FREEDOM // A Personal Journey

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Letter from the Editor…

The following post is written by UGA junior Haley Blanchard, a special guest writer. Her personal story of freedom holds a powerful message of HOPE for all of us seeking redemption for those enslaved all over the world. To understand freedom in any capacity is to understand God’s heart to end human trafficking, so I am excited for you to read Haley’s incredible testimony of His faithfulness to free her.

// photo by Gabriella Audi //

Freedom is a word that has been on my heart a lot in the past couple days –I think because I recently stepped into it for the first time. I went most of my life, almost 20 years to be exact, thinking that I knew what the word freedom meant, but in actuality I had accepted a cheapened version of the word that lacked the weight and splendor that the word actually carries.

The freedom that I have come to know and delight in wasn’t freedom that pertained to physical captivity, but rather it was a freeing of my mind. For almost 20 years, I was slave to a mental illness called OCD.

For those of you who don’t know, OCD is a sickness that causes you to have what are called irrational thoughts or obsessions. These are basically lies that with your whole being your brain believes to be true. These obsessions lead you to perform what is known as a compulsion, which is basically an action that is taken to counteract the anxiety that the obsessions cause you to feel. Put very simply, during my struggle with OCD I was a prisoner to my own thoughts and the actions that I thought would bring me relief were actually just shackles that kept me chained to fear and anxiety.

Recently, the Lord provided a lot of healing and in short performed a miracle in my life by giving me a new brain (I really believe it). I didn’t do anything to deserve this and fully believe this is a testament of The Lord’s kindness and great love for His children. Walking in this freedom that He so mercifully gave me has changed my life.

As beautiful and full as walking in freedom is, I believe that we are called to more. We should hunger for others to experience freedom as well. Jesus hungers for freedom for His people, so we should hunger for it too. Jesus died so that we could be set free. He loves freedom.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

If it is not reason enough to hunger for the freedom of others simply because Jesus does, we should because we have been called to it. As believers, Jesus actually commands us to fight for freedom and liberty.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1

I believe in the mission of BTS and really hold it close to my heart because I know the pain of living a life without freedom is not what Jesus intended for any of His children.

It breaks every single part of my heart to think that there are 20 to 30 million people who are enslaved to sex trafficking and are not fully experiencing the freedom that The Lord yearns for them to have.

It is my hope that we would be a generation that rises up to fight for the things the The Lord believes in—that we would approach the Lord with boldness every day asking him to release freedom on those who live in captivity and that we would believe that freedom exists for every single one of the more than 20 million that are forced to live without it right now. Let’s be freedom fighters!

Breaking the Shackles