What happens when you bring Christ's love into dark places? International Justice Mission's President, Gary Haugen, sheds some light on India's culture and the human trafficking so prominent there.
What happens when you bring Christ's love into dark places? International Justice Mission's President, Gary Haugen, sheds some light on India's culture and the human trafficking so prominent there.
Gary: Here’s the analogy. Sometimes we think if we are really going to protect our kids from the world we’re going to put them in a cul-de-sac where they’re going to be safe. But the truth is what protects our kids is the character of Christ built within them.
The way that actually gets fashioned is by going into the needy fallen world and bringing the love and truth of Christ and becoming a strong, courageous follower of Jesus. This is what the world needs and this is what we most deeply want for our children.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, November 12th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How do we respond to the reality of injustice in our world? Sometimes we respond with our lives. We’ll talk more about that today.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Dennis: Bob, have I told you that I really love talking to our listeners? I love this radio broadcast. This is really fun because we get a chance to bring some of the finest scholars, theologians, courageous men and women who are doing the deeds of God around the world and it’s just fun to say “let me just take your hand in mine and put it in the hand of a great warrior for Christ” and then watch what happens.
Let me introduce our guest. I want to tell you something that happened. In fact, what I’m going to do is let our guest, Gary Haugen, tell what happened. Gary, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Gary: Great to be with you.
Dennis: Gary is the CEO and President of International Justice Mission. He lives in Washington, D.C, has four children, and he and his wife Jan have been married now for how many years?
Gary: Almost twenty years.
Dennis: I’m glad you remembered. That’s good. It shows a sensitive man there. Back in 2005 you were on our broadcast.
Dennis: Do you already know where I’m going with this? You were preaching about what you were doing to go to a Cambodian village and rescue little girls in a brothel. And there was an attorney by the name of Phillip and his wife, Lacey, who happened to be listening to the broadcast that day. Share with our listeners what happened.
Gary: Well, the earth shook in certain ways as a result of that, both for this family but also for hundreds of men, women and children who were slaves in India. But none of them knew how this would be played out.
It’s true. Phillip had come home to Lacey with this story about a friend who had gone to India with International Justice Mission and had seen what was happening to children held in slavery and the way lawyers were able to help that problem out. Phillip was a very prosperous lawyer with a major firm there in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area and was sharing with Lacey with some excitement about this. They are earnest believers and were always engaged with God’s sort of calling on their lives but felt pretty well settled in their life in Chattanooga.
The next day we were on FamilyLife Today and she was there folding laundry. They had four kids at the time. Suddenly she hears me beginning to chat with you about this very work in India, of setting people free from slavery, She said she just slumped down to the floor of the basement there where she was folding laundry and just tuned in and started to listen and things began to change in their life.
Dennis: She actually called her husband, didn’t she, at work? Isn’t that right?
Gary: She did and suddenly she realized that there was within her spirit a wrestling that was going to take place because she had this sense, always, that they would be ready to go and do whatever they were called to by God. But her main fear was “was this really right to do with my children?”
As her husband started to get excited with “maybe I could do something more with my legal career. I love what I’m doing. It’s a good living but maybe my legal career could actually set slaves free. Maybe it could actually be a testimony of God’s power and love in the world. But … could we really go to India? Could we really take our children there?”
And she found that a question that you asked about, sort of ”how are we raising our kids?” It begins by asking, in one sense, what am I training my children to go do? Am I and my family being trained and prepared for playing offense or are we just hunkered down playing defense?
Dennis: So you are talking about preparing your child to serve and trying to right things that are wrong.
Gary: Correct, rather than just protecting my children from things that are wrong. Which is our picture of what our family is going to do for the world--hunker down and keeps all our lights sort of burning together so that they stay ablaze or are we going to take that light into the darkness and build the kingdom of God?
And then she realized that not only could this be an opportunity for her and for her husband but it was something that wouldn’t be done as a cost to her children but actually as a way of preparing those children to actually live the way God called them to in the world and that is to live with courage and bravery.
So, in fact, it turned out that they became the directors of our work in Bangalore in India.
Dennis: And he commuted from Chattanooga?
