues such as human trafficking in the supply chain of a mobile phone or cyber-sex trafficking of children.
It was IJM’s Sharon Cohn Wu who once said, “To succumb to the enormity of the problem is to fail the one. And more is required of us.” Come along to ‘Stand for Freedom’ this weekend. And yes, be outraged with us at the many atrocities happening over the world to trafficked people. But be encouraged at what the many wonderful organisations are doing to combat such horrendous crimes and by the things that you can do in your everyday life that could make a huge difference to ‘that little girl’. Let us take up the same burdens of a God that cries, “Let my people go”.