This summer, we are challenging Canadians from coast to coast to get active and Just Move to end slavery. During July and August, we’ll follow justice seekers and share their stories as they run, walk, hike and bike to raise money for freedom.
In this interview, Elaine Au shares her journey and the goal of raising awareness and money for IJM by cycling 100 miles (160.9km).
Tell us a bit about yourself (anything you are comfortable sharing, such as where you’re from, your family, your work, etc).
Hi! I’m a local of Richmond, BC, having lived here my whole life, and now also serving my home community through my work as an occupational therapist. During the week, you might find me mucking around in a pottery studio, chasing pucks at the hockey rink, or connecting with friends over food or puzzles. Other times, I’m quite content being a homebody.
How did you learn about International Justice Mission?
I first learned about IJM through my brother, Eugene, who has been involved with their work over the years, from volunteering in different capacities to now working with IJM Canada’s Development and Mobilization team. He had the amazing opportunity to serve as a legal fellow at an IJM field office for a year, along with my sister-in-law, Hannah, and I also had the chance to visit along with another friend in 2017! It was so great not only to see where they worked, but also to sense the devoted and united hearts behind the work of justice being done. We were invited to join the team’s morning prayer meeting - a beautiful example of where things ought to start, daily. What was most encouraging was learning how rescued individuals are also supported through thoughtful and professional aftercare, with appropriate help such as counselling and skills training, rebuilding and sustaining a new livelihood, restoring dignity and worth. Now that is something of enormous value.
Why are you personally passionate about issues of injustice?
To be honest, I feel this concept of “doing justice” is still just a young seedling in me. I’m reminded of the verse from Micah 6:8, instructing us to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. (In fact, I still have kids’ VBS tunes with those lyrics running through my head!) It sounds like three simple instructions… but I’m only beginning to grasp how bringing rescue, healing and hope in brokenness is such an integral way of participating in the greater work of complete restoration that God is doing. And what a privilege it is to be able to partner in this! I trust that He will keep growing this seedling for His glory!
How are you ‘going the distance to end slavery’ this summer?
I have signed up for the Just Move campaign, and will be cycling 100 miles (160.9km) on July 20 to raise funds for the life-giving work of IJM! I chose to do an organized course through Whatcom county near Bellingham, Washington. I figured it’s safer to go with a pre-measured route, where there will be some kind of ride support and rest stops. And I have other friends who are also riding that distance with me out of their love of cycling.
What are your goals for that event?
To help the BC region beat Alberta in fundraising. (...mostly kidding!) ;)
And to take this opportunity to tell friends about IJM. Oh also, I have never cycled such a distance before, so I just hope to finish the course! I imagine it’s going to take me 7-8 hours to complete.
Why do you think it’s important that individual people take action in the fight for freedom?
Sometimes we’re not even aware of it, but I can see how one person’s action impacts the thoughts and views of another. Perhaps you have never thought seriously about modern day slavery before, or what can be done about it. But one conversation, one prayer, one donation, one piece of encouragement, one social media post… it can all add up to shifts in hearts, which will in turn breed more action. Then collectively, we can be stronger to fight for freedom.
What would be your piece of advice to someone who wants to get involved but is uncomfortable with fundraising?
Asking for donations is hard. But being trapped in slavery is much harder. Let’s be a voice for the voiceless. Even if you don’t feel you can fundraise at this time, you can still join a team and participate by starting conversations with friends to increase awareness about slavery. Learn together about casework done through IJM. That will be encouraging, and the impact will be greater than you expect!
Tell us an item from your bucket list.
I’d like to learn a martial art. Not sure which one yet, but I am drawn to the idea of an ongoing physical and mental discipline. Any suggestions for me? :)
An app mysteriously appears on your phone and does something amazing. What does it do?
It deploys robots that clean my apartment every day!
Do you have anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Join a team or sponsor a Just Move team today! :)
Update on Saturday's race from Elaine:
The ride went pretty well on Saturday --a beautiful sunny day, with the larger part of the hill-climbs in the first half when our legs were still fresh (whew!) My group of friends (7 of us) all proudly made it to the finish line! We enjoyed a variety of scenery including lakes and ocean, hills, Mount Baker, blueberry farms, dairy farms, lavender fields... and though it was a challenging ride for me, I felt so encouraged all along the way by fellow riders as well as donations that were still coming in mid-ride. Made all 100 miles feel so worthwhile!