How can anyone really make a dent in an evil as immense and pervasive as modern day slavery?
By embracing your unique talents and abilities, then using them in whatever way you can.
During my first year in Melbourne I met a group of Australians who do just that.
Unshackled began as one Aussie woman’s response to human trafficking and grew into an organized group of men and women. Unshackled is extraordinarily well connected and, thanks to significant efforts over the years, garners strong respect from their network on both a local and national scale. They also raise awareness and support for international organizations fighting human trafficking.
In 2013 I had the privilege of volunteering with Unshackled, representing HOPE61’s interests but mostly learning from the group and gaining experience. They held a music festival that year featuring Australian artists. Each day a couple of speakers from organizations like World Vision, Baptist World Aid, Collective Shout, Jasper Coffee, and more, shared about human trafficking or related issues.
I loved working with Unshackled; not just because I gained valuable insight into conducting ministry in Australia, or because I made connections with people outside of my own network, but because I got to work with strong, inspirational abolitionists. It was a great way to begin building relationships not only for myself but for HOPE61 ministry.
At some point during my deputation I realized that HOPE61 Australia & New Zealand are ready for an action plan beyond building a network. I knew that when I came back to the southern hemisphere it would be time to set specific goals and, God willing, begin an upward trajectory. Because of this desire I also recognized the need for me to devote myself to ministry in a new way – through choices, like how I spend HOPE61 resources. The most abundant of these is time. Over the course of the first year I served in Australia & New Zealand, I seized the majority of opportunities to work with other organizations, meet this person and that, and attend conferences. Even during fundraising out of country I knew that to take the path of growth I’d have to be more selective about where time went. Depending on how Unshackled felt it was right to be involved with HOPE61, I thought I might have to forego regular participation.
It’s become the norm but I still fail to expect it – once again God exceeded my expectations.
In July I met up with Jess, Unshackled’s founder and coordinator, her husband Chris, and their son. (He made his entrance into the world while I’d been away.) We enjoyed hot drinks at one of the many cafes that make Melbourne so confident in the superiority of its coffee culture. As we chatted about the changes in HOPE61 and Unshackled since we’d last been on the same continent everything appeared to be falling into place.
Unshackled now functions through partnerships with other organizations through formal, written agreements. The written agreement includes the goals that both groups hope to accomplish in that time, e.g. hold a conference or have an art show. There is a leadership team in addition to the team of volunteers. Each volunteer comes on board to perform specific tasks. As a part of this new operation Unshackled must have a volunteer willing to be the liasion, or, advocate, for HOPE61 before we can officially partner.
So far I’ve met with Jess about this, met with the leadership team to discuss HOPE61 Australia/NZ’s focus on equipping the men of the Church to address preventing the demand for sex trafficking, and introduced HOPE61’s goals and purpose to the larger volunteer team. At this point the reactions have all been positive and Unshackled’s leadership are supportive of the idea. Working with Unshackled to hold HOPE61 training would provide access to a larger group of Christian men than we have on our own.
To move forward in this partnership, though, we must have an advocate. Of ccourse a female advocate would be fantastic, however, it would be exceedingly beneficial to have a male advocate instead of or in addition to. Please pray that God will soon bring forward the right person or persons to facilitate an Unshackled-HOPE61 partnership. I’m a fan of potential and I can’t wait to see the potential flourish here!