InterVarsity Alumni: Gary Haugen

February 15, 2007

Slavery is an ugly monster. Two centuries ago this year, after a relentless campaign by William Wilberforce, England ended its slave trade. Later slavery was abolished in England, and after that in America—following our bloody Civil War. And yet, even today, slavery is growing around the world. Gary Haugen is relentlessly campaigning against it.

Gary is the founder and president of International Justice Mission (IJM), an international human rights ministry that rescues victims of slavery, particularly those oppressed by human trafficking and sexual exploitation. IJM specializes in freeing children and women from the sex slave trade by bringing pedophiles and traffickers to justice. Last October a TIME magazine article noted, “IJM is a low-key, but highly effective, US-based anti-pedophile organization.” Gary has written about his work in two recent books, Good News About Injustice (InterVarsity Press) and Terrify No More (Thomas Nelson).

In recognition of his bold activities for justice on behalf of the powerless victims of slavery, Prison Fellowship last month named Gary Haugen the winner of its 2007 William Wilberforce Award. A news release notes: “Haugen issued a call to American Christians to celebrate this year’s 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade by not only honoring Wilberforce’s life, but by striving to emulate Wilberforce through focused activism on the enormous issue of slavery that still exists today.” The announcement comes just as a major motion picture depicting Wilberforce, Amazing Grace, prepares to open in theaters.

In a meeting with InterVarsity president Alec Hill last fall, Gary talked about the key role that InterVarsity played in his spiritual formation. “For four years, I was nurtured and fed at the Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship,” he said. “I moved from being a naïve and rather narrow Christian to one concerned about God’s greater purposes in the world.”

Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson said about Gary: “Like his predecessor William Wilberforce, Gary Haugen is committed to bringing public awareness to the ongoing needs for justice across the world. Through his books, along with IJM-hosted talks in churches across the country, Haugen is raising that awareness and calling God’s people to respond in tangible ways to the prophet Isaiah’s call to ‘loosen the chains of injustice.’”

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IJM vice president Sharon Cohn gave a testimony at Urbana 06, InterVarsity’s Student Missions Convention. Click here to listen to Sharon.