Esther Swaffield
You are free...

The first time God speaks directly to humanity in Genesis 2:16, when the stage of creation has been set, He begins with the words, “You are free…” Free to experience the goodness of love, because our Maker loves us. Free to enjoy the wonder of creation. Free, because that is how we were created to be.

The call to freedom resounds throughout scripture: it surfaces again and again as the mission of God in the world unfolds. Although there is a spiritual dynamic to this freedom (we can be free to “throw off the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1)), there is a very real call to the physical reality of freedom. Jesus never ignored people’s physical conditions – just look at the miracles he performed!

Today, there are more people than ever who are not free. More than 45 million people are trapped in slavery around the world – more than any other point in history, even during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Slavery is stealing the freedom of millions of children and families around the world who are suffering horrific forms of abuse and are trapped, unable to escape. For these sons and daughters of the living God, the freedom intended at the dawn of creation seems very far away.

Mien’s story

Mien was only 14 when she was sold to a brothel in Svay Pak, Cambodia. Night after night, Mien was purchased by sex tourists wanting to abuse her, because they knew they could find and exploit young and vulnerable girls like her. Mien was trapped – freedom was a world away.

After much investigation, and with the local police, IJM (International Justice Mission) rescued 37 girls from the brothel where Mien was being held captive – the youngest just six years old. But Mien was not one of those girls. Having been told to fear the police, Mien hid from IJM that night.

In the following months, Mien was again sold, again to be exploited. And again, IJM began to gather evidence and work with the police to conduct a rescue. This time, eight children were found, including Mien.

Finally, Mien was free. Since then, the five pimps and traffickers responsible for Mien’s abuse have been convicted for human trafficking. And Mien has embraced her freedom, completing a tailoring course, setting up her own business, getting married and starting a family. Incredibly, the brothel where Mien was once abused is now an aftercare home for other girls like her, where Mien helps bring hope to others who are beginning their own journeys into freedom.

God does not ignore those who are suffering. He has a plan to restore freedom to others, and that plan is us, His church.

Supporters of IJM around the world have one thing in common: they are actively responding to God’s call to seek justice and bring freedom. We are the largest anti-slavery organisation in the world and, together, with the help of our supporters, we are making freedom from slavery a reality. To date, IJM has helped to bring freedom to more than 28,000 children and families across the world.

By pursuing justice and praying relentlessly, we are proving that freedom from slavery is possible: we believe that every slave who has had their liberty stolen, every woman who has been trapped in a brothel, every child who has been abused, will one day here those beautiful three words that speak of God’s restoration, kindness and love:

“You are free.”

Our fight is fuelled by the prayers of individuals who God is using to end slavery. Be part of the movement. Sign up to become a prayer partner and find how to get involved at IJMUK.org.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by guest contributors are those of the author. Although broadly in keeping with the objectives of Jubilee+, the views and opinions of the guest do not necessarily represent those of the Jubilee+ team and directors and/or other contributors to this site.

Esther oversees the work of IJM in the north of England, based in beautiful Durham. She works to equip the Church to encounter God’s heart for justice, passionately pray for justice and see works of justice spread across nations! If you would like to find out more, please email: esther.swaffield@ijmuk.org – she would love to chat to you.