Uncover the hidden plague the world has missed

Sometimes when we see the reality of the suffering in the world around us, we want to close our eyes and forget what we’ve seen. Because if we were to acknowledge the plague of violence that has swept across our world, we would feel compelled to act.

That was the experience of Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission. Upon serving in Rwanda as the United Nations’ Director of Investigations following the genocide, he was so impacted by all that he saw, that he had to act. His response was to found IJM, a global organisation that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world.

Why violence? Because the threat of violence is part of everyday life for the poor; it’s as much a part of poverty as hunger, disease or homelessness. Because it is devastating our global efforts to end poverty; the poorest are so poor because their justice systems don’t protect them from violent people. 

This reality has been proven true for millions of children, women and men.

THIS IS THEIR EVERYDAY

Mariamma* had been working in a brick factory for years. She couldn’t leave the factory and was beaten by the man who owns her. Everything about this is completely illegal, but the man who hadenslaved her made no effort to hide what hewas doing — because exploiting an impoverished woman like Mariamma is ordinary.

In Mariamma’s own words:

“The cruelty — we have to take it, because we don’t have money or power. The police will believe [our owner] and not us because we are slaves…”

Laura* was only 10 years old, but already knew that every day held reasons to fear violence. In the slum where she lived, most daily tasks weren’t safe:
Her community wasn’t safe: she was on her way to the community toilet when she wassexually assaulted by a neighbour.
The walk to school wasn’t safe: She was on her way to class when she was assaulted again — by a different neighbour.
And even her home wasn’t safe: she was trapped in a nightmare of relentless abuse from her own father.

Susan* is a Ugandan grandmother who wasviolently thrown from her home by a man determined to take her small patch of land.It’s a common nightmare for many women in her community. When Susan left her home for a night to attend a wedding in another village, her neighbour literally toredown her home, so he could take the little patch of land it sat on.

An elderly woman already bearing the heavy burdens of trying to scratch out survival for herself and her grandkids, what could Susan do? There was no one standing up for women like her.Thrown from her home, she had no shelter, no place to grow food and no garden for income.

Nonita* was lured from her hometown by traffickers promising a high-paying job, but she soon learned it was a lie. Nonita realised she would be forced to line up in a room to be sold to men for sex, she said she was “shocked and terrified.”

“I have the right to stand up for myself. I have the right to be loved.” – Survivor ‘Bill of Rights’ written by Nonita and other survivors

All of the above are actual IJM client stories.  But for each of them, their story differed from those of millions of others in one crucial way: they have all been brought out of the darkness of everyday violence into the light of freedom andgiven hope for the future. They have all been able to make their voice heard so that justice can be proven possible. 

IJM protects the poor from violence by partnering with local authorities to: rescue victims; bring criminals to justice; restore survivors to safety and strength; and strengthenjustice systems, helping local law enforcement build a safe future that lasts.

YOU CAN HELP CHANGE THEIR EVERYDAY

We believe the work of justice begins with prayer. As we seek justice on behalf of others, we rely on a God of strength to help us do what is only possible with and through Him.

Join us at the Friends Meeting House, Manchester on Tuesday 23rd September for the Labour Party Conference Prayer Breakfast, led by IJM. Learn more about everyday violence, pray for an end to this hidden plague and be inspired to take up the call for justice. 

*A pseudonym has been used for the protection of this IJM client.

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Faith: too significant to ignore

In the FaithAction offices earlier this year, when we began knocking around ideas for a phrase to serve as a discussion starter, we had no idea of how potent it would become. What a difference a couple of months can make. When we first discussed ‘Too Significant to Ignore’, the Birmingham ‘Trojan Horse’ had not yet reared its head, the ‘Arab Spring’ could still be viewed as a positive thing, not many of us knew the Arabic symbol for N (Nazarene)and the Trussell Trust –they behind the nation’s Food Banks – seemed to be the only effective voice holding the Government reform agenda to account.

In spite of David Cameron’s declaration that Great Britain is a Christian countryfaith seemed to be far from the centre of the public discourse. This statement of personal opinion is very much in contrast with, for example, the Office of Faith-basedinitiatives in the White House, now an established part of bothRepublican and Democratic administrations.

