Young people today have an amazing passion for social justice – they’re willing to step up and create change, driven by the desire to make the world a fairer and better place. Whether it’s campaigning for racial justice or taking action against climate change, Gen Z are tireless in their efforts to turn their values into actions and convince others to do the same.
Deloitte’s most recent annual survey of young people found that they are ‘tired of waiting for change to happen and are taking action’, with over half of young people surveyed having advocated online about social justice issues, and over a quarter advocating to their government representatives. For young people who follow Jesus, an important part of discipleship is discovering how the drive towards social justice can be intimately woven into their relationship with him. God’s heart for justice is a key theme of scripture, and he calls his people to be a people of justice, telling us in Psalm 82 to “Learn to do right. Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”
Engaging the justice generation
So how can youth workers help young people as they follow God’s call to pursue justice? Youthscape has teamed up with International Justice Mission (IJM), an organisation inspired by Christian faith, to launch The Freedom Challenge, an escape-room style adventure for young people which explores one of the greatest injustices of our world today: the fact that over 40 million people are trapped in slavery. The Freedom Challenge provides everything youth workers need to create a fully immersive escape room experience, where teams can work together to complete a series of puzzles and challenges across five different rooms, as well as follow-on sessions giving scriptural insights to help young people reflect on what they’ve learned, and practical action they can take to support IJM’s work stopping slavery.
There’s never been a better time for young people to get involved in the movement to end slavery, because the effects of the pandemic and climate change – amongst other factors – are putting more people at risk than ever before. Around the world, over forty million people are being forced to work in brick kilns, fishing boats and brothels – to give just a few examples of the many forms slavery can take. Slavery is very much an issue affecting young people, as one in four people in slavery is a child.
Change is possible
And yet, change is possible. IJM has seen reductions in slavery of up to 86% in areas where it works, by partnering with authorities to pursue systemic change. Young people around the world are already raising their voices against slavery – led by those who have experienced slavery themselves. The Freedom Challenge tells the story of one of these survivor leaders, a young man named Godwin. Godwin was a teenager when he was tricked into exploitative work in the fishing industry on Ghana's Lake Volta, unable to return to his family and kept out of school. After being found by Ghanaian police – with support from IJM – Godwin courageously volunteered to return to the lake to help identify other victims. Ultimately, more than 20 children were brought to safety because of Godwin. Today, he's a passionate advocate for the anti-slavery movement, and is sharing his story in the hopes it will bring freedom to even more people.
Through following the lead of survivors like Godwin and putting faith into action, IJM believes that Gen Z could be the generation to finally end slavery for good – and The Freedom Challenge is the first step on that journey.
The Freedom Challenge is available to purchase here.