Kingsland’s Justice Ministry hosted our second annual Just Run for a Just Cause this morning — and what a fabulous morning it was. A total of 975 contestants participated in this community-wide initiative to raise awareness about human trafficking and the plight of the oppressed. People of all ages signed-up to participate in the 1-mile family walk and to compete in the 5k and 10k races. The parking lot in front of the church was a beehive of activity as participants pinned on their numbered bibs and laced their timing chips on their running shoes. The best thing was to see participation grow from 450 participants last year to 975 participants this morning. This is in large part due to the efforts of Kingsland member Kelly Isenberger and her team of volunteers. Over the past several months Kelly and her team have ironed out every detail of the race as evidenced by the success of the event this morning.
Our Just Run is designed to raise awareness about human trafficking. That’s why this year’s race featured a compelling wall of panels that stretched sixty-feet across our parking lot. Each panel sequentially illustrated the story of how young girls and boys are trafficked and how those who champion justice come to their aid. The final set of panels were designed for this morning’s participants to write a prayer on behalf of the oppressed. I was encouraged by the heartfelt notes and prayers that people posted on the justice wall. Many commented that this wall helped them to better understand why we must be engaged in working and speaking on behalf of the oppressed and those who have no voice. I am grateful to Susan Derbecker and her team of volunteers for the many hours they invested in making the wall a reality. We will definitely use it again throughout the year at other justice initiatives.
Those present this morning also had an opportunity to listen to a brief testimony from Mariam Kagaso, a child labor trafficking survivor who currently lives in Dallas, Texas. Mariam was brought from Africa to the United States under false pretenses and was forced to work in a home even though she was just a child. Although she was raised as a Muslim, she found new life and hope in Jesus Christ and was able to escape from the bondage of human trafficking. Today, Mariam continues to tell her story and to inspire others to get involved in championing the cause of the oppressed. Listening to Mariam this morning helped many to put a face on human trafficking. It’s one thing to hear that there are twenty-seven million people in the world today in some kind of slavery. But it’s another thing to actually see and listen to the story of just one from among the twenty-seven million.
We at Kingsland remain committed to the fight against human trafficking. We understand that this battle will not likely be won in our generation — but we are nevertheless determined to do all that we can to make a difference. And we are determined to equip and to pass the baton to the next generation. This morning, many people in our community learned about the plight of the oppressed. For many, this was their first exposure to the truth about a reality that they may never see — the dark world of human trafficking. My prayer is that each of us will make a commitment to pray for and to speak on behalf of those who have no voice and to financially support initiatives that result in the rescue of the oppressed. My favorite quote on the justice wall sums it up best: William Wilberforce said, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”