By Taylor Cruse
In January 2015, with the help of a few other students and the leadership of Logsdon Seminary, we were able to launch the Logsdon Freedom Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to help the Logsdon community become aware of the injustice in our world and to engage practically in the calling to act justly. Moreover, our goal is to help each other engage in these social justice issues in our local community and places of ministry.
Our focus issue for 2015 is human trafficking. Recently, as part of that endeavor, a group came together to watch a documentary film called Not My Life. Due to the length of this blog entry, I cannot go into great detail about the film, but please Google it and consider renting it on Amazon.
Leading up to the film showing, I tried to remind our group of the calling in Micah 6:8: “…And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.” I did this because I find so many seminary students, ministers and lay-people who realize there are injustices in our world like human trafficking. It bothers them, yet they ask the question, “What can I do?” Many times, they do not ask this question in a way that could lead to genuine critical thinking on how we can be the hands and feet of God in this issue. It is often asked out of apathy.
In other words, the question could be re-phrased: “This problem is so great, what can I really do that would actually make a difference?” The problem with this thinking though is the calling to act justly is not meant to be contingent upon results or even our understanding of success. It is as if we have forgotten the two other commandments in Micah 6:8—to love kindness and to walk humbly. Our pursuit of justice must require love and humility. I must place emphasis on humility, because at the heart of the apathy I see is pride. Many times, we believe our service should lead to something tangible, a result that we can visually see. The truth is that we will unlikely be on the front lines of an issue like human trafficking.
You will not see many churches on raids to free the captives. So how then do we set the captives free?
I would like to offer some suggestions to this question. First, we cannot ask the question “What can I do?” until we have come to terms with all of Micah 6:8 and realize the power promised by Christ through the Holy Spirit. Then we can then ask this question, because we are now posing it out of an authentic desire to discover what we can do to pursue justice in this area. Second, we need to become aware of the issue. Our first semester at the Logsdon Freedom Initiative was almost a dud. At the surface, nothing concrete was done. It was, however, in that semester that I and some others were able to begin asking the question and personally research the issue. Third, help others become aware of the issue. Today, many individuals like to think raising awareness is not enough—and maybe it is not—but that doesn’t make it any less necessary. A great way to raise awareness on this particular issue is by watching the film mentioned above and, in turn, showing it to friends, family, peers and congregants. Notmylife.org has several great ways of purchasing the film for showing it in such settings. Fourth, allow the awareness to move you to practical steps. As a group, we are posting National Human Trafficking Center hotline fliers around the city in key areas and hosting a discussion forum on human trafficking this November. There are many other options as well that may work for you in your community.
Lastly: be a social, economic, political and spiritual advocate from now on. We must not neglect the need to be a spiritual advocate, and this means actively engaging in prayer. Set up prayer groups or a prayer email. Just pray for the release and freedom from both spiritual and physical bondage (Acts 16 is a story about a woman in both). Meanwhile, be mindful in your prayers for the oppressors.
I would be delighted to share with you all more in depth about ways you can be involved in walking humbly, loving kindness and acting justly in this specific area, and I hope that the structure indicated above can apply to your work around other areas of advocacy as well. Next semester, we will turn our primary attention to the issue of international religious freedom and will follow similar guidelines.
Lastly, I would like to end with a quote from which I received inspiration for this blog: “Hope is those who do not turn away, who do not forget, those who see what is happening in the world and say that life is my life, that child is my child. We are all members of the human family and it is time to come home.” – Not My Life, directed by Robert Bilheimer and Richard Young (Worldwide Documentaries, 2011).
Taylor Cruse is a second-year MDiv student at Logsdon Seminary in Abilene, Texas. There, he founded the Logsdon Freedom Initiative and currently serves as Coordinator for Community Life & Outreach. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Religion with an emphasis on Missions from East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas.