As many of you reading this probably know, a cause that Caleb and I feel very drawn to is the fight against Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation (HTSE). It is an injustice issue that I was first introduced to in college and have been learning about/getting involved with ever since.
This month, I have decided to participate in a social movement to raise awareness about HTSE called Dressember. You can read all about it on their website here and see some pictures of my Dressember campaign below (essentially, I have committed to wearing a dress every day in December to help raise awareness!). If you feel at all inclined to give financially, I am SO close to reaching my goal of $500 and giving can be done on my personal campaign page here (you can also find more info here)!
Today I wanted to re-share a post that we did on the blog last year about HTSE.
What led me to originally share this post was a realization I had had last winter. “I wonder if, oftentimes as Americans, we feel really thankful and fortunate for the blessings and freedoms we do have in our lives. And because we feel thankful, we feel compelled to bless and help others who might not be so fortunate. So, we’re feeling inspired to give and to help, BUT … we don’t know how. There are so many needs — where do we look? Who do we give to? What’s actually making a difference? And in all the questions, it almost becomes too complicated to make the first move. To actually do something.
I hope that today’s post will introduce you to an organization that Caleb and I believe in, 110%. An organization that one of our dear friends, Ali, used to work for. I figured, who better than her to tell us more about this organization — International Justice Mission — what they’re doing to make a significant impact in the world and how YOU, too, can get involved and make a difference.
1. What is International Justice Mission (IJM)?
IJM is a international non-profit organization founded on the idea that it is indeed possible to protect the poor around the world from everyday violence. IJM is a team of lawyers, social workers, investigators, and community activists that focus specifically on the issues of slavery, sex trafficking, sexual violence, police abuse of power, illegal property seizure, and hill tribe citizenship rights on a global scale. IJM aims to wipe out impunity all together by prosecuting criminals who commit violent crimes against the poor.
With 17 field offices around the globe, IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors in aftercare facilities, and strengthen broken justice systems. IJM has rescued over 25,000 people from bondage to this day. And that number will rise … until every person is free. Until there is no more bondage. Until there is no more oppression against the poor. Until every person on this planet lives a life of physical, emotional, and spiritual freedom.
I really like this quote from their website:
For poor people in the developing world, violence is relentless, so we’re committed to being even more relentless. We rescue individuals, one by one. That’s where our work starts. But that’s not where it ends. We’re also stopping the violence BEFORE it starts by helping local law enforcement, courts and communities sustainably protect vulnerable people.
2. How long did you work for IJM and what did you do?
I was an intern at IJM in their Strategic Partnerships Department … code for FUNDRAISING! My team & I worked to connect with mid- and major level donors who make the incredible work of IJM possible. IJM has a really amazing internship program which included for us weekly lunches with senior level leaders, one-on-one mentoring throughout the internship, and an intensive strengths-finding workshop. I also had the opportunity to attend their annual Leadership Summit. This event brings together 200 advocates of IJM’s work who live across the US, teaching a crash course on effective lobbying strategies. On day two, all 200 of us went to Capitol Hill for one on one meetings with 100+ Congressmen and staff to talk about how US foreign policy and funding has the potential to eradicate the issue of violence against the poor globally if effectively allocated.
3. Did working for IJM change your perspective on the organization?
I think one of the coolest things I learned during my time with IJM was about the IJM culture and environment. IJM prides itself on being a Christian non-profit, but you never really know what that actually means to an organization unless you see it from the inside. Is that a title that they gave themselves to seem more appealing to the American church community? Or do they really entrust every bit of their work and victory to God Himself? I found out on my first day that IJM has an entire department devoted to spiritual development. Each work day, the ENTIRE IJM staff begins the day with 30 minutes of solitude. In addition to daily solitude, we have daily corporate prayer — all of the IJM staff at their DC headquarters piles into a conference room 11:00-11:30 daily for corporate prayer. We spend time thanking God for recent successes in the field, and then lifting up prayer requests & praying for upcoming operations, trials, recovering clients, fundraising, and more. Every. Single. Day. This means an hour of the work day at IJM is spent asking God to be the catalyst of everything IJM does and celebrating all of the ways He has proven Himself to be just that. This aspect of my internship was a dream come true — finding out that the organization I had a major philanthropy crush on for years was everything it claimed to be and more.
4. Why do you believe in what this organization is doing?
I believe in the work of IJM for a few reasons. I believe it’s our obligation to protect the powerless, and to advocate for the orphans and widows. Frankly, I also believe in their work because it is a multifaceted solution to a multifaceted problem. And get this — it works.
For example, Project Lantern tested the true success of the IJM model. An external third party audited the availability of children for sexual exploitation in Cebu, Philippines. Post-audit, IJM entered Cebu and implemented their strategies for training local Filipino law enforcement and prosecuting perpetrators of violence against children. The external, third party auditor came back three years later to test the success of IJM’s model after their three year presence in the Cebu community. The results were astounding. There was a 76% drop in the availability of children for sexual exploitation after just three years of implementation of the IJM model. This is why I believe in the work of IJM — because I believe stopping modern day slavery is our moral obligation — and THIS works.
5. How can we partner with IJM?
There are a couple ways!
- Pray. Pray that they would continue to do this important work on behalf of God’s people. Also, for IJM staff’s protection. They see and experience very intense, dark circumstances daily. That they would be protected from the heaviness that this kind of exposure can bring. And finally, that God would continue to provide the funding to continue this fight for justice for all.
- Share! Tell people about the millions of people facing violent injustice daily and about what IJM is doing to change that. IJM CEO Gary Haugen says, “Awareness cannot end modern day slavery alone. But without awareness, slavery will never end.”
- Give. IJM is 98% funded by supporters like me and you. Normal people who believe this work is important and matters. Host a progressive dinner & have friends bring a donation. Host penny wars at your school & give all the funds to IJM. Sign up to become a freedom partner (someone who gives just 24 dollars a month to IJM). Every bit matters. This funding is truly the difference between life and death for IJM’s clients. More resources = More rescue.
6. Ali, if readers were to leave with just one takeaway from our interview with you about IJM, what would you want it to be?
Everyday violence against the poor plagues our world. But justice is possible. And it starts with you and me.