Mimi Haddad is the president of Christians for Biblical Equality. She holds a PhD in historical theology from the University of Durham, England and an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Palmer Theological Seminary. Follow her on Twitter @Mimi_CBE.
Formed in 2006, the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution (ICAP) works to “unite, equip, and empower practitioners who compassionately challenge injustice and offer freedom to those being sexually exploited through prostitution including human trafficking.” This past May, ICAP held its fifth global conference—a five day event that welcomed 300 Christian workers from 55 countries. Aimed at building global networks for emotional, spiritual and physical renewal, what better to restore one’s energies than beside the glowing waters of Green Lake, Wisconsin—a historic conference founded by the American Baptists.
How does one spend five days at an ICAP conference? If you’re an exhausted justice worker, you delight in the 50 workshops offered by experts in their field. You also make haste to register for a free hour of counseling—provided every registrant. You spend hours sleeping or hiking along Green Lake praying, crying or even shouting to God. You drink in the daily worship, led by classical musicians on loan from Les Miserable, New York City. You grow stronger through corporate prayers and plenary sessions that are vibrant spiritually and emotionally. You found renewal through classical musical performances! You join the Oh, How I Love Jesus sing-along, as individuals pass the microphone to sing this beloved hymn in their own tongue, in more than twenty different languages. You smile as someone hands the microphone to a five-year old girl who has tried over and over again to reach for the microphone so she too might sing her favorite hymn. You remember that each language represents the many groups working to break the chains enslaving humans in the sex-industry. You pray for small children, whom the little girl represents, nearly 200 million missing from around the world. They are one of the reasons ICAP convenes–to knit lives together in prayer, advocacy and networking.
Prayer remained, throughout, a central feature. My favorite evening was during a plenary session… we were asked to stand and pray for those working in South East Asia. Nearly 300 of us huddled together, laying on those who carry the heaviest burden. What an honor it was to pray, country by country, in many different languages, for courage, funding, wisdom and God’s power. United in one Spirit, we stood in faith, convinced that God would hear and honor our collective prayers.
ICAP’s conference theme this year was “Delight,” an experience in short supply for those battling sex-slavery. Yet, with each day of workshops, worship, counseling, prayer and rest, those who had arrived hunched over, drained from their work began to straighten up and smile. They seemed younger, lighter and more human thanks to God’s presence and as corporate bonds deepened.
CBE’s unique contribution to this week included a resource table where CBE journals, lectures and articles were distributed at no cost. I also led a workshop entitled, “Bible, Gender and Authority: Ideas have Consequences”—a biblical survey assessing the value and purpose of humankind, created male and female in God’s image and recreated in the image of Christ—both creation accounts, in Genesis, and in Christ, God imputes equality of being, purpose and authority as their creational destiny. My workshop not only offered CEU credit to attendees, but also led to a larger conversation around a book project through the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, to explore theology and praxis for gender-humanitarians.
CBE was delighted to learn that our workshop and resources were valued and more than that, we might be invited back in coming years. What an honor to be included in this network of noble Christians who constitute Christ’s mystical body serving our wounded world. Driving home, my back was a bit straighter too, thanks to the care and investment of ICAP. As I made my way home, in petition and praise, I sang out loud in my car, Oh How I Love Jesus, a hymn that will henceforth always be a prayer for the enslaved children of our world. Join me in praying for those affiliated with ICAP, that God would flourish their ministries around the world. Sing with me, Oh How I Love Jesus, because he first loved me!