On a summer night six years ago, the Lord burdened the hearts of my two best friends and me, and he moved us to act. We were tired of just hearing statistics and stories about human trafficking. We wanted to so something.
That night, Save Our Sisters was born.
After much prayer, we asked our youth pastor if we could have a cookout with our youth group to raise some money. That was our first event in September 2010. This summer, July 2017, we will open the first of two safe homes for rescued trafficking victims in Moldova. And it all started with a sleepover.
Our desire to do something that night did not come from our knowledge about the slave industry—because trust me, we knew nothing—but that desire came from what we loved. And this is what we’ve learned: You walk in justice when you love justice, and our love for justice must come from our love for Jesus.
So how do you walk in justice? More than that, how do you love justice? The greatest truth about justice is that it has a name, and that name is Jesus Christ.
We can learn what it means to walk in justice, to love justice, by looking at Jesus. What did Jesus love? How did he choose justice everyday?
Justice in Scripture
In our pursuit of justice, the Lord has used three specific passages to clarify what it means to walk in justice as a believer. In Isaiah 61:1, 3, the prophet writes:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
In this passage, the prophet Isaiah is talking about the Christ that is to come and what he will be like. This is the same passage of Scripture that Jesus reads in the synagogue in Luke 4. Luke tells us that after Jesus finished reading, he rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant and told the congregation, “Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).
Jesus came to earth, anointed by the spirit of God, to do just this: To bind up the broken-hearted, to preach good news and to set the captives free. And Luke 4 teaches us that if we are in Christ, this is also our calling. We are the ones now anointed by the Spirit. We are the ones sent to bind up the broken-hearted, to preach the good news and to set captives free. When Save Our Sisters began, we realized with so much conviction that to be like Christ means we must walk in justice. The Lord has made that very clear, and we want to be obedient.
Another passage that always reminds me of what I should love is Matthew 23:23. In this passage we find Jesus sternly correcting the Pharisees for trying to gain favor with the Lord by keeping the letter of the law, while completely missing the spirit of the law: to love God, and to love others. Jesus tells them, “[you] have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23). Walking in justice is about loving God, loving what God loves and loving our neighbor.
The Lord has shown me that he does not just call us to fight for justice, or just to campaign at an event. More than that, he calls us to love justice, to clothe ourselves in justice and to walk in it daily. True justice is a little less about passionate advocacy, although that is definitely a part of any justice ministry. But it is more about faithful love.
3 Ways to Walk in Justice
So how do you love justice? What do you do when the problem of injustice seems overwhelming and pervasive?
1. Be a conscious consumer.
Educate yourself and start considering what small life choices you can make to create life change for your neighbor. For example, my husband and I have decided to buy only fair-trade coffee and chocolate for our home, where we know that our enjoyment of those good things does not come at the expense of hours of exploited labor for harvesters on harsh cocoa and coffee bean farms.
Also, consider where your clothes come from. Often, large department stores and even many name-brand companies outsource their labor to factories in Southeast Asia where woman may work for 16-20 hours a day for little to no pay. Practically, you can buy second-hand clothes, where your consumer money is not going back into the pockets of these companies but towards a local business or non-profit like Goodwill. Another way to do this is to adopt a minimalist mindset and slowly start to replace your wardrobe with fair-trade clothing from companies that pay their employees a fair wage.
2. Stop watching pornography.
This seems like it might be unnecessary to say, but it is not. Pornography is inextricably linked to the international sex-slave trade. Nearly 80% of the woman and children found in pornographic material have been forced, coerced or threated into preforming sex acts in front of cameras and many of them are sold, traded and trafficked by pimps. The connection between the sex-slave industry and pornography can no longer go unnoticed.
The revenue from sex trafficking is higher than ever before at $99 billion dollars annually, and that is largely due to Internet consumers. In addition to explicit pornography, the soft porn found in many movies and shows today are the result of America’s hyper-sexualized culture and further desensitize us to the humanity of the person we are watching. So, consider what you watch and the effect it has for the 22 million sex slaves around the world.
3. Care for the orphan.
Orphans, whether they have biologically lost both parents or are functionally left without guardians, are among society’s most vulnerable. Because of their vulnerability and lack of life skills they are intentionally preyed upon by traffickers and after a period of conditioning are exploited for sex and labor. There are a multitude of ways to care for orphans, and the Lord has made it clear that this is part of justice and part of being a believer:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)
You can care for orphans through adoption, sponsorship, support of orphan-care ministries, fundraising for adoptive families, fostering and fostering to adopt domestically. The foster-care system is the number one way that American children end up in the trafficking industry. Consider opening your home, your heart, to care for the Fatherless.
Perhaps you believe that just because you cannot end the problem of injustice by yourself, your efforts are worthless. This is one of Satan’s greatest lies, and everyday justice chooses to believe just the opposite:
Our daily choices end up defining our lives.
So, consider the effect your everyday choices can have in changing lives. Choose everyday justice and let your love for justice come from your love for Jesus.
Brianna Copeland delivered a version of this article at the 2017 Go Conference. Watch now>>