Friday 15 July
Danielle Strickland is an officer in the Salvation Army in Los Angeles who has served the marginalised for over 20 years and is an ambassador for Stop the Traffik. She spoke at the Evening Celebration on the final night of #Sligo16. Here VOX editor Ruth Garvey-Williams brings a summary of what she had to say.
It has been such a joy to be here. This conference has been like an endless all-you-can-eat banquet of God’s word. And when we feast on God’s banquet it has no calories at all!
The scriptures say that we have everything we need. When we cry out “More” we are asking God to increase our spiritual capacity so we can expect and accept more from God. He is so good and He is never going to let us down.
This year, I’ve been immersing myself in the freedom God has for His people. Over the last 20 years, I’ve been a student of slavery and freedom as I’ve been working against human trafficking and seeing people set free from slavery, addiction and other systemic bondages.
Every person is born to be free. I went with Compassion to Haiti and met my sponsor child. Haiti was a French colony with 700,000 slaves. Then suddenly one of the slaves had this thought, “Maybe I wasn’t born to be a slave.” Someone did a head count and realised that there were 700,000 slaves and 200,000 slave masters. They took their own freedom. They were the first black republic in the world.
But when I went to Haiti I was disappointed because I encountered so much oppression. I encountered extreme poverty, which is a terrible slave master. I encountered political corruption. I encountered Haitian children being enslaved by other Haitians. How is it possible that the cycle of slavery and oppression never seems to come to an end?
Many things that are meant to be good become oppressive. Something has to change. Why do these cycles of bondage keep coming back in our lives again and again?
Christ has come to set us free!
Galatians 5:1 says: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
Is this for real? Has Jesus really come to set us free? It is not some spiritual bumper sticker.
Jesus is telling the truth! We need to take that freedom and making it real in our lives. Standing in that freedom that we don’t slip back into old patterns and become oppressed by a different master.
So easily we slip back into old patterns. This is God’s word… stay free. Don’t be subject to oppression. Four steps to freedom:
Believe it is possible
We need to come out of agreement with the enemy and into agreement with the enemy. We say things like, “It is too hard for us.” Come into agreement with the purposes of God. He means what He says. He can do what He says.
Stop being afraid
Christians are so afraid. We’re afraid of our future. We are afraid of the political climate. Here’s something God started to teach me in Exodus chapter one. The Israelites were welcomed into Egypt as guests. Eventually it goes from this incredible blessing to an oppressive system. Fear is the currency of oppression. If you are allowing fear to dictate your life, you will either be oppressed or your will be an oppressor. Invite the presence of Jesus into your every day life, right where your fear is… not avoiding your fear but facing it with Jesus. Perfect love drives out fear.
Freedom starts NOW and it starts with YOU
Jesus is eternal. When is the day of salvation? Today. When it comes to freedom, it always starts right now and with you. This is how freedom works. Whatever that oppression is, today is the day. Always now is the time to start. Whatever that thing you are putting off. Freedom delayed is freedom denied. There is an incredible movie called “Twelve Years a Slave”. It is a fascinating movie to help understand how oppression works. Now is the most opportune time to be free, right now. This is the last night of this conference. Today is the day. This is the opportunity.
When Rosa Parks refused to get off her seat. A reporter interviewed her and asked, “What happened? Why now?” She answered, “I was tired of giving in to oppression. I had believed that the more I gave in, it would get easier but I realised that every time I give in to oppression, the oppression gets worse.”
Never, ever, ever give up!
The freedom God has given us is for the long haul. Never give up! This principle in our lives and churches and our nations is to never give up. The enemy would whisper in your ear, “Just quit… it’s not going to happen… what’s the point.” The key to freedom is just to keep on going!
You were born to be free. Christ is in the business of freedom. Stand firm then and let nothing move you. Let freedom reign and this will happen as you begin to live this out in a pattern. Freedom is catchy. When things happen for real life, people get set free. It is not too late and it is not too hard.