Light can triumph over darkness

International Justice Mission are the the largest anti-slavery organisation in the world. Irish methodist world development & Relief partner with IJM UK in their fight for justice. 

In this blog, Amy Anderson  (Regional Development Intern IJM UK) shares with us how IJM are bringing light & hope into some of the darkest areas of the world. 

Join them on Saturday 24th March for Ireland's first PRAY FOR JUSTICE gathering in Drumbeg Parish, Belfast. Visit their site for details. 

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“For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” Isaiah 30:18

From the dark doors of a brothel in Iloilo City, Philippines, came a loud and abrupt knocking. The nine girls inside the house grew anxious, wondering which may be chosen by the customer waiting at the other side of the door.  The lady who owned the brothel carefully opened the door, expecting one of the brothels usual customer’s- she was shocked to see policemen. 

Inside the brothel sixteen-year-old Nessa was no longer filled with fear, but hope.

“When they came in, I was so happy and I thought to myself, ‘Finally, this is the time we will be rescued from this darkness.”’

And so, after four months sexual exploitation, Nessa was rescued from the brothel and taken to an aftercare home to heal. With the support of IJM of social workers and lawyers from IJM, she decided to share her testimony in court. The brothel owner was convicted and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Nessa’s life was forever changed.

She was finally free.  

For so many girls across the world, they are still trapped in darkness, waiting for the light to come.

Today an overwhelming 4 billion people live outside of the protection of the law. When I first began my internship with IJM I found this fact most difficult to grasp- until I began seeing it from the lens of those it most impacts.

For the widow in Uganda, this looks like being beaten, homeless and stripped of your belongings. For the young boy in Ghana, this looks like working 18 hours a day on a fishing boat where the only way out is to drown or be rescued. For the man in India, this looks like being beaten, intimidated and forced to endure backbreaking work for little to no pay.  I began to learn that when traffickers and slave owners face no fear of punishment for their crimes violence becomes an everyday threat to those most vulnerable. 

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There is undeniably a lot of darkness in our world. How could we make a difference?

Let me encourage you that light is breaking through the darkness. Here, at International Justice Mission, we protect the poor from violence in the developing world and we have seen that justice for the poor is possible. We have rescued more than 40,000 people from violence and continue to support them through rehabilitative aftercare programs that give them the tools they need to heal. But that’s not where it ends. IJM have proven that where laws are enforced, violence against the poor stops. Working alongside local law enforcement to transform and strengthen the justice system, we are helping to protect over 150 million people from violence.

So, how do we, as ‘ordinary’ men and women living in Ireland, respond?

You don’t have to be an investigator, social worker or lawyer to fulfil the biblical mandate of fighting for the poor. Each one of us are called, as the body of Christ, to seek justice. With more slaves in the world today than ever before, we rely on the support of our global prayer partners and prayer communities. We believe that God is calling His church to join Him in the work of ending slavery and we know that His desire is for those trapped in darkness to be set free into the light. You can sign up on our website today and become a prayer partner as you join thousands of people committed to seeking justice through prayer.

Yes, there is a lot of darkness in our world. But one step at a time, we are breaking through that darkness and we are trusting that our all-powerful God, the Light of the World, goes with us. We rejoice in every victim rescued and every justice system restored, believing that the light shines in the darknessand thatthe darkness has not overcome it.

Will you join us in the fight against injustice?

Amy Anderson

Regional Development Intern, IJM UK 

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Sustainability in the Amazon

Soluciones Practicas, one of our co-funded partners with Christian Aid Ireland, work in Bolivia to eradicate poverty. They do this by developing skills, using new technology and working with the poor to influence social, economic and institutional systems that promote innovation.

In this blog, Emma Donlan (Christian Aid's Country Manager for Bolivia) explains why this approach is vital for sustainability and the future of our planet. 

When most people think about Bolivia, images of snowcapped mountains and llamas usually come to mind. However, over 3/4 of the country is covered by forests - that’s about 2.5 times the size of the UK.

The Bolivian Amazon is home to over 30 different indigenous ethnic groups, most with their own language and rich culture and it is also one of the most bio diverse places on this planet. Protecting the Amazon rain forest is not only about protecting the land rights and home of the indigenous communities that live here - but it is also a global imperative for the future sustainability of our shared planet.

The Amazon is a complicated region and logistically difficult for NGOs. The communities are disperse and isolated - often the only way for us reach the projects is by boat, quadbikes or trekking hours through the forest. Many other NGOs have tried but have given up. Christian Aid has was one of the first development NGOs and we are now a reference point for work with indigenous communities in the Amazon. The impact that Christian Aid and our partners, like WDR, have had over the past 20 years has been transformational. We have secured land titles to over 347 thousand hectares of land and empowered indigenous men and women – who for generations were the forgotten people, invisible and remote in the forests - to finally have their voices heard and participate in decision making processes that affect them.

Working to achieve impact across such vast areas, means that we cannot work on small isolated projects. Our 10 local partners coordinate on joint programmes sharing their different areas of expertise, to reach more people so that we can optimize the limited resources that we have.

There`s a sense of urgency to our work. The land rights that we all fought so hard for are being increasingly eroded by the climate change, mining, logging companies and the megaprojects such a hydroelectric dams which threaten to literally sweep away the livelihoods of many small forest communities.

This is why building resilience of vulnerable communities is at the heart of what we do, developing  community action plans to manage risks and mapping the areas where they are vulnerable and also the areas where they have resources - not only the material things, but also the experience, knowledge and relationships that they can draw on - before, during and after a disaster hits.


We are also drawing on natures powerful gifts, such as the sunshine. Funds from the Irish Methodists, through WDR, have supported Christian Aid to provide solar energy to transform the lives for remote forest communities. During the past year we have piloted solar panels to bring light to the homes of communities, also to charge phones and radios so that they can communicate with markets and receive news from the world beyond the forests. Solar pumps draw up clean water for those communities affected by the contamination of their rivers, and solar driers to improve the quality of their coco beans, so that they can fetch better prices on the market. With your support, we are will be providing 300 families with solar ovens over the next 3 years. Most families rely on firewood to cook - but during the long rainy seasons or when there are floods, there is often no dry fuel to cook food or boil safe drinking water.

The solar oven not only saves up to 3kg of firewood a day, but really makes life a lot easier for women like Lourdes. Each day she used to spend about 4 hours collecting fire wood and cooking over a smoky fire. Now Lourdes has more free time to get on and do other things, such as making handicrafts to sell or playing in the women’s football team!

The indigenous people refer to the Amazon forest as “Our Common Home”. They see it as a special bountiful place for this planet which offers protection, medicine, food, water, oxygen and a home for us. Faced with so many imminent threats, there is an increasing sense of urgency to Christian Aid`s work in the Amazon. The ongoing support and solidarity of the Methodist Church of Ireland has never been more important to us, not only in terms of fundraising, which enables us to reach the poorest and most remote communities -  but also it enables us to innovate and to demonstrate to authorities and decision makers that there are alternative and more sustainable ways of development for our planet and the people of the forests to thrive and to live in dignity.