I have prayed these words like a mantra.
Each time, I hoped my fear would give way to a newfound sense of freedom. However, the more I prayed, the more exhausted I became.
Being a good Christian
For as long as I can remember, I’ve sought God’s approval over everything else. If the doors of the church were open, I was there. If I wasn’t at church, you could rest assured that I was praying or attempting to read my Bible. This is what a “good Christian” is supposed to do, right?
I wanted to be a good Christian more than anything– but therein lay the problem. I focused more on what I was doing for Christ than what Christ had done for me on the Cross. Without knowing it, I was hopelessly and desperately trying to secure my vertical relationship with God.
The insidious desire to prove myself followed me to seminary. With each completed assignment, I white-knuckled my way toward eternal security, believing that though we are saved by grace through faith, I still need to do something to experience the freedom I had been promised.
The freedom came, but it was not based on anything that I had done. As was usual, I waited until the last minute to write a paper for my church history class. Much to my dismay, the shelves of the library had been picked clean. Given that I had few options left at this point, I grabbed the only two books still available. The more I read, God opened my eyes to the finished work of Christ. Freedom never came through introspection for me. It came only as I looked away from myself to the Cross of Christ.
Being a good neighbor
Upon realizing that the question of whether God loved me had been answered over two thousand years ago, my attention shifted from myself to others. As Gustaf Wingren famously put it in Luther on Vocation, “God doesn’t need your good works, but your neighbor does.” In other words, God’s grace empowers us to love our neighbors through what we do daily. The righteousness of Christ frees us from being curved inward and propels us outward toward our neighbor. In my case, it led me to start Let My People Go, an organization that exists to mobilize the local church to fight human trafficking by loving those most vulnerable.
Human trafficking is the exploitation of vulnerability for commercial gain. Traffickers intentionally target those who won’t likely be missed in many cases focusing on those in the margins. Isolating vulnerable people from friends and community is part and parcel of how a trafficker operates. Being a 150-billion-dollar industry, it’s not shocking that over 40 million people are trafficked around the world.
How should we respond?
I believe that God motivates vulnerable people like you and me to love other vulnerable people by becoming vulnerable for us. His love for us frees us to see others set free from what binds them. By focusing on those most vulnerable in our community, we care for those who could be, are being, or have been trafficked. By simply getting to know your neighbor, who is in the margins, a new immigrant, or someone experiencing homelessness, you are doing the work of prevention, intervention, and aftercare all in one fell swoop.
LMPG works with local churches to build a team leadership approach to perform a community needs assessment; Giving churches the resources and training to raise leaders to care for those most vulnerable congregationally and collaboratively. We desire to see the church be a place where those most vulnerable are protected, both spiritually and physically. When those facing difficult times cry out, “God save me from this situation,” God sends his church.