Written by Kelly Cameron, International Justice Mission Canada
There are certain things that are just better together. Combining singular elements can sometimes multiply the impact of each with a new unique whole. Since I’m a “foodie, my first thoughts go to flavour profiles: dark chocolate and sea salt; mint and lime; white chocolate and raspberry. At the beginning of 2016, International Justice Mission Canada (IJM) embarked on a new partnership with Gather Women. Some may question what a national Christian women’s movement and an international NGO that protects the poor from violence have in common? The answer: quite a lot.
I was introduced to Gather Women at a regional gathering of women in the Greater Toronto Area. I’ll admit, I wasn’t completely convinced that spending most of my Saturday at a gathering for Christian women was going to be for me. You see, I’ve had the experience of being “the only” in many a Christian ladies circles. The “only” single one; the “only” one without kids; the “only” one under 50; the “only” non-majority culture girl in the room. I had spent the morning dancing in a local community parade (yep, probably an “only” on that one too) and came into the room mid-session. Walking past the book tables in the hall I spied “Jesus Feminist” by Sarah Bessey, a book I had recently started reading, alongside Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts.” “Hmmm, there’s a hopeful sign,” I thought. I came into a circle of diverse women and was greeted by Cathie Ostapchuk, Gather Women’s co-founder. Little did I know then that this woman would become a friend and supporter in championing a great partnership between Gather Women and IJM.
Throughout the day I listened to the emerging idea of Gather Women. The purpose, values, and mission seemed like a natural fit with IJM Canada. One of our priorities at IJM Canada is to equip the Canadian Church to understand God’s call to justice and mobilize to address injustice around the world and in our own backyards. Part of Gather Women’s purpose is “to equip and resource women with teaching and tools to live their faith and put their faith in action to transform their nation.” This mandate directly supports and connects with IJM Canada’s efforts.
As I’ve spoken around Canada, I frequently meet women with a need to “do something” about slavery, sex trafficking and the other forms of violence that IJM works to protect the poor from. My colleague Bethany Hoang puts it this way, “Justice doesn’t start at the door of a brothel but at the foot of the cross.” Because of this reality, we want to ensure that women dig into the biblical foundations that they need to pursue justice with lungs of endurance rather than short fits of fleeting passion. We’ve partnered with Gather Women to offer all participants at 2016 Gather events a free download of IJM Canada’s small group Bible study, “Your Kingdom Come” as a starting place for grounding ourselves in God’s passionate heart for justice and learn how He’s calling us to join Him in pursuing it.
One of Gather Women’s values is “We choose to Be Bold…not timid.” IJM Canada and Gather Women and have put out the call for women to “live boldly” by taking “what’s in their hands and who’s in their circle” to fund freedom. With an estimated 45.8 million people in slavery today, the need is great. We are excited to be doing this in a whole new way at Gather Rise, where we as “the one, the few, and the many” will come together to raise rescue in one day!
There’s a rising company of women in this nation who are “gathering in to go out” and effect change in the world around them. I rarely have to convince women that justice matters. We just seem to get it and want to do something about it. At IJM Canada we see it among our supporters, donors, and prayer partners who come alongside and help to fuel our work.
We see it in the teacher stewarding her students passion to help end modern-day slavery.
We see it in the lawyer who plans a tea and raises $20,000 to bring rescue.
We see it in the artisan who knits and sells her creations to help fund freedom.
As I’ve joined Gather Women at their regional gatherings across Canada I’ve seen it there too. Women bravely sharing who they are, who they represent, and how they are living out God’s call as ones who:
For the audience of One we live and breathe and have our being.
You liberate us from the chains of a lesser love,
You liberate us to become liberators for others…
(Excerpt from Gather Women Prayer)
It is an honour for us at IJM Canada to partner with Gather Women. To be able to bring women together across our great nation, to not only to “gather in” but to go out and change the lives of others.
We are better together.