There is a lot of darkness in the world, but Jesus calls us to be the light of the world. At the 2019 Passion Conference, the founder of International Justice Mission, Gary Haugen explained where today’s christians fit into that call and how we can use our light to manifest God’s love in the darkness.
You can be a part of shining a light in the darkness, by participating in the End It Movement whose purpose is to shine a light on slavery and human trafficking.
Today, there are more than 40 million slaves globally, that’s more than ever before in human history. Slavery is a multibillion dollar industry generating $150 billion annually. Slave owners prey on the poor and weak as their victims. This means that 1 in 4 people enslaved are children, and nearly 70% is female. Slavery is a global problem, but also an American problem, an estimated 403,000 people in the U.S. live in slavery.
Watch the full talk with Gary Haugen and David Makara from session 3 of Passion 2019 here.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
Here’s the thing that Jesus said to you, “You are the light of the world.”
Now we know from Scripture that Jesus is called the Light of the world, but on the Sermon on the Mount He turns around and speaks to His followers, to you and to me, and He says, “You are the light of the world.” And then He goes on to say, “Let your light so shine among others that they will see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in heaven.”
Behold. This is God’s plan for bringing glory to Himself in the world. It’s to raise up sons and daughters of light who show the world what His goodness look like.
Now obviously, God doesn’t need to do this, right? He could directly show His love and His goodness to the world all by Himself. But look. Look at the plan, behold this. Almighty God has decided instead to show His goodness to the world through you and through me.
And the stakes of this decision by God are super high. Why? Because there is so much darkness in the world.
Just today, more than 20,000 kids are going to die just because their parents are too poor to keep them alive. Just today.
40,000 people on average today in our world will be forced to flee out of their homes, leave their homes, because of violence and persecution. That’s the number of everybody gathered at Passion today, that’s the number in our world who are going to become refugees and displaced people today. And there’ll be another 40,000 again tomorrow and then the next.
There are 100,000 children in America who right now are in the midst of a dangerous and scary foster care system and they are totally ready for adoption, but there’s no family that will take them.
You know this because Louie was speaking of it last night. That just over the last decade suicides of young people – that is, people who are feeling in such despair, such loneliness, such darkness that they are ready to end their life – this has risen in the last 10 years by 70%. In sociology, there is no statistic like that in our history.
And in a world of such darkness, of such suffering and hurt, what is God’s plan for making it believable that He is a good God? It turns out that you are that plan. And that God doesn’t have another plan.
You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine among others that they will see your good works and then give glory to your Father Who is in heaven.
Now honestly for me, sometimes this just feels like, well God came up with a terrible plan, right? But I can’t be unclear about what it is that Jesus said is the plan.
And if we can just behold this for a moment, what I think that God wants us to see is how seriously He takes your existence. If you got up this morning, like, wondering whether or not your life matters, here are the words of Jesus: that you’re the light of the world. The Maker of the universe had decided, He’s decided this. To put His reputation on the line in the world today on whether or not His children manifest His love and goodness in the world.
But honestly, again if you’re like me, you feel like, well that’s overwhelming. I’m not sure I want that job. I thought we weren’t supposed to be anxious and everything. I mean. And now you want me to be the light of the world.
And this is exactly the way our spiritual adversary would like us to feel. He’d like us to feel totally overwhelmed by the darkness in the world and overwhelmed by how unqualified we are for this job. And he wants us to feel this way because he wants to feel like it’s our job to drive out all the darkness in the world, and it’s not. It’s God’s job. And He’s awesome. And He’s going to do it.
What’s your job and what’s my job? It’s a doable job and it’s a simple job. It is just to take our little light into the darkness so that God can gather it up and build a bonfire. This is what God does. He builds bonfires from just little, teeny lights.
Twenty-two years ago – it’s exactly the same year that Passion conferences started – some friends and I had a dream about trying to bring our little, flickering light of love and hope to victims of violent abuse in our world who were very, very poor. And we called it, International Justice Mission. IJM. And we started out in this little closet in my home. This is the first global headquarters of International Justice Mission. And then in a short time we exploded to a staff of two and three interns.
And one by one, we started taking just individual cases of very poor people suffering from horrific, violent abuse. A little girl sold into a brothel by sex traffickers. Maybe a widow who’s been run out of her home in Africa by some men with machetes. Or maybe a family who’s been sold into slavery in a brick factory. Or maybe some abandoned girl who’s been horrifically raped in a slum. Or maybe some young dad who’s being tortured by the police who are just trying to steal money from him.
We started to take on these cases, just one-by-one. And honestly, at the beginning, for every case where we saw light prevail, honestly, there were 10 or 20 where the darkness beat us. But we just didn’t go away.
And a few months ago, Shelley and Louie joined us as IJM gathered together, all 1,000 now of IJM staff around the world. Lawyers and criminal investigators and social workers. We gathered them from all over the four corners of the world in one place to just worship and thank God because He’d taken our little lights and He’d driven out the darkness for more than 20 years. And He didn’t do it just once or twice. He’s done it more than 47,000 times.
Turns out you just bring your little light and God builds a bonfire.
International Justice Mission is a coalition partner of End It, a group of 16 organizations working together to raise awareness and do the work of ending modern day slavery. Join us on on Feb. 7th, 2019 as we ask the world to draw a red x on their hand or wear a piece of End It, movement clothing, take a selfie, and post it using #enditmovement. Raise your voice to help us share this important message of freedom. Learn more at enditmovement.com.
Find out more about International Justice Mission.
For more information about Passion, visit PassionConferences.com.