Before I finished seminary, before I was married, and before I had my children, there was a moment that has shaped all the moments since. This moment marked my call to leadership. It marked my call to justice. And it marked, above all, my call to Jesus.
I had been aware that God gave me a passion for renewing His Church, for leading others to be deeply connected to the vine of Jesus Christ as the source of their power, love, and insight. I had also become aware that 30 million people in our world – today – are being bought, sold and brutally violated by other human beings. I knew I wanted to end it.
I was not aware of what these two passions had to do with each other. I couldn’t shake the sense that there was something God was calling me to do about slavery, and yet I didn’t understand what I could possibly do.
Enter marriage and motherhood and the tension has only grown stronger. How do I love God, love my husband, raise my children, and help rescue victims of violent crimes across the globe? How do I carry my leadership in all of these areas without, quite frankly, losing my mind? Today, after more than a decade with IJM seeking justice for victims of violent injustice, I look back to that singular defining moment in December 2003. In that moment God unveiled for me a crossroads of purpose. Knowing the obstacles I would hit along the way, God has made that moment unforgettable in all the years since.
I was in my final year of seminary and newly dating Anthony, now my husband. Anthony knew I was passionate about ending slavery and invited me to an IJM event. Sharon Cohn Wu (now a dear friend of mine and mother of three) described a rescue operation than had just taken place. She told of a young girl crying out to God for rescue day and night, all the while living a nightmare of torture and rape. When finally rescued, this girl led investigators to find others in need of rescue.
As I listened to Sharon tell the story of this one little girl, a reality of cosmic proportions suddenly overwhelmed me:
The work of the Church, of the Gospel – it’s all of this: spiritual reconciliation with God; physical rescue, healing and restoration; God through His people alive in the world.
Our calling, above all, is to follow Jesus, and this was a moment of new clarity about the kind of work Jesus is up to in our world. With marriage and motherhood, all the tensions of leadership have grown. I am prone to fear, self-doubt, distractions and exhaustion unless I continually come back to this moment of clarity.
Rescue matters. My family matters. In fact, the degree to which these each matter and weigh in my heart can become crushing. But Jesus does not call us to a load that crushes. He knows and loves what is in our heart and invites us to take His yoke upon our shoulders.