Gary: No. They picked up and moved to India, all four of the young kids who were eight and under and actually had their fifth child in India. They together began a work which then saw the rescue of hundreds of people from slavery.
I think the testimony that Lacey and Phillip give now is not of this God who’s tried to force them to do something that they don’t want to do but a God who invited them into an adventure that was not only the fullness of joy for them but also gave them a pathway to raise their children to be children of courage and love, which is what they wanted in the first place.
Dennis: I have to say materialism is sucking the life out of the Christian community and we don’t realize it. We’re raising a generation of young people who are trying to find ways to connect with a real relationship with God where they get engaged in the things that God cares about and that he’s involved in. This issue is front and center on God’s heart. He has been, from the beginning of time, a God of justice and he cares about people who are having evil done to them.
Gary: For sure. And that’s why the Psalms, for instance, are full of these passionate cries out to the God of justice. And if we are ourselves ever the victim of some unfairness or injustice we want God to be on our side. The problem is when others are the victims of injustice and abuse, are we equally as eager?
And here we have to rediscover the revolutionary nature of what Jesus was talking about in regards to our lives because he did say that when you give up your life, you will gain it. When you lose your life, you actually will be able to gain it.
Many times for our children what we are trying to do is try to protect them from ever have anything go wrong, protect them from any sort of uncertainty or trial. And largely we do that because we are pain-averting parents. We hurt when our kids hurt and so we want to make sure that nothing bad ever happens to them. But if we do that, we actually rob them of the opportunity to actually be formed into followers of Jesus that have courage, that have character.
It is made clear from the Scripture that actually the way we find spiritually maturity and completeness, as James says, is from perseverance, perseverance through trials. Sure I don’t’ want the hurt of having my kids going through difficulties. But the truth is my kids will never develop the kind of character and the kind of relationship with God that I most deeply want them to have unless they do go through periods of difficulty and trial.
That doesn’t mean we should all just look for bad experiences for our kids. What it does mean is that if we send them into the world to do what Jesus did, which was love others in need and to tell the truth, and we send our kids out to do that in a fallen world, they will suffer. They will have experiences of heartache. They will have experiences of risk.
If we send them out into the fallen world to do what Jesus called them to do, they are going to have difficulty. We either prepare them for that or we leave them completely unprepared.
Dennis: To your point, there is a couple here at FamilyLife, and I don’t know what country it was in Africa, but they took their kids to that country and they came back and now they are helping their son recover from Malaria. Now you wouldn’t want your children to have to do that. But on the other hand I think sometimes we live such a scrubbed hands, completely clean from getting dirty life.
I’m reflecting back to some mission trips I took my kids on where we want to China. We went to orphanages that were, I mean, would just break your hearts to see those children and how many there were.
You’re really challenging moms and dads and you’re challenging the children, go near to the plight of the oppressed. You are God’s arms of love. God is a good god and how he addresses the needs of people who are oppressed by evil is he uses us as human beings.
Gary: That’s right. I think sometimes as parents we just misunderstand how it is we truly protect our kids. It’s fascinating. One of the most popular forms of architecture for building residential areas was the cul-de-sac. And this was thought to be really a great way to keep kids safe because you wouldn’t have traffic going through the community and the kids wouldn’t get hit. They could just play in the street and be safe.
Turns out some communities now are making it illegal to actually build cul-de-sacs. Do you know why? Because they found out that most kids, if they are hurt by vehicles, are hurt by vehicles backing up. And that the dangerous places for kids are cul-de-sacs where they are playing in the street and cars are backing up and don’t see kids. So now the danger is so manifest that they actually sometimes have zoning restrictions against cul-de-sacs.
Here’s the analogy. Sometimes we think that if we are really going to protect our kids from the world we’re going to put them in a cul-de-sac where they are going to be safe. But the truth is what protects our kids is the character of Christ built within them.
And the way that actually gets fashioned is by going into the needy, fallen world and bringing the love and truth of Christ and becoming a strong, courageous follower of Jesus. This is what the world needs and this is what we most deeply want for our children.
Dennis: Last time you were with us, Gary, I don’t think it had just occurred, but you had actually invaded, for good, a Cambodia village that was just almost a brothel village and you just recently came back from that same village, right.