Over the next few weeks, we will be talking more on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society’s work around the Covenant, which local authorities and local faith organisations are signing in commitment to work together to serve their communities.

But things have moved on. Faith, for better or worse, is too significant to ignoreAnd yet, again and again, faith is notplanned for, but merely reacted to; which is surely absurd fornon-government institutions that still serve as a point of connection for over half the population of the UK. Most of those who own a faith may not see this as a disadvantage, but as a key part of what makes them who they are. And, yes,some are willing to die for it! That doesn’t seem like something that should just be passed over.

And what of those Food Bank volunteers? Often, they are people of faith coming face-to-face with poverty and needsthat many of us struggle to comprehend as being part of UK society. It is a concern, maybe, for Conservative CentralOffice to see the older white middle class woman on TV; wearing Trussell Trust aprons, discussing the needy folk they meet every day, and looking awkward when asked about the state of benefits system.

Faith is not all fanaticism or flakiness – it cannot be confined to one day a week, and it can cause people to act outside of what can be considered their own best interest for a greater good. Here are some examples of people I know: Faith causes a Christian couple in London to open their home to strangers needing a bed for the night after sleeping rough; the Gurdwarain Birmingham (like so many throughout the UK,) feedswhoever comes to the door; those who give their time to mentoring young people who have never had a consistentadult interest in their lives. Then there are those who are risking their well-being overseas; pastors who won’t abandon their flock even in the face of Ebola in West Africa; those who are organising aid to respond to the needs in Syria and Iraq despite risk to life and reputation.

Faith has far more significance and impact for good, whichthis country has not yet grasped.

The Blue Labour movement in the Labour Party, with its roots in Christian Socialism and connection of family, flag andfaith, gives a prominence of consideration to the role faith can play in party politics.

Over the next little while, we will be challenging the politicalparties regarding their response and plan for faith. Why not join us and ask your local politicians the same?

Tell them that faith is too significant to ignore!

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Your message to Iraqi and Syrian Christians

"Please pray for us who had to leave their homes by force in Iraq because of the situation. Please pray for protection, peace and provision to our families." (Iraqi viewer of SAT-7)

Christian Satellite 7 which broadcasts into Iraq and Syria wants people to show support to the Christians of Iraq and Syria by writing prayers or a message of love which may get read out, or shown on screen to viewers in the region.

 “The Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon said the killings and religious "cleansing" by "the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)...verge on being a bona fide genocide", which combined with the "catastrophic" three-year conflict in Syria, have created an "existential threat" to Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.” (SAT-7)

If you wish to give a message of support go to http://www.sat7uk.org/Campaigns/loveIraq

Christians on the left will also be holding a prayer event 10pm to 10:30pm for the Middle East this Sunday 21st Sep. Those of us who are at Labour Party Conference will be meeting in Lincoln Square for a Candlelit Vigil. (Brazenose St, M2 5LN) - very close to the conference venue.

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In the developing world, violence is an everyday threat

Most of us live without the constant fear of violence. Whilst it may not be a conscious realisation, we live our lives knowing that we are safe and protected and that we have good law enforcement which, on the majority of occasions, will successfully protect us from abuse.

But this is not true for everyone.

Throughout the developing world, fear of violence is part of everyday life for the poor. It’s as much a part of poverty as hunger, disease or homelessness and is devastating the developing world. It is only more difficult to see. Without effective justice systems to protect them from violence, the world’s poor live in a state of fear.

The poorest are so vulnerable because their justice systems – police, courts and laws – don’t protect them from violent people. While their wealthier neighbours can pay for security guards, high walls and safe homes, the poor cannot. The threat of violence is relentless and pervasive; the poor live with a constant threat of being raped, robbed, assaulted or exploited.

For the poor, the risk of violence is part of their every day.

Gender violence kills and disables more women and girls than cancer, traffic accidents, malaria and war combined – World Health Organisation

With incomes for the global poor hovering around $1-$2 a day, the average person cannot hope to pay legal fees – ILO

Critically, this violence is not only destroying individual lives, but undermining the world’s efforts to end poverty.

