John Perkins who later trained the Haitian Jean Thomas how to do CCD in Haiti trained me in Christian Community Development. CCD is a good and effective way to rebuild poor communities.
But it is not the only way to release the oppressed. So in this blog I would like to tell the story of International Justice Mission. Twenty years ago the founder of IJM, Gary Haugen, was sitting in his car crying because he was afraid he couldn’t make payroll for his young organization. Two decades later IJM has a 74 million dollar organization. Today it is the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization.
IJM began in the Philippines wrestling with sex trafficking and violence. Two decades later, “We have about one hundred staff in the Philippines and the country has been transformed. When the government is working on anything having to do with violence against children, they turn to IJM. Today we have more than five thousand churches involved in fifty-one countries raising awareness of the need to end every day violence.”
IJM is a non-governmental organization so in that sense it is not a church organization but they have kept their church ties as a priority so IJM is a creation of the church. Five thousand churches, but dozens of corporations as well. “We are involved with the World Economic Forum and an alliance of companies called the Global Battery Alliance, a group trying to deal with issues of violence and slavery.”
IJM has tried hard to build a network of partners.
“So in the next ten years of IJM, we are tackling the issue, Can we transform this broken justice system? So we have found out what is broken in the system. It was also a way to build bridges with the authorities. And as we partnered with authorities the systems began to work immeasurably in more effective ways. We found anywhere from 75-85 percent reduction in the level of violence, and these reductions are happening in three to five years.”
To summarize: IJM brings legal expertise, financial resources and partners together to tackle a specific problem such as child slavery in depth. They have expertise and commitment. They are producing results. So there are different ways to release the oppressed. Another way is pushing a living wage. For the head of a family of four working at minimum wage is essentially slave labor so cities and states are now pushing for living wages not just minimum wages.
For a scriptural inspiration read Isaiah 58:6 and following in The Message.
For the full story on IJM, read the article, Abolitionism at the Tipping Point in Christianity Today, January/February 2019 issue.