Dennis: Tells our listeners, first of all, what you did the first time you went there and what you encountered and then bring us up to date with what you just saw and experienced there.
Gary: There was this little village outside Phnom Penh called Svay Pok which we first started visiting in the year 2000. We had heard rumors that this was a place where there were just hundreds of kids on open sale to foreign pedophiles and sex tourists. At first we thought, we hear those kinds of rumors but they tend to be overblown. This was the first time that we went and even the worst rumors were not conveying the ultimate truth.
This was a whole village with a main street full of brothels. It was nothing but brothels. In it, truly, were available, first in the streets, just hundreds of children on open sale. But in the back rooms of these brothels, like one I entered into, I found a dozen kids between the ages of five and ten years of age, who were on sale to sex tourists and pedophiles.
So this was a whole village that was operating in a business of rape for profit that was protected by horrible violence and was just about the worst cesspool of dark evil I had ever seen. We did actually, with obviously the help of the Cambodian authorities, do a series of operations in that village in 2003 that rescued 37 of the youngest children out and to get them to places of long-term after care. Then we began a program of helping train the local police on how they could actually begin to root out the sex trafficking operation in this village.
Well, I’ve now just come back from a visit that was just earth shattering for me because what I went and saw when I returned to Svay Pok seven years later is there are now no more brothels in those streets. There are no more kids on open sale in the main street of that village. Instead I was going to church in the main street of that village in a raucous worship service with hundreds of local citizens led by a Cambodian pastor.
In fact, one of the former brothels that we did raid is now an outreach center to children. And in fact I had a teenage niece who went and served and ministered to children in Svay Pok and did it in the very place where seven years ago would have been the worst possible place I would have ever thought my niece would be. But instead she is ministering there to children.
This is the body of Christ I think, coming in. First IJM was able to do what it does, which is help the local authorities really establish law and order in this place, basic protection. But then the rest of the body of Christ comes and fills in and brings the light of Christ’s love in so many different ways. It is a spectacular transformation I could never have dreamed of.
It is the scandal of the gospel that Christians would run to the places of darkness to bring light. It is the hero, right, who runs into the burning building that everyone else is running out of? And I think this is the power of Christ’s love. Christ said that perfect love casts out fear.
Whether or not I go into that building or not, if I see a burning building there and I think there are some people inside, do I go in? Should I risk it? I don’t know? I might get hurt. I’m hesitating, right?
Well, let’s says I find out it’s my daughter inside there. Well, my goodness. Perfect love is now casting out all those fears. I am just going into the building. I don’t have any more questions. I don’t have any more hesitations because it’s love that’s propelling me in.
Likewise, I think we manifest the love of Christ in the world, the scandalous love of Christ, when Christians are found running to those places of hurt and darkness where others are running away.
Dennis: Jesus said in Matthew, chapter five, verse13-14, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Gary, I’ve heard you say that God’s got a plan. And we are the plans. Speak to the mom and dad, maybe it’s another Philip and Lacey, listening to the broadcast today. How are we the plan?
Gary: I’ve always had this question in my mind which is--we learn from the Bible that God wants to bring rescue to those who are abused and oppressed. He wants to bring the gospel to those who have never heard it. Well, that’s good but what’s his plan for actually doing that? How does he intend to actually get these good things done on earth? He could, of course, just do them all himself directly.
But it turns out that the way God plans to do these works of goodness, including the work of justice, is to use his people. Now if I was God I might chose another plan. And we might argue with God to say that’s not the greatest plan.
Dennis: There’s probably a more efficient plan, somehow, that God could have thought up. But he didn’t, did he?
Gary: I think so. He loves us so much, though, that he wants to include us in the building of his kingdom in the world. What an extraordinary privilege. He’s not doing this to punish me. He’s not doing this in order to get back at me or for him because he needs me to do this. He’s giving me this gift, this opportunity to say “hey, do you want to enter into the world and have your life actually count and matter?” Not only in the sphere within your family but your family can be a source of transformation in the larger world for much greater purposes.
I think many times we have this frustration or disappointment with our lives because it doesn’t seem to be turning out the way we intended it. It’s smaller. It’s fearful. It’s more petty. That’s because we’ve grabbed onto a lie from the enemy which is “we just need to hunker down and play defense.”
