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The International Justice Mission - A never-ending Marathon
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By Ed Wilson - Executive director for International Justice Mission Canada




Children as young as 2 were rescued by authorities from cybersex trafficking during an IJM-supported operation in Manila, the Philippines in October 2015.
Since 2002, I’ve been running long distances for fitness and relaxation. Even though I’ve completed over 20 marathons, I still haven’t qualified for the Boston Marathon, and maybe never will. I’m not fast, just persistent.

The discipline of long-distance running has many parallels to the work of International Justice Mission. We step into a community where the poor are vulnerable to devastating violence like sex trafficking or slavery, and work patiently alongside local authorities to transform the public justice system so that the poor can live with the protection of the law they deserve, in freedom and dignity.

This is no quick fix. As Gary Haugen, the founder of International Justice Mission says, “The victims of injustice in our world do not need our spasms of passion; they need our long obedience in the same direction - our legs and lungs of endurance; and we need sturdy stores of joy.” Sounds a lot like running a marathon! Take the Philippines, where IJM opened its first field office in 2000 to combat sex trafficking and sexual violence against children. We didn’t obtain our first conviction there until 2005, when a man was sentenced to prison for raping a 13 year-old girl. Now, 16 years later, our Manila office has assisted with the conviction of more than 110 criminals for crimes relating to sex trafficking or sexual assault. IJM opened a second office in Cebu City, the Philippines in 2006 and, after four years of IJM’s collaborative work with local law enforcement, an independent study found a 79% reduction in the availability of children for sex in metro Cebu.

These accomplishments are like kilometre markers on the marathon course. Amazing accomplishments, but not the end. In fact, there’s a point in the race around the 30 kilometre mark where you “hit the wall” and completing the course becomes as much of a psychological challenge as a physical one. And that’s what we’re facing in the Philippines right now. We’ve accomplished so much in the fight against sex trafficking throughout the Philippines but we’ve encountered a new evil that threatens to destroy the innocence of children in a place they should be safe: their own homes. With the recent rise of internet access across the globe, the Philippines has quickly become a primary supplier of children for cybersex trafficking worldwide. Customers around the globe - including Canadians—pay to stream live videos and abusive images of children as young as two being forced to perform sexual acts.

So much is at stake that we must complete the course we set out on in the Philippines 16 years ago. We have renewed our commitment to the protection of children in the Philippines, and are calling out to God and his people for fresh resources for our legs and lungs. We can’t see the finish line yet, but we know we’ll reach it soon if we remain focused and obedient. One of my favourite marathon experiences is in Pittsburgh, where you don’t see the finish line until you round a corner with less than half a kilometre to go. Until then, it is sheer determination that keeps you running. But once you round the corner and see the finish line, a burst of adrenalin enables you to sprint to the finish. We’re looking forward to that kind of exhilarating finish in the Philippines, when once and for all children are protected from sexual exploitation and are free to flourish.

Ed Wilson is an avid runner, marathoner, and serves as executive director for International Justice Mission Canada, a global organization protecting the poor from violence throughout the developing world.

Like what you read? You can invite Ed to speak at your upcoming event or church service. Click HERE for more details.