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Judah has been my pastor in Seattle for the last 8 years and is one of my heroes. I am honored that he would do this interview and let me photograph him for the Shoot The Skies project. His book Jesus Is, made the NY Times Best Seller list and if you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend it, no matter what you believe.
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This is 12 50mm f1.4 photos stitched.
Who are you?
I’m Judah Smith, husband to one wife Chelsea, Dad to three nuggets – Zion, Eliott, and Grace and lead pastor of The City Church in Seattle, WA.
Where do you come from?
I’m originally from Portland OR but my family moved to Seattle in 1992 to plant The City Church which I now lead.
What initially drew you into ministry?
One of the scriptures that has really framed my life is 2 Tim. 2:1, to be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ and for me that has meant to preach the gospel. I’m very fortunate to have parents who recognized my gifts and nurtured this in me from an early age – my Dad particularly always told me that people liked me and wanted to hear what I had to say so I grew up truly believing that and it set me up to be confident in my desire to preach even as a young boy. I’ve never really been passionate about anything else – my only other option was to be an NBA player but we see that didn’t pan out so well!
How did you first hear about human trafficking?
I think maybe I knew like everyone else in some sense that these kinds of things were happening in our world but to be honest, it wasn’t until the work of A21 brought it to the forefront for all of us with faces and names and stories to expose what is really going on – right in our back yards so to speak. The magnitude and reach of human trafficking became very real to me. I was at Hillsong a few years back and then Chris Caine came to preach at our church in Seattle, we started to dialogue and I just knew our community had to join in this fight and we have. We are committed to this cause and send not just financial resources but have also sent teams every year to join with the A21 efforts locally and around the world.
How did that affect you?
Well I don’t know who could be exposed to the horrible injustice of human trafficking and not be moved to action. As a father, I immediately think of my baby girl and the “what ifs” can really get to you if you let them. It was enough to move me and consequentially our church to want to be involved in saving as many baby girls, and baby boys for that matter, as possible – this is robbing us of our next generation and something has to be done.
How do you feel like human trafficking affects our society today?
Again, it’s robbing us of the potential of the next generation and I think when I realized all the different means and inroads that human traffickers use to get to our children, it really opened my eyes to the danger our children face – we are all vulnerable to this danger if we are not aware and ready. It’s so insidious but we must choose to be aware but also after awareness we have a social responsibility to take up arms in some way.
What words can you offer that would stir up readers to fight human trafficking?
Look, we can’t just expect someone else to do it and wait for someone else to make this go away. Yes we live in a fallen world and it’s a sad reality that our children need to be rescued and protected from this – but we, the church, have the answer so we don’t face this challenge without hope. Every generation has its unique challenges it has faced and we are no different. This can be conquered and the work of A21 on behalf of the victims – not just the safe houses but just as importantly in legislation and resources is just the beginning. This is a fight we can win.
If you could give to us one compelling, concluding thought, what would it be?
I’m convinced this is the church’s charge and responsibility to be part of the solution. The answer and response to this issue hasn’t changed – our hope to offer and the answer we have is Jesus. This is modern day slavery – let’s not ignore this injustice when it’s in our power to stop it. It takes collective courage and if we all decide to somehow do our part and understand we don’t fight alone – in the community of the global church there is strength.
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