Refuse to Do Nothing: How a Movie and a Book Changed My Life

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"Hey, wanna watch a movie?"

takenI'll be honest: I almost didn't agree to it. In some ways, I wished for at least a week afterward that I hadn't.

But when my husband and I talk in the evenings, and when I'm actually awake enough to watch something and want to watch something (I default to preferring reading, in case you had any suspicion otherwise)...well, everything clicked that night.

So, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, our DVR had Taken (2008) on and playing in short order.

And I was haunted by nightmares and waking dreams for at least a week.

The premise of the movie is normal enough: two young girls go to Europe and are kidnapped. Dad's a retired CIA officer and goes to rescue her. In the midst of that, you find out a lot--A LOT--about modern day human trafficking.

Maggie Grace in 20th Century Fox's Taken

Credit: Maggie Grace in 20th Century Fox's Taken (2009) , Photo By Stephanie Branchu/20th Century Fox via Yahoo! Movies

And it didn't feel like Hollywood at all. It didn't seem like glamorous or sexy or exaggeration.

It seemed real, accurate, and terrifying. I resolved that no young girl in my life would travel that way without a contingency of bodyguards and strong young men.

That movie made a difference in my life, though I didn't fully realize how much until I picked up Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery for the Patheos Book Club.

Yeah, I agreed to read the book, but...well, I wasn't feeling passionate or anything. I was just agreeing to read. It's fairly short--under 200 pages with the endnotes figured in--and I thought it would be easy.

I. was. wrong.

Despite the fact that I regularly whip through books, I could not whip through this one. I found myself choked up after chapters, and the image of those young girls from Taken, the ones who were part of the prostitution ring and were drugged into submission.

refuse to do nothing I pictured the children who didn't know a better life, who couldn't imagine hope.

And, more than anything, I pictured these two ordinary moms changing the world, one small step at a time.

This isn't an easy topic. I actually haven't talked much to the people around me about its content because...well, not only is it uncomfortable, but I just about need to reread the book to feel confident about it.

And the problem is so stinkin huge, what difference can I make from my home here in central Ohio?

I love how Moore and Yim begin the book by writing at length about the abolition of slavery in the United States. That initiative was carried by women, believe it or not, and specifically Christian women. Without the women--who controlled what was purchased, who kept the prayers going, who never ever gave up--we may still have legal slaves here in the U.S.

This book is a must-read for you, no matter who you are. You need to know what you know (and what you don't know). 

Within its pages, Refuse to Do Nothing inspires both hope and action in readers. At the end of each chapter there are discussion questions, and see if you can read them without thinking (maybe for hours afterward, maybe with some actual discussion with the poor spouse who looks over at you while tears are streaming down your face). There are also action items at the end of each chapter--add the hotlines to your phone, sign up for email updates, tell a friend, watch a movie--that are neither overwhelming nor impossible.

I told more than one friend that this book has probably changed my life. And you know what? I'm not really happy about that. I was pretty happy with the way things were.

But conversion is ongoing, and social justice is something we are called to, especially as Christians. There are very real, very tangible, very actionable things we can do--starting with our prayers and with how we spend our money.

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