From Apathy to Empathy…

People still tell me how proud they are of me for making the decision to join IJM. They call me courageous. But the truth is, I’m keenly aware that I was apathetic for years. I knew peripherally about IJM’s work for almost 3 years before I did anything. And today, there are 27 million slaves in the world. I now struggle with why (despite being a compassionate person) I found it okay to do nothing.

Desensitized?

When I first learned about IJM’s work a few years ago, I thought to myself “wow—I didn’t know that sex trafficking and slavery still exist—how incredible that an organization is focused there”, but I failed to personalize it and went on with my life. Years later in May 2009, as I began feeling led to IJM, I felt more connected to its mission and soon wanted to be part of it. But it wasn’t until training week at IJM that the work became deeply personal to me. It was only after seeing the undercover footage with my own eyes and hearing the stories of victims that my heart really broke for the victims. My eyes were finally opened to the magnitude of the problem and the harsh reality of the injustice that exists beyond what I’m exposed to as I live the “American Dream”.

Why wasn’t it “real” to me before? I couldn’t help but wonder if I was somehow desensitized over my 32 years on this earth. After all, we see violent crimes (even rape) take place on television, so perhaps when we hear that stuff actually exists, we just tuck it safely into the “television” box (otherwise known as the ‘it’s not real” box). Also, I thought about how wounds from earlier in my life may have contributed to my apathy–I was “numb” in so many places until very recently. Then I wondered about everyone else out there and why they weren’t joining the fight. Do they just not know? Do they not care?  Is it too horrific to think about, so easier to ignore? I’m convinced that they just don’t know and those that do know (like me three years ago) don’t know the severity of the problem or how to help. So I’m committed to raising awareness and helping people understand that there are easy ways they can help—and that there help can make a difference—it can save lives.

Freedom?

Today (Sat) I slept in until 10:30. Yep—10:30. It was glorious! I then went to the gym and watched the movie “Step Up” while I did laundry and got ready. I then met my friend Adam and after driving around for 30 minutes trying to decide which of the ~25 restaurants we’d have lunch at, we sat down for a meal. Appetizers, drinks, the works…followed by lattes at a cool French bistro across the street. Adam went on to meet friends at a sporting event and I went home to relax in the comfort of my temporary apartment in Arlington. Every day I get to do whatever I want. I go where I want to go. Eat what I want to eat. Spend money as I see fit. I’M FREE. But as I write this I’m reminded that right this moment, a young girl somewhere is likely being sold or tricked into a brothel and soon will be forced to “entertain” customers, perhaps while under the influence of drugs. Somewhere in the world, someone was just tricked into a small loan (likely less than $20) that will leave them (and in some cases, their descendents for generations) indebted to slave owners. These people are NOT FREE.  I thought I knew my Bible pretty well but recently learned that there are over 2,000 verses that discuss God’s heart for the poor and the oppressed. He calls us to rise up against injustice in the world. If just 10% of Americans made the issue of ending modern day slavery a priority, we’d have an advocate for each of the 27 million slaves in the world today. I’m convinced that freedom is possible for each of them. (go big or go home!) And IJM’s success stories are proof that hope is not futile.

Working like lives depend on it…

Pedophiles that can violate a child in a brothel for less than $50. Slave owners that can acquire a child slave for ~$40.  “Is this real?” I thought. “I have a young half-sister about the age of many of these victims. I’m not okay with this.” It’s not okay with the generous people that support our work, nor is it okay with my teammates at IJM either. There is an inspiring level of diligence, professionalism and urgency in everything my colleagues at IJM undertake. The victims’ faces are etched on their hearts and serve as a constant reminder that there are real people relying on us to be excellent at what we do. Our work demands a high level of detail orientation, precision, thoughtfulness and compassion. Private investigators that risk their lives to uncover the injustice…lawyers giving their “all” to bring perpetrators to justice and protect the rights of victims… …aftercare workers devoting their days to restoring the lives of rescued victims…individuals training law enforcement in developing countries to drive structural transformation…fearless interns and fellows that move across the world to help in field offices…teams in headquarters working on advocacy, education, development and operational functions. No matter what role they are serving in, everyone at IJM is keenly aware that our constituents are counting on us to tell the story accurately, our donors are counting on us to be good stewards of their resources and the victims are counting on us to forward a movement that brings them closer to freedom.

My colleagues inspire me, as do the stories of the victims restored to freedom. I’m so thankful I’ve been led to International Justice Mission. I pray for the courage, wisdom and skills to help all compassionate people see the real picture and join the fight. I pray (and believe) that together we can make a difference.

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~ by amylucia on October 4, 2009.

4 Responses to “From Apathy to Empathy…”

  1. You’re inspiring us out of our own apathy Amy…thank you for that.

  2. Love the post, Amy. We are incredibly privileged to be a part of this work and to know God in this way…

  3. so excited. so excited. thanks for that link – looking forward to hosting an IJM event. this all is lining up exactly with things the Lord is teaching me right now. for a season i think he relinquished me from my worldly burdens to see the burdens within my own home. now he is making my heart heavy again for concerns outside our door and i am aware of that weight, am glad for it, and also glad i have jesus to carry it for me b/c it is truely sad and heavy. this world is a dark place! BUT a great light has shined into the darkness in Christ and he is doing new things, redeeming all that has been lost. praise him!

  4. It’s so amazing what IJM does. I am so incredibly humbled reading your story about the horrible sin that IJM is trying to break. God has led you to do a great work for an awesome organization. I am so proud of you and what you are doing. It is truly inspiring. You are storing up treasures in heaven and will be blessed ten fold. Thank you for sharing this with me and the inspiration to support IJM and their cause. Many blessings to you and all those who work with you.

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