Gratitude and Stillness - The International Justice Mission (IJM) and the Problem of Human Trafficking

Yesterday I interviewed a man who works with the International Justice Mission (IJM) in order to write an article based on his work. 

I am always amazed by people who work on the front lines dealing with such horrible atrocities as human trafficking - and their stories.

This man had two which really affected me. 

He gave me the figure that there are 40 million held in some form of slavery today. 2022. That blows me away and seems completely overwhelming.

Sometimes it can also be hard to remember these victims are individuals who have been created in God’s image, not simply a number.

A young man named Godwin is one such individual. Like many others, his family was deceived into sending Godwin into what they thought was a safe environment - where he could get the education he craved and learn a trade.

He ended up being trafficked to Lake Volta to work in their fishing industry. Instead of fulfilling his dream of advanced schooling, he was in a nightmare of 12-14-hour days of hard labor. One of the slaves’ tasks was to dive and untangle nets. Many didn’t know how to swim… drowning was common.

However, Godwin was relentless and clever. He acquired a cell phone and got in touch with an aunt on the outside who was looking for him. She called the local police who connected with IJM. Together, they rescued Godwin.

“A part of what blows me away is that even in the moment of rescue, even as he’s finally experiencing this freedom and release that he didn’t imagine was possible before, he was already saying to the police and IJM folks there, ‘You’ve gotta go back. I know where more kids are. You’ve got to go back,’” the man I interviewed recalled.

After Godwin was safe, he told IJM where the others were. They were also rescued.

This account made me upset at what those boys faced (and others still do) but it gave me chills about how Godwin reacted after reaching safety. 

The other account was how those at IJM start their days. 

He told me that even though they've had great success in rescuing and protecting thousands, it can still be overwhelming with the huge number of those still in need of help. So, every day every IJM employee starts the day by spending time with God for 30 minutes... in stillness. Then they get together as a team, pray together, and remind each other that this is God's work.

I've thought a lot about these two aspects of life. 

I know that when I am in the throes of a pity-party, it's almost impossible to use the old adage, "It could be worse," to help me feel better. While in that state, as embarrassing and humbling as it is to admit, it's difficult (for me, at least) to look past those overwhelming feelings and realize that I can find much to be grateful for even while experiencing struggles. 

I can't help but wonder if that time of stillness with God would make a big difference. Personally, I'm not directly fighting human trafficking. But I do have my own fights, issues where I feel that God wants me to be a voice. 

Maybe even if I'm not part of a huge team fighting the incredibly huge problem of human trafficking, taking the time for stillness and prayer, and reminding myself that what I'm doing in my small way is God's work will help with that gratitude, which will help with every part of life.

And by the way, to help this movement, go to www.IJM.org and click “Get Involved.”

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