I felt it may have been just me. Those same old tactics of divide and conquer, isolate and vanquish still work even after thousands of years. So yes… I felt it may have been just me: alone, trying to follow the will of God, meeting roadblocks, finding opposition, feeling lonely without anyone in the same capacity as I was to talk things through with. It's a deflating place to be in. I can still see me folding in on myself like a crumpled balloon. I was ecstatic to be at the Forum. But I arrived without much to give.
While at the Forum, another member of our Academy Session #1 spoke of resistance from her own family… someone else talked about his pastor claiming that the church had no place in the fight against slavery… another spoke of the difficulty in garnering funding for herself while pursuing abolitionism as full time ministry… and many more came with the same sagging shoulders as I, the same defeat, the same wounds after encountering people we all thought would jump on board but instead of support, we were shell-shocked in finding rejection, fear, dismissal and in some cases even shame. All of us felt isolated and helpless. As sad as all this was, I was relieved to know I was NOT alone!
Pastor Francis Chan was our closing keynote speaker at this year's Global Forum. After being made aware of slavery in our modern world, some conversations with David Batstone, and serious prayer, his whole life was turned upside down. He could not look at people the same way again. "We're either strangers or family; and since God calls us family, this evil is happening to my family," says Chan of all the victims throughout the world. "Don't let church people put out your fire. The church is a place to be 'en-couraged' — to be given COURAGE! Not a place where courage is to be doused."
Francis is a pastor. He is, in effect, 'church people'. He knows what we do to ourselves to block the work of Jesus Christ. We pave the way and then neatly set up cement road blocks with scary efficiency. But his point was to encourage the few of us there with a curiously timed message of determination. Once he and his wife realized what slavery truly was and how it operated in the world, they committed themselves to viewing victims as sons and daughters whom they have not met yet. Once they started viewing the millions as family, there was no way they could turn their backs on family. I could have cried.
Chan published a book recently. He and his wife decided to donate all the proceeds to projects helping survivors of slavery. His own church told them that they were being fiscally irrepsonible! That they didn't use any of the proceeds for college funds or retirement was a blatant misuse of their money. Well how dare they!?… the other 'church people' I mean. It was none of their business other than to be joyful that Chan and his wife were following the leading of the Spirit.
I snagged Francis afterwards briefly. On a tight schedule, he asked me to walk with him as he made ready to leave. We spoke of the situation in Canada and the need for the churches to be educated, prepared, and given a soft heart over the slaves in the world. Then he laid hands on me and prayed. Of all the moments at the Forum, the time in prayer over my nation and it's imminent need to deal with slavery head on was the pinnacle of it all.
God has a plan for Canada. God has a plan for Alberta. God has a plan for Lac La Biche. Modern day slavery is alive and well. We are a huge part of fueling the atrocity. And there is much work to be done. May the Lord Jesus Christ set us free from our apathy, our fear, our proscrastination under the guise of 'wisdom', and our condemnations. May He grant us faith, compassion, insight and the urge to put His kingdom into action.
"Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city…"