In nearly 20 communities throughout the developing world, International Justice Mission (IJM) fights everyday violence against the poor. Specifically, we focus on addressing: sex trafficking; sexual violence; slavery; police abuse of power; property grabbing; and citizenship rights abuse.

We protect the poor from such violence by partnering with local authorities to:
Rescue victims
Bring criminals to justice
Restore survivors
Strengthen justice systems

 

Griselda

Raped by three men when she was 13, Griselda finally received justice after five years of IJM’s support and is now thriving as she speaks up on behalf of other survivors.

Michael

After languishing in prison for 18 months for a crime he hadn’t committed, and enduring another 18 months of uncertainty after he was released on bail pending an appeal of the wrongful conviction, Michael’s name was finally cleared and he was a free man once again. 

Charito

Charito* was rescued from sex trafficking when she was 14 years old. With the conviction of her trafficker secured, Charito said, "The justice I've been looking for, for almost 8 years ... now I have it." 

 

But we don’t stop at rescuing people who have been abused. Our ultimate goal is to prevent the violence from happening in the first place. All of our work is designed to drive maximum-impact, long-term transformation that will make the poor safe enough to thrive.

Cebu, the Philippines: After four years of IJM casework, independent researchers found a 79% decrease in the availability of children being sold for sex in Metro Cebu, the Philippines.
Cambodia: In the early 2000s, several research studies in Cambodia found that between 15-30% of those prostituted were minors. Today, IJM’s research and investigation shows that the prevalence of minors in sex establishments in Cambodia’s 3 largest cities is down to 8.16% - and the prevalence of minors under 15 is now below 1%.

Throughout the world, IJM is fuelling the global justice movement by drawing the world’s attention to everyday violence, influencing leaders to become champions for protecting the poor and rallying all people of good will to the fight.

Here in the UK, we are applying IJM’s unique global experience to strengthen the UK justice system and encourage the UK – including the government, the Church and a new generation – to lead the way in addressing everyday violence, both globally and locally.

You are encouraged to join us at the Friends Meeting House, Manchester on Tuesday 23rd September for the Labour Party Conference Prayer Breakfast, led by IJM. Learn more about everyday violence, pray for an end to this hidden plague and be inspired to take up the call for justice.

 


*A pseudonym has been used for the protection of this IJM client.

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International Development Bill

The International Development (Official Development Assistance target) Bill

STimms.jpgThe International Development Bill has passed and heads to committee stage, Stephen Timms MP comments that,

"The commitment to meet the UN target that international aid spending should be at least 0.7% of GDP was made by the last Government.  It has been delivered by the current Coalition.  There is no doubt in my mind that the achievement of a cross party consensus on this issue, and the success of this Bill at second reading today, is largely due to effective campaigning on the part of the Churches."

Further information can be found at http://www.turnupsavelives.org.uk/why-legislate

 
A transcript of this debate can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/12/
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Statement on the plight of Christians & other minorities in Iraq

Christians are suffering and dying in Iraq. The terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) is killing them, displacing them and seizing their properties. Now Iraq’s ancient Yazidi community is experiencing similar abuses.

 

This is a catastrophe for the people of Iraq and the region and if left unchecked it could also have profound implications for freedom and democracy across the globe. Religious freedom is a fundamental right that has been described as a ‘litmus test’ for the depth of democracy. That’s why attacks on this right cannot be ignored.

 

We believe that if Western governments allow groups like IS to persecute populations with impunity, it will set a dangerous precedent in global affairs. The situation in Iraq is particularly important because Western governments were complicit in creating the vacuum into which the terrorists have now stepped. It is unacceptable for Western governments that embarked on the process of bringing freedom and human rights to Iraq to continue neglecting this situation. It is vital that all of Iraq's religious and ethnic minorities are guaranteed a future in their country.

