IJM Justice Series (Part Two)


The Redemptive Chain

Jim Martin

This blog is part of a special series released jointly between Baptist 21 and International Justice Mission (IJM). May these posts serve as an encouragement to you and your congregant as you deepen your commitment to ending slavery.

There is nothing that lies beyond the redemptive reach of God.

Let that wash over you. This profound and excellent news lies at the very core of a gospel-centric view of our world. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Not a bad decision, an addiction, a childhood wound. No matter what we’ve done, or what has been done to us, the loving, redemptive grace of our Father awaits.

Most of us, in retrospect, can see a long redemptive chain of events that led us to surrender to the transforming love of God. We often tell the story of how those last few links of the chain were formed.

Because of these stories, many of us have invested the very best of what we have to offer: teaching, pastoring, leading, mentoring, loving people in a way that seeks to remove every possible barrier to the formation of the next redemptive link in someone else’s story.

And by God’s grace, many of us have had the great privilege of watching the few remaining barriers dissolve as friends, family members, and congregants have surrendered to the transforming love of Christ. And the chain of redemptive love and restored relationships is completed once again.

*Rosie is a pseudonym

But what about Rosie?* She is hidden inside a small, overheated room somewhere in the Philippines. Under the cover of darkness and shame, her mother requires Rosie and her older sisters to perform live “shows” in front of a webcam while pedophiles in other parts of the world pay money to direct the abuse. Pedophiles see Rosie. They see her sisters.

But does the church see her?

Do they know she’s only 10 years old? That her favorite food is spaghetti? That she loves volleyball and wants to learn to play the guitar? That she already desires a relationship with God?

There is nothing that lies beyond the redemptive reach of God.

It is this gospel-centric truth that compels my IJM colleagues in the Philippines (and all over the world) to look for, and to find children like Rosie. This truth sustains their work even when it gets hard—even when the investigation finally leads to an IP address, only to discover that the address points not to one computer, but to a whole teeming neighborhood. It compels them to develop relationships with local police, to offer training to innumerable justice system officials. It compels them to demand that action be taken, that laws be enforced. It compels them to see Rosie.

And it continues to compel them until the day that IJM staff and local police resolutely show up at Rosie’s door as the very first link in the redemptive chain. They get to deliver the very good news that Rosie and her sisters are now free from this abuse. They get to deliver the girls to a place of safety where they can begin to heal, to grow, to be loved. They make the prophetic redemptive statement that those who perpetrate these crimes will be held to account.

Rosie’s rescue took place roughly a year ago. Today she is beginning to thrive. She wants to finish sixth grade at the top of her class, and she wants to deepen her relationship with God. When asked, she says:

Yes, I have a relationship with Jesus. Of all the people that love me, God is the one who loves me most.

There is nothing that lies beyond the redemptive reach of God.

At IJM we see ourselves as the first link in this redemptive chain—rescuing the oppressed, defending the orphan, pleading for the widow (Is. 1:17). And over the last 20 years, it has been our joy to partner with courageous local churches in this gospel endeavor.

Let’s break the chains of oppression by building links in the chain of redemption.

There is nothing that lies beyond the redemptive reach of God.

As a next step, please consider hosting a Freedom Sunday at your church.

The IJM team can provide lots of resources and coaching to create a Sunday worship experience to get your church thinking about the entire length of the redemptive chain.

Jim Martin serves as the Vice President of Spiritual Formation at International Justice Mission. For further reading on how churches can engage along the entire length of the redemptive chain see Jim’s book, The Just Church, Becoming a risk-taking, justice-seeking, disciple-making congregation. (Tyndale 2012)