The Power of The Global Church
by Melissa Russell
Melissa is the Chief Advancement Officer at IJM, leading the teams responsible for IJM’s constituent, government and institutional partnerships. She drives the core strategies and engagements that fuel IJM’s growth around the globe.
My own personal “Freedom Sunday” happened in 2006 when my pastor in Austin, TX preached on God‘s love of justice from Isaiah 58 and Matthew 23. It was the first time I heard how important justice was to God and what everyday injustice looked like for billions of people around the world (slavery, rampant sexual assault, violent abuse of widows and orphans). I’ll never forget the line that changed my life forever. At the end of the sermon he said: “If you want to see what God is doing about injustice in the world, you should visit IJM.org.”
It was one of those moments where the Holy Spirit reached my soul through His word, showed me a glimpse of the extremely violent realities outside of my daily experience, and gave me a place to get involved to make a difference. My first act of fighting injustice was a $10 gift through IJM’s website.
In the 14 years since becoming involved with IJM, I have come to understand that acts of injustice are decisions people make on stewarding the power God has given them. We all have a unique circle of power, and we get to choose how we use that power for good – or for evil. People who enslave children use the power God has gifted them for their own personal gain. They use their financial power to purchase other people, they use their physical power to intimidate vulnerable children into places of extreme violence, and they use their political connections to protect themselves from getting in trouble with the law.
But human traffickers are not the only people with power.
As believers, we get to choose how we use the power God has given uniquely to us to further His Kingdom. This is what Freedom Sunday is all about—God’s call for justice and the stewardship of our personal power to help bring justice into reality.
While my own introduction to God’s call for justice was a standalone sermon, Freedom Sunday is now a global movement of thousands of churches all around the world that reflect the simplicity of how God works in the fight against injustice: the preaching of scripture, Christians who understand the realities of injustice in the world today, and tangible ways individual people can make a real difference. The church in Ghana, India and the Dominican Republic are standing alongside churches in Atlanta, London, Sydney, and all over the world.
And just like the human trafficker, we all have unique political, financial and spiritual power we can wield—only we will use it to get people out of slavery and oppression.
In developing nations and advanced economies, our circles of influence and calls to action will look different, but we will all say the same thing at the same time: God cares about injustice, thus we do too. This year’s Freedom Sunday in on September 23rd, and I invite you to be a part of it. I can honestly say that the people with the most power to impact the fight for justice are individuals outside our organization. They are people with circles of influence at their church, in their families, in their work. I have heroes who are stay-at-home moms in Georgia, hedge fund managers in New York, oil wildcatters in Texas, church pastors in Ghana and politicians in Sydney—all believing the scripture that God cares deeply about the poor and oppressed. All recognizing the power God has given uniquely to them, and each one choosing to use that power to fight slavery and injustice to the glory of God.
I hope you’ll join in their ranks and use your power to end slavery.