By Kimberly Yim
I am an abolitionist.
Three years ago I would have never said this. I, like my 8 year-old daughter, thought slavery was abolished hundreds of years ago. I knew injustices occurred and that there was still a problem of inequality and racism woven into our nation's fabric, but I had no idea that millions - a well accepted estimate of over 27 million - are currently enslaved in our world today.
Three years ago my son was just starting kindergarten and my daughter was in third grade. I was entrenched in suburban motherhood - grocery shopping, playdates, workouts at the gym, and coffee with friends. A certain undertone of restlessness within my soul finally rose up and refused to be ignored and suddenly no gym class, book club, girls weekend or family game night could remedy the heartbreak my soul was experiencing over the realities of modern-day slavery. It changed everything.
I devoured every book I found and signed up to receive email updates from nonprofits on the front lines of rescue and rehabilitation. While my anger boiled over the horrors of injustice, hope also began to whisper as history pointed to the action of women hundreds of years ago who changed the cultural norm. With limited education and little influence outside the walls of their homes, these women patiently, fervently and creatively began to push back, calling for the end of slavery.
I also found like-minded friends who could share my heartbreak. I connected with a small group of local women, as well as with my old college friend, Shayne Moore, who would eventually become the coauthor of a book about finding your power to create change, in this case for modern-day slavery. Having trusted friends gave my wobbling feet security as we stepped out together, using our own voices to make a difference.
My influence started slowly - one conversation at a time, one invitation at a time. While I was unsure of the difference each step was making, momentum began to build and I saw firsthand the power of collective action.
Like the women of the first abolitionist movement, we too have the power to create change, even for issues as looming as modern-day slavery. Here are some actions you can take to influence your world for change:
Be aware. We need to understand and educate ourselves about the realities of injustice in our world.
Pray. Everyone who works directly on behalf of the most vulnerable in our world acknowledges that divine intervention is necessary to shed light in the darkest places of society.
Speak. We may not all speak publically, but we can share what we know with others in our sphere of influence, including neighbors, employees, kids, teachers, pastors and spouses.
Act. Action for change comes in many forms but could include raising funds, advocating with political leaders, speaking at your city council meeting, volunteering your time or sharing information at your church or place of business.
As a woman living in the United States today, we have more power and influence than any women who have gone before us. The problem often lies in that we don't always use the power God has so freely given us. Using that power starts with you and me, then in finding others, then taking action one step at a time.
The question is: how are you using the power God has given you?
Kimberly McOwen Yim is the founder of Abolitionist Mamas in San Clemente, California, and the coauthor of Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slaverywith Shayne Moore. She writes and speaks on issues related to human trafficking worldwide.