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Keeping the vision for justice on the Central Coast

church, justice advocates

Written by Hsu-Ann Lee
Posted on 30 January 2018 under Recent posts, What others are doing.

On Mondays he goes cycling and on Thursdays he catches up for coffee with former workmates. Every second Friday he drives BaptistCare’s aged care bus. Then Saturdays are family time and Sundays are for playing guitar at church. In between there’s gardening, model railways and V8 supercars.

This may sound like the life of an ordinary Aussie guy. But Ross Young is an ordinary Aussie guy doing extraordinary things for justice.

Born in Sydney, Ross has spent the better part of his life on the Central Coast, and the better part of those years at Erina Community Baptist Church. It was here that he met and married his wife, Thea.

It was also here that he began to advocate for justice.

Ross describes seeing justice in the Bible as an awakening. Though he had been a follower of Jesus for many years, it was in studying a Bible College course on the Old Testament that he clearly saw and felt God’s own heart for justice for the poor and the oppressed.

This conviction led him to involve himself in church-based justice initiatives including Micah Challenge and Baptist World Aid’s Catalyst program. He has been able to draw on his decades of experience in leadership with Boys Brigade, and for the last three years he has been “Vision Keeper” for Justice at his church – around the same time he started engaging with International Justice Mission.

In fact, Ross got involved with IJM before our Australian partner office opened in 2014.

Already an abolitionist leading his church group’s campaign against modern-day slavery, it was no wonder Ross met IJM. He was struck by the theory of change that involves rescuing victims, prosecuting perpetrators and restoring survivors. It made sense that stronger public justice systems would lead to better outcomes for the poor.

“I felt this was a more holistic way to battle the scourge of modern-day slavery,” he says.

So Ross reached out to IJM’s Global office and led his church’s participation in the Stand for Freedom campaign in 2012. And when IJM Australia launched in 2014, Ross was amongst our first Justice Advocates.

Today, he is one of our most active.

It’s ordinary Australians like Ross who help prove that justice for the poor is possible.

Surrounded by the natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere of the Central Coast, modern-day slavery and global inequality can seem distant, if not unreal. The charming beaches, greenery and fresh air are a far cry from the factories, brick kilns and rice mills of South Asia, where more than half of the world’s estimated 45.8 million slaves languish in bonded labour.

Bringing that reality into the everyday lives of the Central Coast’s residents is a challenge that Ross has taken on.

The Central Coast Ethical Trade Expo is one of the key ways that Ross reaches his community with the message of justice.

The event has been running for eight years now. As a family day, it brings the community together with a jumping castle and face painting for the kids, and musical entertainment for all. But at the heart of the expo are the stalls that speak of justice.

“The motivation came from our campaigning against slavery and exploitation,” Ross explains. “We wanted to share the message of Fair Trade, ethical purchasing and consumption with our faith community and also our local community, believing that would make a difference in the lives of the poor in the developing world.”

In addition to stands from Amnesty International, Baptist World Aid’s Catalyst Program and IJM, the dozen-odd small businesses selling ethically sourced items raise both awareness and funds to support the poor abroad.

Erina Community Baptist Church’s involvement in justice doesn’t end there. The church also hosted a Freedom Sunday service in September 2017 by showing an IJM video and engaging in dedicated prayer for the end of slavery. They joined over 2,500 churches globally praying for freedom for the oppressed.

Interested in hosting Freedom Sunday at your church? See here for more information about how you can get involved.

Then in October they ran a Ping-Pong-A-Thon event, raising over $4,000 towards ending trafficking in Southeast Asia.

It’s the support and inspiring efforts of IJM Justice Advocates like Ross Young, and churches like Erina Community Baptist, that fuel the movement to end slavery.

We hope you’re as inspired by Ross’s story as we are. If you’d like to explore what being a Justice Advocate might look like for you, IJM Australia runs online training nationally. See this page for information about the Justice Advocates Program, including details on the next round of Justice Advocate training.

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Who is IJM?

International Justice Mission is a global organisation that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems.

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