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Wife of world leader in anti-slavery movement shares passion for justice

March 24, 2014 : Liberty University News Service

Students listen to Jan Haugen speak about international justice.

In honor of Abolition Week, Liberty University’s Helms School of Government hosted Jan Haugen, wife of Gary Haugen, the founder and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), on Monday, March 24.

IJM is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to bringing Biblical justice to areas of the world where human rights are non-existent. The State Department has recognized IJM for its exceptional work in this area. There are IJM chapters on college campuses across the country. Liberty's chapter was launched about three years ago. 

Jan Haugen speaks to Liberty University students.Jan Haugen told students they are going to be the generation that is going to end modern-day slavery. She explained that a revolution is taking place in the Christian church wherein the body of Christ is recovering its passion for God’s justice.

“At IJM we are truly seeing students, colleges, and universities around the world who are waking up to God’s passion for justice in a way the world has been asleep to for 100 years,” she said. “The God of history by the power of the Holy Spirit has opened the door to a very new day and you and I get to be alive to it, and we have an invitation to join Him in this new movement.”

She said she hopes this rekindled passion begins an awakening that leads to real change and justice.

“Church historians will write about this generation and this era,” Haugen said. “When they write about your generation, are they going to write about how you moved to recover the passion for justice after 100 years of neglect, or will they write about a quick fad that produced conferences, shirts, and websites but did not have any power in the end because the bullies, the tyrants, and abusers of the world eventually won?”

Haugen explained that justice work is not easy; it requires long and faithful love. But she said it is necessary to overcome the fear and oppression that affect so many.

She shared how IJM is making this commitment. The organization has hundreds of lawyers, investigators, and social workers that are taking cases of brutal violence against the poorest people in the world. They rescue victims from the hands of violence, bring criminals to justice, and restore victims to lives of dignity, hope, and strength. IJM supports local law enforcement to build a safer future for everyone.

“Our investigators are willing to dive head first into this pool of violence,” she said. “They go in because there are innocent people drowning in the deep that will disappear if somebody does not show up, jump in, and help them out — that is love overcoming fear.”

Haugen told the story of Ramen, a man from India who spent 32 years of his life working 18 hours a day in a rice mill as a slave until IJM intervened, rescuing him and 100 other slaves.

Ramen’s parents were working the mill before he was born and by age 12, he was expected to do a grown man’s job. Haugen said it took IJM workers 750 hours and 50 court appearances over a six-year period in order to free Ramen and the other slaves.

There are 29 million slaves being held illegally around the world right now, she said. The key to changing this, and seeing more rescue stories like Ramen’s, is prayer.

“Prayer changes things,” she said. “It changes our hearts. If we are to have any hope of seeing this era of justice, we need to recover prayer. The work of justice is God’s work, it is not our work.”

On April 9, Liberty students will have a chance to celebrate Stand for Freedom Day, a national anti-trafficking day started by IJM. Liberty’s chapter will be creating a journey into the life of a young girl before and after she has been trafficked. Students from the Department of Studio & Digital Arts will create pieces for an exhibit using a variety of media, including photography, painting, and charcoal pencil. At the end of the journey, resources will be provided for students to get involved in the fight against modern-day slavery. The exhibit will be located in the Demoss Hall Grand lobby from 6 to 9 p.m.