I’m on a role with three-letter acronym titles (FYI, VOM, now IJM). 🙂
I feel kinda bad about this…. my last post was all about persecution and human rights violations, plus I’ve got another page totally dedicated to the nations, yet, in all of this, I haven’t mentioned the International Justice Mission (IJM) once.
This all hit me yesterday as I was talking with Sam Young after church, and he mentioned reading my blog regularly (thanks, Sam! :)). . . . How does all that connect, you ask? Well, Sam WORKS for IJM today, and in my early years as a youth leader, he was one of the best student leaders — and now a young man who I greatly esteem. Not only that, last month, there was a huge initiative at Michigan State University called the “Price of Life” that partnered with IJM to expose the campus to the reality of human trafficking — an initiative that I helped (in a small way) sponsor! It was talking to Sam, about IJM, the initiative, and a passing reference to my blog, that made it hit me: why haven’t I said anything about IJM?!?!
What is IJM?
I could hardly do them justice, but I will try. You will be best served to go to their website and see for yourself. Thier mission, from the website:
IJM exists to protect people from violent forms of injustice by securing rescue and restoration for victims and accountability for perpetrators, ensuring that public justice systems work for the poor.
I would describe it like this (in my VERY limited knowledge of them). IJM is a non-profit social justice organization, working all over the world to free people from unjustices and human rights violations. They work with different national and international governments to bring criminals to just and bring an end to crimes that are many-times ignored in third-world regions (one of the biggest problems: child sex slavery). The things they see and the stories they tell will 1.) turn your stomach 2.) make you wish you never heard them 3.) motivate you to do SOMETHING to change the situation. I can tell you, I have had all three reactions . . . and still do.
IJM is an amazing organization. They’ve only been around 10 years, but have gained a huge amount of respect, money, and power because what they are doing is honest, excellent in every way, and willing to take lots of (very necessary) risks. Sad to say (but true), one of the most impressive things about IJM, is that although they are a faith-based organization, they don’t use heart wrenching pleas for money, nor do they operate on a shoestring, barely-getting-by budget. Their mentality is: fight for justice, and do it right; no cutting corners or playing “unfair” with people’s heart strings. I love it.
About Sam Young.
I have to write this part, and not just because he may read it :). Many of you don’t know him, but he’s the kind of guy that you WANT to know. Sam grew up in a big family (6 kids), went to church all his life (Dad was/is an elder in the church), played lots of sports in high school (noteably, co-captain of the football team), and was well-liked by everyone. When he graduated, he attended the University of Michigan and recieved his degree in Criminal Justice. He also got married soon after graduation.
So, here’s a guy, who, in most people’s opinions has everything going for him. Raised in a good home (not without it’s own problems, though), earned a degree from one of the highest ranking Universities, well-liked and talented. What does a guy like that do, as he looks ahead at life, and thinks “how can I really make a difference? how can I best use my life right now to impact the world?”. He goes to work for IJM!! How awesome is that?! And, it’s not like they gave him some prestigious position in the organization. No, he so believes in justice — the real kind (not some of the shady things that go down in other areas of the legel arena) — that he’s willing to move himself and his new wife and start a new life in Washington, D.C. (far away from both families), with a job at the lower end of the totem pole. . . because he believes, IT’S WORTH IT. and, I AGREE! I give my standing ovation to Sam today! 🙂
More thoughts on why I love this guy . . though he was raised in the church, the son of an Elder, he never seemed to get “jaded” with the whole “church” thing. He was always the “perfect” kid in the youth group (and not just because he wanted to be the youth pastor’s pet; he was the real deal!). If I got discouraged about other people or what was happening in the ministry, I always knew thinking about Sam and his pure heart for God and love for people would encourage me to keep going. 🙂 He never tried to be fake, but was always genuinely interested in others. He was popular in school and probably could have dated almost any girl, but chose not to waste too much emotional energy on relationships until he felt he was ready to invest in someone special (which didn’t happen until college). He was a blessing to me because he was always respectful toward me and always seemed to have a good attitude. He went on to college, and instead of looking to “be free” and live crazy, being out from the watchful eyes of his parents, he continued on the path of integrity, becoming a leader on campus, persuing the best in every area of his life. Today, I believe he’s very happy. He’s reaping the rewards of living a life of faith and purpose. I would guess that he feels fulfilled, knowing that his life is making a difference, and that every choice along the way was worth it. And, he’s only just begun!
Here’s to you, Sam! I love you!