Just Where She Is: Hayley Chapman
Today, we find out all about Hayley's journey as her heart becomes broken by injustice, leading her to IJM and volunteering in the Philippines.
"If God has put something on your heart, pursue it with everything you’ve got. It’s worth it, I promise"
£10 treat: Coffee and a slice of the chocolate flourless cake at Gail’s Bakery.
Book on your bedside table: Er, ‘Bound to Sin: Abuse, Holocaust and the Christian Doctrine of Sin’, by Alistair McFadyen. Not your usual bedtime reading! But it’s been hugely helpful for my current work.
Dream holiday destination: The French countryside, where I can cycle, hike, eat cheese and drink wine!
Karaoke choice: Hmm, maybe ‘The Writer’, by Ellie Goulding? They love karaoke here in the Philippines so I may find myself regretting that choice soon enough…
Most underrated virtue: Gentleness.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you first heard about IJM?
During my year out before uni, I spent time volunteering alongside some incredible lawyers in Uganda. I saw a lot of examples of injustice. I met one teenage girl who had been accused of theft and had been waiting for her trial in a prison for young people for over 2 years. Her parents were both dead and she had no access to a lawyer.
That experience broke my heart over injustice. I realised I wanted to pursue a career providing access to justice for people who were poor, vulnerable or marginalised.
I think I just found IJM on Google one day at uni when I was researching possible summer internships. I remember sitting in my college library reading IJM’s website and thinking ‘Wow – I would love to do that one day.’
2. What was it about the work of IJM that made you take a leap of faith, to leave a comfortable job in the legal progression, to move to the Philippines and volunteer with IJM? Was this what you always envisioned yourself doing?
IJM’s values embody so much of why I went into law, I almost can’t imagine anything I’d rather be doing! In that sense, it felt less like a leap of faith and more just a huge privilege.
In terms of whether I always envisaged doing this: whilst being part of IJM had been a bit of a pipe dream since uni, I definitely didn’t picture doing this exact work. I never had any idea I might go to the Philippines. I also never imagined that I might tackle cybersex trafficking, which is a relatively new and quite specific form of modern day slavery.
3. Tell us more about cybersex trafficking in the Philippines and how you and your team are fighting against it.
Cybersex trafficking is when children are sexually abused in front of a camera and the footage is sold online for profit. This can be through photos, pre-recorded videos or live webcam footage. The Philippines is one of the places where this crime is most prevalent.
A particularly disturbing aspect is that the people who facilitate the abuse are usually victims’ family members, who are looking for an easy way to make money. Sometimes the online interaction leads the paedophiles to abuse the child in person.
The IJM teams in the Philippines track down places where this abuse is happening, rescue the children involved and convict the perpetrators. I am part of the legal team that assists prosecutors with bringing about the convictions.
4. During your time working with IJM, how have you seen justice achieved? Do you have any stories you can share?
I met a girl called Mary* last week who IJM helped to rescue from an abusive community. Her perpetrator was a neighbour that was arrested and has since passed away. Mary now works at a social enterprise making greeting cards that support herself and her family. She is the President of IJM’s Leadership Program for restored survivors, and she is a part of a core team of leaders from various organizations that are developing a survivor-led movement in the Philippines.
If you were to meet Mary yourself, you would not dwell on the fact that she is a survivor; she is an advocate using her voice to raise awareness about human trafficking.
5. When you are feeling overwhelmed the gravity of injustice, how do you re-focus and find rest with God?
Getting stuck into God’s Word and spending time meditating on his truths is absolutely crucial.
The issues we’re dealing with are so dark and destructive, that the only firm hope is the incomparable power of the cross to redeem all things.
It’s also been important for me to remember that true justice in the Bible is not ultimately about punishment, but about restoration. If I burned down your house, sending me to prison would punish me and hopefully make sure I didn’t do it to anyone else, but it wouldn’t give you your house back. True justice is about restoring what has been broken. We see this in the book of Job, in Christ’s resurrection, and ultimately in the promise of a new heaven and a new earth.
One of the amazing things about IJM is that because they also walk with survivors through an aftercare process, we see real evidence of Christ’s power to redeem and transform. We see survivors like Mary start new lives, get an education, jobs: a hope and a future. Whilst this is all still a pale imitation of what they will receive in heaven – as St Paul says, ‘For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror’ (1 Corinthians 13:12) – I draw so much encouragement and hope from seeing restoration at work today.
6. What advice would you give to girls who are making decisions about next steps, whether that be after school, taking a gap year, or changing jobs, to pursue a passion that God has put on their heart?
If God has put something on your heart, pursue it with everything you’ve got.
But I’d also say: don’t despise the quiet place.
In the Bible, when David received his anointing from Samuel to become King, what did he do next? He went back to tending his sheep. It would have been unglamorous, lonely and at times very dull. And he did that for years. He had to wait to do something he knew God had put on his heart.
But when David eventually faced Goliath, looking after his sheep had equipped him for the task. In 1 Samuel 17:34-37 David tells Saul that while looking after his sheep, he had to kill lions and bears to protect them. He also learned to trust God. The story goes on to show how both of these lessons help him to overcome Goliath. In the quiet and boring place, God prepared David for his calling.
I think it is so often similar with us. A lot of people who are doing something they’re passionate about have also put in hours of study and plugged away at other jobs first, getting the right skills and experience. So if you’re in the middle of a gap year, university course or job that doesn’t appear to be aligned with the passions of your heart, try not to just ‘get through it’, but embrace it as a way for God to shape you for the future.
At the same time, it’s important not to just tell yourself that everything you’re doing is just a means to an end. God wants to use you now, as well as in the future! As Christians, we have to hold these two things in tension. But once we understand it, it’s liberating: we can prayerfully love and serve the people around us one day at a time, trusting that God is also shaping us for more that is to come.
I’m excited to see what all the girls who follow More Precious go on to do!
*name has been changed.