Gary Haugen's life took a sharp turn in 1994. The young attorney with degrees from Harvard and the University of Chicago was loaned by the Department of Justice to the United Nations' team investigating the genocide in Rwanda. Painstakingly gathering evidence from the sites of massacres and the stories of victims, Haugen confronted the power of evil and the reality of lawlessness. When he came home from Rwanda, he founded International Justice Mission (IJM), an organization nearly unique among human-rights agencies for its focus on dogged legal casework and its depth of Christian conviction. During the past decade, IJM has played a major role in awakening American Christians to global injustice, and, more importantly, to the opportunity we have to bring justice to the oppressed. Haugen has a bracing answer to our big question for 2007: What must we learn, and unlearn, to be agents of God's mission in the world?
Wouldn't it be ironic if Western Christians were more excited about what God did through William Wilberforce to fight slavery in 1807 than about what God wants to do through us to fight slavery in 2007?
The question would seem absurd if not for the fact that there are more slaves in the world today than were extracted from Africa during 400 years of the transatlantic slave trade. More than 25 million human beings are slaves in 2007. They are not slaves in a metaphorical sense. They are held in forced servitude by other human beings. The statistics may seem incomprehensible, but my colleagues and I have known thousands of them by name.
Indeed, it takes far less time for an American in 2007 to hop on a jet airplane and see where slaves are held on the other side of the world than it would have taken Wilberforce to visit ...