Written by: Emily Pelley
Proverbs 31:8, 9 has profoundly impacted my heart:
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.
This passage has become a “life-verse” for me; one that I am seeking God in every day for His direction. I have grown up in the church, and have seen programs come and go. But what remains constant is the mandate on the church to care for the poor and to stand up for justice in our communities. I believe this is constant because it is in line with the character of our Amazing God to bring restoration and hope to a lost and broken world.
Over the years, God has impressed on my heart a passion for social justice. One issue that has grabbed my attention is human trafficking. The majority of my research in my career thus far has been focused on children in armed conflict and the impact of human trafficking in their lives and their communities. It was a startling realization for me when I learned of the extent to which human trafficking exists here in Canada, not to mention in my home city of Halifax.
Global estimates range from 10-30million victims of human trafficking- which is essentially modern-day slavery. The sex trade, forced labour and domestic service, child soldiering, organ trade- all of these make up this overwhelming number. The RCMP estimates that there are approximately 800-1200 people who are trafficked in Canada every year- a significant number of those victims are themselves Canadians. As our law enforcement and policy makers work to combat this crime, there is a role for us all to play in prevention. Helping to raise awareness about this problem, identifying what makes people vulnerable to being trafficked, and discovering how we as community members can do our part to fight human trafficking.
This is just one of the social justice issues that will be focused on at the upcoming Inspire Justice Conference here in Halifax. In partnership with World Vision Canada and the Halifax Servant Leadership Team, this conference will take place October16th & 17th, bringing together churches and individuals who have a heart for social justice here at home. The purpose of the conference is to inspire people in their response to God’s concern for the poor, the vulnerable, and the oppressed as expressed throughout scripture.
I am excited for this event as it is such a great opportunity to connect with people across the city who are also passionate about making a difference. It is also exciting to see the city-wide church come together in their mutual love for Jesus and love for their communities. Jesus said in His word that He would build His church and hell would not defeat it (Matt16:18). This inspires me to believe in His church- however imperfect and flawed we may be- and to do what I can to make us stronger and more effective for His glory.
I read an awesome quote recently by Francis Chan:
“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”
I am challenged by this as I am so often tempted to figure things out on my own; waiting for God to come through is not my natural response to a challenge. One of the main lessons I have learned recently is that God has been actively working in my life even in moments that seem ordinary, or opportunities that seem random. Looking back over my work, my volunteering, and even my relationships, I can see God’s hand guiding me through to the place He has me today. This challenges me to trust Him because He is a faithful God!
I am learning that if I want to walk in the fullness that God has promised me- if I want to see social injustices end, see healing in my city, see brokenness transformed into a glorious destiny- then I need to leave my comfortable way of thinking and living. When people disappoint, God never disappoints. If His faithful promises are our armour and protection (Ps91:4) then all we have to do is find our strength and purpose in Him, and our faith will be secure.
Emily Pelley (nee. Zinck) live in Halifax, NS with her husband, Travis. She is a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary program at Dalhousie University, doing research on child trafficking in situations of armed conflict. She is also a researcher with the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldier’s Initiative, located at Dalhousie. Emily is passionate about the fight against human trafficking and has committed a lot of her volunteer time to raising awareness and mobilizing people to stand up to this injustice. Emily is an avid reader of anything Jane Austen, and she loves hiking and kayaking.