CBP: Please share your Christian testimony with us.
GH: My mother introduced me to Jesus when I was a small boy and marched the six of us kids off to Baptist church. I always knew where I was going to be on Sunday morning. Through high school and college I wrestled hard with the intellectual challenges to faith and emerged a convinced Christian. I found that the worldview that Jesus taught not only stood up in the market place of ideas; but also actually changed lives, including my own -- in a way that nothing else I saw did.
CBP: In your book, Terrify No More, you detail your efforts to rescue children being used as sex slaves in Cambodia. Why do you consider the pursuit of justice so important for Christians to be involved in?
GH: Throughout scripture God repeatedly demonstrates his heart for the oppressed and the importance of justice as a priority for his people. In fact, in Micah 6 God provides a short list of what he requires, and to the surprise of many North American Christians, the first item is to “seek justice.” This is not an option for the believer, but a requirement. God does have a plan to end the oppression and suffering in the world and his plan is us.
CBP: Why do you think we hear so little preaching on justice?
GH: I’m not sure. Perhaps it is because until recently Christian leaders didn’t know what it meant in practical terms to “seek justice.” That’s one of the gifts I believe IJM has to offer the Body of Christ. In the past the Church has done an excellent job of sharing the gospel with the world, feeding and clothing the poor and providing other practical aid throughout the world. IJM was founded to bring another kind of relief – relief from oppression. Another gift I’m hopeful we can provide to North American Christians is the gift of courage -- to live above the petty fears and concerns of the “me and mine” and to live courageously to benefit the weak and vulnerable.
CBP: Can you tell us about IJM's four-prong ministry?
GH: International Justice Mission’s four-fold purpose is to provide immediate rescue and relief to the victims of brutal abuses and injustices in our world; ensure that these victims receive full, complete and appropriate aftercare to help them heal from the horrors of their ordeals; bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice through jail, fines and closures of businesses; and encourage structural changes to prevent abuses from happening in the first place and happening in the future.
CBP: Why do you consider the prosecution of perpetrators an important part of your ministry?
GH: As lawyers and criminal investigators my colleagues at IJM know that in order to bring lasting change in the areas where the most severe oppression is occurring you must change the calculation of risk. Traffickers, pimps, slave owners, rapists, torturers and other people who abuse their power must determine that it is no longer expedient, and is in fact dangerous, to commit crimes against vulnerable people. We must in fact create an atmosphere where the perpetrators, not the victims, are afraid. You don’t have to put many people behind bars in a country before the message gets through. This is precisely the story we tell in “Terrify No More” where the perpetrators in Svay Pak are now behind bars and we’ve seen the chilling effect this has had on the trade in young children.
CBP: Why do you do aftercare instead of returning the children to their homes? What is your success rate?
GH: International Justice Mission social workers spend a considerable amount of time with girls who are rescued from brothels to determine the best long-term situation for their restoration. When the family is not involved in the trafficking of the child and the environment at home is healthy and safe, the child will often be placed in their family home. However, sometimes the parents are actually complicit in the trafficking and the safest place for the child is in a loving aftercare home. We have wonderful relationships with aftercare providers who are uniquely equipped to help the women and girls begin to recover from the horrors they have experienced. Often the children return to school and the older girls and women are taught a new trade.
CBP: How do you protect your people from temptation and false accusations? And burn out?
GH: It may sound contrived, but truly our strongest protection against temptation, accusations and burn out is prayer. We count on the thousands of IJM Prayer Partners around the world to uphold us in prayer to protect both our staff and the victims. In practical terms, the safety and integrity of our staff is a high priority for the leadership at IJM. We have systems and programs in place to ensure this.
CBP: In Terrify No More, did Jhoti's friend who told her about Jesus make it out of the brothel?
GH: I’m not certain as to the whereabouts of Jyoti’s friend.
CBP: What can the common Christian do to help?
GH: I’d encourage every person interested in bringing rescue and relief to victims of oppression to do a couple of things. First, visit www.ijm.org and sign up to receive regular updates on our work, this will help them get informed and stay informed – education is key to getting involved and to ending oppression. Second, sign up as a Prayer Partner and pray weekly for the victims IJM is serving. Third, and very critically, readers can help pay for the justice the poor cannot afford by contributing to the work of IJM. They can do this online at our website. While on our website they can also check out careers with IJM and learn about booking an IJM speaker at their church or attending an IJM event in their area.