Dennis: And you can’t make a different. You really can’t make a difference.
Gary: Exactly. It’s too big. You know right now there are hundreds of men, women, and children who are not slaves today because Philip and Lacey made a decision that they would leave Chattanooga and go to India and help build a team there that could actually set people free. I know, and now Philip and Lacey know, and hundreds of our IJM staff and thousands who work with them, and the tens of thousands who pray with them, know that God is still in business of doing justice in the world but he doesn’t want to leave us out of the work. And his plan is to use us. That is why we are the light of the world.
Dennis: What you have to do is decide what part of the forest fire you are going to fight? You can’t tackle it all. There is so much evil in the world. But you know what? Determine what you’re passionate about. What’s God been doing in your life? Is it the orphan? Is it sex slavery? Is it slaves in general? Is it rebuilding the family? Find the area you’re passionate about. Roll up your sleeves and let’s go.
Bob: You may wind up in Bangalore or you may wind up next door or down at the local women’s shelter or helping out with the homeless in your community. It may be at a day care center where you’re sharing Bible stories with the kids. The point is, as you said, get in the game. Figure out which part of the forest fire you need to fight and let’s go. Let’s get after it.
Dennis: It’s a great adventure.
Gary: I found the secret is in just following the joy. Go deeply toward where the joy is going to take you and don’t let the fear stop you. For Philip and Lacey they followed their particular joy, for law, for justice, addressing the needs of slaves. What they didn’t do was let fear stop them.
In fact, it was their desperate need for God that was going to open up a richness and a depth of their relationship with God that they had never experienced before. So my encouragement is to those who are thinking about this. If your joy you feel is tugging you in a direction, follow it hard because Jesus said he said all these things to us so that we might have his joy and that our joy might be complete.
Bob: And you have to think that, as we’ve talked about this subject this week, some of our listeners have thought “that’s it for me. That’s where the joy would be found.”
If they haven’t read a copy of your book yet, The Good News About Injustice, they ought to get a copy of that book and read it or go to your website. We’ve got a link on our site at FamilyLife.com, where they can get more information about the work that you’re doing through International Justice Mission.
They can order a copy of the book from us online if they’d like or they can call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1 800-358-6329. The book is called The Good News About Injustice and it really does give you a solid biblical framework for understanding the issues and for looking at how we are to respond to these issues.
I might just mention I think it dovetails nicely with the devotional book that Barbara Rainey has written for families called Growing Together in Courage. Gary, you are talking about stepping out in faith and in courage and stepping away from fear and Barbara’s challenging families to that very same idea in this seven chapter devotional guide that she’s put together for families to use for family devotions. Again, there is information about her devotional guide online at FamilyLifeToday.com or you can call for more information at 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “TODAY.”
Let me just wrap up by saying in honor of Veteran’s Day our team came across a book recently called The Greatest Soldier Who Ever Lived. It’s an allegory based on a true story of a son who heard his grandfather talk about his involvement in D-Day and the Battle of Normandy and the spiritual impact that had on the son.
It’s a short book, a powerful story, and it’s something we thought would make a great gift item for someone who had served in the military or someone who is currently serving in the military. Because we celebrated Veteran’s Day this week, we are making copies of this book available to our listeners.
All you have to do is call and request one or go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and request one. We’re limiting it to one per household but we would like to send a copy of the book out to you. Again, all you have to do it go to FamilyLife Today.com and request it or call 1-800FL-TODAY and request a copy of the book The Greatest Soldier Who Ever Lived.
If you have never gotten in touch with us here at FamilyLife Today here is a great opportunity to do that and let us know that you’re listening and that you appreciate the ministry. We’d love to hear from you. So, again online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FLTODAY and ask for a copy of the book The Greatest Soldier Who Ever Lived and we’re happy to send it out to you. We do appreciate you listening to FamilyLife Today and letting us know that you’re listening.
And we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend and I hope you can join us back on Monday when Tim and Lea Lundy are going to join us along with Dr. Robert Lewis. We’re going to talk about what churches can do to help couples in the church experience a deeper level of oneness in marriage. We’ll unpack all of that on Monday and we hope you can join us for that conversation.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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