Listen to the podcast here –

Tim Nelson is the CEO of Hope For Justice and joins Anthony to speak about their mission of Ending Slavery and Changing Lives. Tim delves into the depth and scale of the problem and will help open your eyes to it before discussing with Anthony how important it is to start small in communities, ways to build bridges into communities and how Churches can be ‘relevant’ by meeting needs.

Tim also lets Anthony know why he collects Ginger Beer bottles. Listen and subscribe for conversations like this every month.

Be sure to book your place at LAUNCH RE:PLANT on the 3rd and 4th of October at ‘The Edge’ in Wigan –


AD: I’m so excited that today we have as a special guest on the podcast, my friend, Tim Nelson. I first met him at the church that he used to work for over in Bradford when I first came to Manchester. When we came back to Manchester, I came back 13 years ago, probably there for about a year afterwards. I wanted to look at churches that were doing great things And so I went over to Abundant Life in Bradford and the people there were really helpful. They just gave me lots of time.I spent a couple of days picking lots of brains and one of the people that I remember meeting in the Starbucks over there was Tim and he was generous with his time to help me look at the things that he was then doing. So we’ve known each other since then.But now Tim Nelson is the CEO of an amazing charity called Hope for Justice, which many of you will have heard of. It’s a global nonprofit which aims to end human trafficking and modern slavery and he co-founded it so welcome Tim great to have you on the Future Church podcast.

TN:Thanks so much for having me feel real privileged to be with you.

AD: So, that’s not a Bradford accent. Tell us about your kind of family background and just something about your kind of story.

TN: I grew up in as you probably tell in Northern Ireland. I’ve been in England now for the last 25 years. But my formative years were in South Down and then also went to school in Belfast and I think I grew up in quite a progressive family in terms of our our thinking and background I was born in and and brought up in an Anglican church context, but alongside that, my Dad ran his own painting and decorating company,painting schools and hospitals. My Mum was at the time Principal Private Secretary to the head of the Northern Irish office, so we were obviously a little bit more active in understanding of the political ramifications of what was going on whilst I was growing up in the seventies and eighties and that had a profound impact upon all of our family.
We were brought up with a view to – You won’t stay in Northern Ireland, you’ll you’ll go out and see the world. So, you know, my family were incredibly generous in allowing me to do that and moving over to England. But even just when I was 15, my Mom and Dad let me go traveling to Australia for months on end on my own to Malaysia and then Australia and then the following year I went with a group to Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil for 3.5 months so I really got a global view of the world and that really helped shape my thinking.

AD: Wow, I’ve just been reading called ‘Stolen Focus’ by Johann Hari and he actually has a chapter in there, interestingly enough about how parenting has changed over the years and he describes that, in the past, well I can certainly remember being allowed to – well my parents didn’t let me go to Australia – but they did let me go out after school and they never really knew where I was until somebody shouted it was time for tea and he came in and ate it and he went out again and then nowadays, if children are let to walk to the shops on their own chances are they will be reported to the social services for child abandonment.Let’s start there, do you think that that kind of permission to be able to think in those ways and act in those ways as you said as has how does that shape you now in terms of your thinking your ability to have maybe changed. I know that you’ve had different jobs and roles for instance. Was that something that represents an unusual way of thinking that you were brought into from an early age?

TN:I think my parents knew I was always quite hyperactive as a child. My Mum and Dad knew I could survive on 4-5 hours sleep even from being a two and three year old so they were quite willing to put me to school a year early. That meant I was the youngest in my year and there’s certain aspects of that, that means that you’re not the overachiever in sport.It means that you’ve got a certain battling because you’re always the smallest or the least in in the year and I know that that itself also has an impact on individuals as they grow.I think I didn’t fully mature until in heighten and size until I was in my late teens and as a result of that there is a sense that trying to work out where your places in the world is, is different and I think my parents very much were probably naive to what the world and the dangers in that world. There’s a singer who I like, Ben Howard, and he’s got a song called ‘Depth over Distance’ and within the song he talks about, how we all live within the confines of fear and I think for society quite often we don’t think a lot about where fear is, but we we try to back off from anything that would be at all a problem or an issue for us.I think for me, because we grew up in a place where you know, my Mum and Dad built our house that we grew up in and when they were building the house, someone planted a car bomb outside the house and luckily it didn’t go off, but my Mum had to check her car every day for whether there would need to be a controlled explosion carried out on a device under her car or would she be unlucky that someone would target her for the job and role she had.But it starts to change what you think about fear and I think fear has an ability to get on you and it changes where your confidence lies. So I think I’ve always grown up with probably very little fear.I’m not fearful of a lot of things happening, but I think from that perspective going out and seeing the world it starts to change how you think about fear and and also you learn a lot about yourself when you spend any length of time on your own, you get to know the really great things about your character and then you get to know those things that you need to be developing or working on. But I think it really helped me understand, the need for people, the need for community, the need for great close relationships. Not just everybody being your friend on Facebook, but actually having people that know you and know how you operate and to whom nothing is a surprise because they know you well.

