International Justice Mission celebrates 15 years fighting oppression – not for puppies, but for people

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I wanted to share a non-animal story with you today, because it’s so important to me – and if you’re the compassionate reader I think you are, it will be important to you, too.

This year, International Justice Mission celebrates 15 years of seeking justice around the world on behalf of the oppressed, the abused and the forgotten. Their team not only rescues people from oppression and slavery, but uses the legal systems in their countries to bring the perpetrators to justice.

This is on my mind today because, as of late, I’ve been inundated with puppy mill stories, pleas for help with abandoned dogs, and other cries for help in the animal world. Baby seals. Feral cats. Stranded dolphins.

Which, of course, got me thinking. And you know that will either generate an interesting discussion or a boatload of hate mail – or both.

Why do you think that in America we tend to get behind animal welfare causes but don’t necessarily get as indignant about say, sexual slavery? I mean, just here in Rochester, NY in the last year we’ve had several cases of people arrested for engaging in sexual slavery. Literally, oppressing young girls - children - and forcing them into prostitution. The culprits made a headline and were gone the next day.

But a couple in Gorham wants to open a puppy mill, and the nation gets in an uproar that lasts weeks. Why do you think that is? What is it about the puppies that incites people to action, while sexual slavery doesn’t?

These are just things I think about, not to judge but to wonder why things are the way they are and then ask myself how I fit into God’s plan for it all. 

My friend Sam cautioned me a while ago to be careful not to engage in what’s called “Oppression Olympics”, where people pit their causes against each other to see who has the saddest or most tragic story. That is definitely not my intention at all. I think God calls all of us to different causes and issues, and we have to be obedient to follow His leading. Animal abuse is a horrible thing – and often a precursor to the abuse of humans – and both are moral issues that people of compassion can’t ignore.

But I wonder what the world would be like if, rather than only protesting puppy mills, we shed that same harsh, public light on those who engage in sexual slavery … or spent time, effort and dollars to reach out to those in desperate poverty …

Or maybe it’s all tied together … maybe activism in one area spills over to benefit another? Maybe people who have never considered standing up for a cause start with puppies and in a few years end up rescuing girls from brothels in Cambodia?

Or maybe it’s on a smaller but no less important scale – maybe animal welfare advocates, for instance, consciously buy products that are ‘fair trade’, thus helping to engage in the fair and humane treatment of workers on the other side of the world?

Again, this is just stuff I think about, and the IJM 15th anniversary video, it got me thinking more. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how your compassion for animals does – or doesn’t – spill over to compassion for humans.

If you’d like to learn more about International Justice Mission, visit their website.

And here are some other justice organizations that I’m either involved with or know people who are:

  • Compassion International (We have for years and years sponsored children in Columbia, India and Uganda; our modest monthly financial support provides food, medical care, education, and more to a child living in financial and spiritual poverty. If you’re looking for a fabulous way to not only reach out to the oppressed in Jesus’ name but make the world a little smaller by connecting with a child on the other side of the globe, this is one way to do it. Be warned: the life you change may be your own.)
  • Not For Sale -  a modern abolitionist movement to end human trafficking around the world.
  • Traffick911 - a Texas-based, modern abolitionist movement to end human trafficking in the U.S. Yes, in the U.S. If that surprises you … visit their website.


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