By Sharon Brennan
For Christmas break in my second year of college, I went home to spend the holidays with my parents. Shortly after New Year’s Day, we experienced a house fire. I knew they needed help, so instead of returning to college, I got a job. The biggest challenge for me was buying clothing to wear to my new job. I was in the shower at the time of the fire, so I didn’t even have “the clothes on my back.” With only the limited cash provided by the insurance company (this was before ATMs), I could only afford two skirts, one pair of pants and a few tops, but not enough to wear a different outfit each day of the week. By week three, several of my co-workers were taking bets on which outfit I would wear the following day. It was so embarrassing, especially at 20 years of age. I just wanted to shout, “This is not who I am…I am not like this…you only see my circumstances, not me.” But I wasn’t brave enough.
So why am I telling you this? Over the last year or so, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with a few folks who work for and/or volunteer their time for International Justice Mission (“IJM”). I have always admired the work that IJM has accomplished and the changes that they have made to people’s lives because of it, especially what they are doing for the victims of human trafficking. IJM provides help in restoring justice to a broken system that has failed to keep its people safe.
But working with these folks has shown me something more. It has reminded me to look beyond the circumstances of people. To see that this is not who these people are; this is not what God has intended for their lives. These IJM folks have reminded me to love others as Jesus has taught me to love. And to allow my heart to break for what breaks God’s heart. They’ve shown me how to serve God with the understanding that He can do everything; but that nothing can be done without Him. To offer up your hands and feet to God so He may work through them. Through IJM, God is doing some awesome and amazing things. IJM is providing hope in places where hope had once departed. I have been shown what it means to serve God with a joyful heart and for that, I thank them.