AD: My father was from just outside Belfast actually, he left school at 16, basically joined the Merchant Navy, nobody even knew where he’d gone until he goes on a postcard from South Africa to his parents saying I’m alive, so you’re reminded me a little bit of that kind of. But he certainly had a wealth of experience from his travels during those times and I think it is great.Whereas personally, I was brought up here in Manchester, didn’t really travel, didn’t go anywhere, you can be in quite a small world. It was only really when I got into ministry that I started to some years later travel around and see the world in all its beauty, but also we obviously get to see the world in many of the pains since this is a broken world. Obviously that’s something that you seek to address.I know that Hope for Justice, has at its heart a christian ethos in to want to see people set free so where did that come from in you do you think? What’s the kind of story?I know that you were, Natwest’s youngest bank manager when you’re in your 20s and it’s quite a move.When I’m at the barbers, they always say, are you working today? And you say “I’m a church leader” and they look at you funny and usually for me they say ‘oh we don’t like church leaders’ and what all happened – then you tell the story and I say I was a policeman and all that’s a big change.I mean, these are the changes I know about – working for Natwest to working for a church and now as a leader in this organisation – what’s the story there?

TN: Yeah, I think it’s interesting because my ultimate aim of going into university and getting a degree specializing in technology was to be a stockbroker. I had three siblings and they all ended up studying law, they all ended up marrying lawyers, they all ended up moving to London.I was going to be a stockbroker and either go to London or go to Manhattan and when I got offered the jobs I got involved in a church in Bradford where I had gone to university and I loved the community, loved the people, we were helping a lot of people and I was heading up the students group. We were reaching out making an impact in people who, we had some students coming from China who had never even heard of who God is, let alone a concept of the cross. No concept of even God.

So we were seeing people set free and saved on a regular basis and I think that I saw a need to help people and decided to turn down the jobs in London and New York to stay where I was. I had worked part time for a bank whilst I was at University and I knew there was an opening for an advisor’s role, I applied because of my background knowledge and they offered to give me a manager’s role before any graduate training scheme or anything like that. So I went into that with a view to – this is a great job, at least I can learn quite a bit and build relationships and I just loved it.I got to meet loads of customers, loads of people and understand their businesses, build relationships and during that time the church had grown significantly and they had been interested in some of the business aspects and asked me to get involved and again, I was so bought in to what was going on.

I was giving up every evening and weekend to try and make it happen, got involved and I’ve been there ever since.So when I was then working for the church, one of my customers invited me to sit as an advisor for an offshore investment trust. They were setting up in America, I had a night spare in Los Angeles on that two week trip. A friend of mine met me and brought a friend with him who told me about the issues of human trafficking, modern day slavery. He was on the phone to a lady called Condoleezza Rice who was working for the Bush administration and he was arguing about India and on human trafficking register.

This is 2007 and he had seen kids in cages in Mumbai being shipped all over India.And his challenge to me was – you call yourself a Christian, what are you doing about this?

That there are going to be people in your city where you’re sleeping tonight and they’re calling out to God to help set them free and God is waiting for you to move. I came back to the UK and I couldn’t shake it.I spoke to pretty much everybody I knew and one of my really good friends was a car dealer and he’d heard of four individuals in Manchester that were looking to consider putting on an event and said to me – “You’ve done events with church, you’ve got a good background in operations, maybe you could help in this way”.And we both went over and I got caught up in the vision that was painted for what we could do by putting on the first event. There were 10 of us that got together to put on the first event. I got to name the charity at the beginning and the first event we called The Stand. We launched it in the December.

