“I was just looking at those trees today, reminding myself of the creative power of life. It grows and multiplies—that’s just what it does.”
I walked a Freedom Relay 5km in Edmonton last month. It was amazing for a variety of reasons: community (we can’t do this justice thing alone), beauty (one seriously beautiful day in September in these parts), justice (is there a better reason to walk together than to spread the word that freedom is coming?), and one final thing: Cynthia.
I started the Freedom Relay movement with my friend and partner in the fight against human trafficking, Jacqui Linder. We started it because we are both committed to everyday, ordinary folks getting involved and making a difference in their own local settings. That involvement and process eventually leads to seismic change—the kind of change that shifts nations. If you’ve studied social justice movements in the past, you will know that a small group of committed folks really can change the world. Seven cities across Canada hosted a Freedom Relay this year. There is room for a lot more! (Subtle advertisement here in case you missed it.)
Both Jacqui and I are committed to seeing the end of human trafficking in our lifetime, and believe with our whole hearts that we can do so. Call us optimists. Call us lunatics. It doesn’t faze us. We are too far into this fight to ever admit defeat. But there are some days … The days where hope seems to leak out of my body and I wonder if I’ve lost my mind. I’m tempted to resign myself to the seemingly unshakable position that darkness holds in our world. I’m lured into thinking that what I do doesn’t really matter.
But not last Sunday. On that particular day, I was reminded of how one created thing can lead to another. Everything that has life in it spreads and grows; it can’t help itself. For instance, I’ve got trees in my yard that my neighbor informed me are really weeds. No one even tended to them–they just grew so massive that now it’s gonna cost me an arm and a leg to get them cut down so they don’t crash on my roof during a storm. Seriously. I was just looking at those trees today, reminding myself of the creative power of life. It grows and multiplies—that’s just what it does.
Last year, the freedom relay was still just a baby. At that time, my good friend Dee and her adopted son (really her nephew) Brock decided to walk the entire 8km relay together in prayer for Brock’s mother and Dee’s sister who was being sexually exploited as a prostitute in Edmonton. Cynthia.
Eight kilometres is a long way for an 8-year-old, but Brock walked the whole thing for his mother. Dee has diabetes and a heart defect, but she walked the whole thing for her sister. See, Dee was once where Cynthia was and she knows the darkness quite intimately—but she knows more than that. She knows life. Dee encountered the King of Life and that changed everything from the inside out. Literally. And so Dee’s steps were charged with faith and Brock’s little determined pace was full of hope. And all those steps and all that hope grew life in Cynthia.
So this year, our little movement, our little idea of social change included a complete family. One that is growing, brimming with life. Cynthia joined in the march, taking a day out of treatment to match her own son’s steps and follow her own sister’s example of walking for freedom. Her freedom. But more than that, for freedom to spread. For life to grow. For this infectious idea of light obliterating the darkness to ring from every corner of the world.
“Let freedom ring,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. from the steps of a culminated movement for change years ago. And it keeps ringing today in the steps of ordinary, committed people believing for that freedom to keep growing until every person is free.
That’s what I call a freedom relay. Now, I pass the baton on to you …
Image credit: Helen Cook