Kirk Cousins: How I Started Caring About Justice
The NFL star speaks out on the importance of #GivingTuesday.
Maybe you’ve seen the video…
A few weeks back, I left the football field on a pretty big high after a huge comeback win. As I walked past a reporter, my passion took over, and “You Like That!” was everywhere. Blogs, Social Media, ESPN—I suppose you could say my passion went viral.
When I was in high school, my Dad, a pastor, asked me to come to church with him on a Wednesday night. Now, our family went to church every Sunday, but it was unusual for my Dad to ask me to attend the mid-week service. But tonight was different as my dad wanted me to hear the speaker that evening, a man named Gary Haugen.
With clarity and conviction, Gary, the founder and CEO of International Justice Mission, explained that there are tens of millions of slaves in the world today. He told stories of people who are suffering incomprehensible abuse in brothels and brick kilns. And he gave example after example of people—many of them children—who are experiencing horrendous acts of abusive, oppressive, injustice.
Then, Gary explained what I (and all of us) could do. He shared that IJM is rescuing victims, restoring survivors and working with local authorities and broken justice systems to enforce existing laws. And he invited us to join in that work by leveraging our lives for the sake of others.
As we drove home, my Dad shared how the heart of God breaks over those who are experiencing the atrocities Gary described and how God calls us to make a difference. He and my mother, along with other friends were doing what they could to support the work of IJM. He said, “Your day will come to join in.”
Fast forward to 2012. Out of the blue, a Redskins teammate invited me to a benefit dinner for IJM, which happens to be headquartered in Washington DC. My wife, Julie, and I were excited to attend and listened as the speaker, Saju Mathew, told the story of Chinnayan.
Chinnayan thought he was taking a job (as well as a small loan) from a local politician and rock quarry owner. This, very sadly, ended up being a lie and Chinnayan was trapped and enslaved. Chinnayan and his wife, pregnant at the time, worked grueling days under the hot Indian sun, crushing rocks into gravel using heavy, rusty tools.
Escape was not an option for Chinnayan. Others who had tried were caught, tied to a pole, and beaten mercilessly. This was now life for Chinnayan—life as a slave—watching his family suffer and his world slip away…
Until some very passionate individuals found Chinnayan and his family and, along with local authorities, helped them gain freedom along with 35 others. Today, Chinnayan is a woodcutter and a leader in his community. He and his wife have three wonderful children. Their freedom is restored and they are living without fear!
Julie and I were deeply moved that night and decided that we needed to do something in response. Making a financial contribution was a clear and obvious step for us, and that response continues to this day. But I also wondered if God could use my platform in professional football to do something, anything, to serve the countless other Chinnayan’s in this world. So when I saw that people were really catching on to my post-game exclamation, I thought, “Let’s sell ‘You Like That’ t-shirts and give all of the proceeds to IJM.”
And guess what?
People bought in and we were able to raise money and increase awareness for this life-changing cause. Julie and I are thrilled and thankful that so many chose to participate in making a real difference. What a privilege it is to be a voice for those who have no voice.
And now, I want to ask you—is it your time to join in?
Would you consider:
1- Using some of your hard-earned dollars to lift others up today for #GivingTuesday. This day was created to give all of us a practical and helpful way to shop and support wonderful organizations—at the same time.
2- Help create another viral moment by letting others know how they can participate in making a difference by promoting #GivingTuesday on social media.
3- Ask God to help you discover what you’re passionate about and how you can be a part of changing the world.
Your participation will cause many to say. … “I like that!”