I drive between two towns frequently and have my eye on an abandoned home. I will call it Middle Grounds, the coffeehouse I dream of opening. The place where all my meetings will conveniently occur. My home is not far and I am used to living along the border, choosing school districts, sports leagues, and general affinity to a people.
Many of us find ourselves in the in between places these days. We fully fit absolutely, nowhere. We are both and. We are neither nor. We want it all- unity and purity and truth and beauty.
My lovely 13-year old wrote and performed a song at church for National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. She sang “prison bars are fences, prison cells my mind, no metal cages anywhere, chains of a different kind.” Incomprehensibly, she captured the ambivalence of a victim; the tortured soul who both feels trapped and is yet technically free to leave. The in between.
I straddle two worlds in my work to end human trafficking in our community, neither Christian enough to warrant full embrace by churches, nor secular enough to garner support from foundations. I find myself collaborating with other believers, secretly fighting for justice in their sphere of influence, from within their profession: police officers, nurses, teachers, professors, investigators. We are secret agents, working incognito to bring freedom to those with “chains of a different kind.”
Paul says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, do not allow yourselves to be burdened again by the yolk of slavery.” Yes, it is out of the freedom we have received in Christ that we are empowered to fight for the freedom of others. Even if we do so in stealth mode.
God created the world to be a fabric: everything woven together and interdependent, says Tim Keller. He says, “We do justice when we go where the fabric is breaking down, where the weaker members of society are falling through.” God has called us to go where the fabric is breaking down. Where individuals are falling through. In fact, he says if this exists in our community, we are not doing justice. Which is to say, we are not experiencing a rightness between us and others. We are not living shalom.
As with any injustice, the fight to end sex trafficking is a fight for shalom.
It is the enactment of God’s justice on earth. The word “just”, used almost 1000 times in the Bible in two ways, refers to this rightness; the first, to a rightness between us and Him- internal; the second, to a rightness between us and ourselves, our community, and our environment- external. The one, our justification through saving grace. The other, our response to that grace.
What is your response to God’s grace?
If we are to end sex trafficking, we must dwell in the in between space. We must move toward thinning fabric and work to restore right relationships in our community. Being a freedom fighter inherently means pursuing peace between yourself and others, them and God. It is our fight for justice, our fight for shalom.
Beth Bruno is founder and director of A Face to Reframe, a non-profit committed to preventing human trafficking through arts, training, and community building. She writes about women in ministry, girls becoming women, and exploited women. Her writing has appeared at Relevant, Today’s Christian Woman, InterVarsity’s The Well, and she is a proud member of Redbud Writer’s Guild. She can be found in the mountains of Colorado with her husband and 3 kids or at www.bethbruno.org.