 

The UN Secretary General and Security Council have urged international assistance for the Iraqi government and people. Therefore, we call upon our own government to provide practical assistance for those displaced by the current violence who wish to remain in their country. We also echo the call of the Church of England for Iraqi Christian refugees and those from other minority communities who wish to escape persecution to be granted asylum in the United Kingdom in accordance with the international refugee convention.

 

Events in Iraq form part of a broader pattern of increasing persecution of Christians and other religious minorities. In many countries, including Syria, Iran, Nigeria, Mali, CAR, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, Somalia and Afghanistan, well-armed Islamist extremists are not only persecuting Christians severely, but are also violating the rights of all who do not share their restrictive dogma. The international community must unite and take action to stem the seemingly inexorable advance of violent insurgencies that use religion to justify their severe violations of fundamental freedoms and their wanton disregard for human dignity. Western governments have a responsibility to play a leading role in this action. And taking a stand on Iraq needs to be the starting point.

 - RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION STATEMENT ON THE PLIGHT OF CHRISTIANS AND OTHER MINORITIES IN IRAQ WHICH CHRISTIANS ON THE LEFT FULLY SUPPORTS.
The Religious Liberty Commission (RLC), formed in 2012, exists to bring organisations working on behalf of persecuted Christians together to speak with one voice. RLC members are: Release International, Open Doors (UK & Ireland), Christian Solidarity Worldwide and the Evangelical Alliance (UK).  
 
Each member organisation has its own distinctive mandate but we all feel the issue of Christian persecution is so important that we want to speak together regularly to raise awareness of key developments globally, in a significant and collaborative way.
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++Justin Addresses National Prayer Breakfast

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, delivered a keynote speech this morning on 'Global Christianity in the 21st Century' at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, Westminster - the first time an Archbishop of Canterbury has addressed the event. 

The Prayer Breakfast, organised by Christians in Parliament and the Bible Society, was attended by both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition for the first time in its history.

In his address the Archbishop said:

"The Church of the 21st century is among the most efficient and the best deliverers of help for the poor that exists on the face of the earth... Isn’t it wonderful, let’s celebrate what’s good – it’s easy to be cynical about politics – but let’s celebrate what’s good: that with cross-party support in this country we have maintained international aid at 0.7 per cent of GDP. That we have introduced – again, across the parties – the Modern Slavery Bill, leading the world and tackling trafficking, which I was talking to the Pope about yesterday. That last week, again across politics, there was support for the greatest conference on sexual violence in conflict that has existed. Those aren’t cynical vote winners, from any politician in this room; but they arise from a spirit of generosity, which is right and proper...."

"...The church is not an NGO with lots of old buildings. It is the Church of God, rejoicing in the realities of cultural diversity in a way never known before: global, cross-bearing, confident and welcoming. The Church holds for the world the treasure of reconciliation, and offers it as a gift freely given out of its own experience of struggling with the reality of it, of being reconciled ourselves through the sovereign love of God in Jesus Christ. The global Church is above all God's church, for all its failings, and in passionate devotion to him will offer the treasure He puts in our hands, unconditionally, always pointing in worship, deed and word to Jesus Christ."

A full transcript of the Archbishop's address, as delivered, is available on his website, here.
 

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What are we going to do about Ukip?

EU09UKIP1.pngWhat are we going to do about UKIP? It is clear that there is strong support for the ‘anti-Europe’ sentiment in most areas in our country. I live in a relatively safe Labour area in Leeds and UKIP increased their vote share (of those who actually voted) by more than 20% for the local elections, and got three of the six seats up for grabs in Europe. I think this is quite worrying, but if we are going to win the next general election we need to have a clear positive agenda.

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Read our newsletter online

Just a quick note to let you know that you can read our latest newsletter online by clicking here

You can also see the previous issue on the same page. As time passes, we will build an archive of Christians on the Left publications to read online.

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Keep focused on the mission

After Labour lost the 2010 General Election we realised we needed to reconnect politics with people. We needed to rebuild a broad-based coalition around our values that was inclusive and which gave a voice to many who felt politics no longer did anything for them. It would be a real shame if Labour let these results tempt it away from this mission.

 

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