IJM Justice Series (Part Six)

The New Activist

by Eddie Kaufholz

This week’s special guest writer is Eddie Kaufholz. Eddie is the host of The New Activist, a podcast that features conversations with activists and leaders tackling some of the world’s biggest humanitarian issues from the frontlines of the war against injustice. In addition, Eddie is on The RELEVANT Podcast and a Church Mobilization Director for IJM.

I love thinking back to those moments in life. You know what moments I’m talking about, the moments where, in a flash, everything changed. Maybe it was the first time you locked eyes with your future spouse, or maybe it was the first time you prayed earnestly to God. Good or bad, we’ve all had those defining flashes. Here are two of my most recent ones:

The First Moment

Almost five years ago, when I was a church pastor, invited a guest speaker to come from an organization named, you guessed it, IJM. And to be honest, I wasn’t involved with IJM and – to be even more honest – I didn’t know slavery still existed in the world.

So the speaker came, I introduced him at the services, and somewhere around the fourth service I actually heard what he was saying. His quotes began to fall on me like a hammer to an anvil:

“There are over 40 million slaves in the world today.”

“IJM knows how to end slavery and we’re seeing people rescued every day.”

“In a very dark world God is looking at you and asking you to be a light.”

That was the moment for me. That was the moment when the floor dropped out of the life that I was living (and not planning on changing, by the way) and pushed me to leverage anything I could for little girls in brothels and little boys trapped on a fishing lake.

After that sermon, I began volunteering with IJM, became a Freedom Partner, and ultimately left the pulpit to serve the church as part of the IJM staff.

It was two years later, as a part of that staff, that the second moment happened.

The Second Moment

During a routine meeting, someone on my IJM Church team posed the following question: Are there segments of the U.S. church that don’t know about slavery or the work of IJM – and need to? It was a simple enough question, but for me it was the second moment.

The people that came to my mind and heart were those who may have felt burned or distant from the church, but still very much loved Jesus – who also happens to love the church. My heart longed to find those people, the ones that we may not see on Sunday morning anymore, and tell them about the work of IJM. But moreover, I wanted to tell them about the work of justice that the church is doing so they could see what is real and true – that the church is thebride of Christ and is relevant, vital, and oh-so-worth diving back into.

Enter, The New Activist.

I once heard a pastor say that “church has a way of bubbling to the surface.” By this he meant that even those who love Jesus but have run from the church still seem to find ways to get an á la carte (albeit watered down) version of church. They’ll meet at local coffee shops to have a Bible study with friends, they’ll increasingly attend corporate worship events like a Hillsong concert, or they’ll listen to podcasts to get their weekly dose of teaching.  

This is why IJM created a podcast, and this is why I host it. Because I know that if someone who isn’t in church on Sunday happens to put on our show while they ride the subway – they’ll be reminded of what it means to be the church. That is, the greatest agent of change in the world and for the world, for all generations.

And so every week on the show I talk to someone who is doing the work of justice whether it’s with IJM, caring for refugees, working towards racial reconciliation, or any of the other countless ways that the church is leading the justice movement. And every week, I implore listeners to get out there and get involved. And it is this “getting involved” that is the secret sauce of The New Activist podcast.

Because it is being the hands and feet of Jesus in the world that reminds us who we are.

We are the church, sent to the far corners of the world to show people just how much God cares for this entire, messy, confusing, globe.

And if someone can listen to a podcast and be reminded of that, or if someone can sit in your church one Sunday in September and hear about the work of IJM for the first time, we can facilitate moments. Moments where people know, in their soul, that God has invited them to be a part of the church to change the world.

I hope that today you have a moment. A moment that compels you to dig into the deepest corners of the church and go after the lost sheep. Maybe you’re doing sermon prep, maybe you’re planning the missions week, or maybe you’re editing a podcast. No matter the outlet, the result is still the same – that entirety of the body is working together.  May God richly bless our labors.