We called it Hope for Justice because we was linking in with what Andy Hawthorne was doing around Hope 08 and across the church community.So Hope for Justice and the event we called The Stand because we wanted to see people take a stand about this issue.It was really fortuitous because then the song, ‘The Stand’ came out in the March. Just after that we were able to capitalize on that and we pulled in favors from Delirious and Tim Hughes and other amazing people who would come and be a part of that first event that we did and that was the springboard to everything that we’re doing now.

AD: Brilliant, so you just described there something that grabbed you. You then talked about it, described it as an issue, but now on your website etcetera, I notice that Hope for Justice describes itself as a movement and it has been said, and I do believe that the future of the church is movements rather than denominations and so on. It’s about networking around common causes.The church started as a movement of people and it’s still best I believe when it is, so, lessons for us, lessons for me as a church leader – How do you build a movement?

TN: Well, I think we’re on that journey and so I don’t want to make it look like we are better than we actually are as an organization, there needs to be structure and there needs to be kind of order in what we do. You know, we have to pay people, we have to make sure that we’ve got plans that are robust, that we can work in partnership and collaboration, but I think the best part of a movement is that it’s not structured and I believe there’s a part where it allows everyone to bring themselves to to play a part and it might be more messy, it might be harder to control, you know, if you’re a control freak, you hit movements because you’d rather have everything ordered and structured and potentially you pull the life out of something when you try to over organize it. I think with the movement, you basically come to whomsoever and say there’s a part you can play. I think sometimes, you know, if I link it into the church, I think sometimes from a church perspective, there isn’t the freedom for individuals to bring themselves and I think where we used to be that you had a church leader who said this is my vision. I want everyone to build my vision and what I want to do in the local community, but I think with where education is up to and society and culture is up to now, there’s a sense that the individual themselves is coming with a plan or coming with an idea are coming with a part to play and it’s more important for the church leader to steward that plan and enable that plan to come to fruition – to water it, to help nurture it, to help them develop to disciple that individual, to help them get out everything that’s in them. And it’s exactly the same for Hope for Justice.

We want to try and have people come to us who have great ideas, great opportunities to enable things to happen and we want to be stewards or custodians of how we can help that move.I think for me, the the ability for us to be flexible, for us to be open and transparent and to be direct sometimes in the communications. Sometimes people want to do things that are crazy and put people in massive risk that we don’t want them to go into. But then there are those people who come with ideas and they’re not looking for someone to take the glory, they’re not looking for someone to over manage it. They’re just looking for the opportunity to, to dream an impossible dream and hopefully at Hope for Justice we’ve seen people like that come alive.

I think of a lady in the US. Lindsey, at the age of 14 had the idea to walk 300 miles to our offices from where she was to tell people about it. She raised I think close to $80,000 at the age of 14. If you’re overly structured, you’re never going to allow that to happen. 14 years old what? No. Maybe you could do something in your school, maybe you could do something and wait a year.

AD:Wait a year in Australia.

TN:Absolutely. But I just genuinely think if we can go Lindsey – whatever you want to do, if we can get your family on board we’re there to help support you and and see it grow. And I think that’s where we’ve seen Hope for Justice grow significantly, where, you know, it’s the coming together of many organizations now.We’ve had seven organizations merge into Hope for Justice over the years and it’s the beauty of that coming together because it’s all very different, but every organization that has come in has helped shape our culture, so that we benefit from cultures coming in a bit like old testament examples of the tribes coming together and when they come together, there’s a distinction, but there’s also a benefit that brings the whole group together.

AD: So much we can dig into that. I’m thinking from a church perspective, for a fellow church leader. Church leaders who are listening to this and this idea of the shift that you’ve described it from the church leader having to have all the answers and being the visionary. And that’s exhausting actually to try and bring the vision to everybody.I remember when I first started out in church leadership, reading a book by David Watson, a great Anglican leader the church who said – the vicar is very often the cork in the bottle that stops everything.

Everything has to go through that person. He was saying even then, and this was an old book then in the eighties. He was saying that’s got to stop.

I think perhaps through Covid it’s been shown that actually that doesn’t work anyway and we’re in a whole different ballgame as church leaders. But we’ve said over the years is that we don’t have to own everything.We want to get behind people. We don’t have to be in front of everything that they’re doing in order to be able to work with them. What are the ways that you’ve found that helped to engage people. What are the ways maybe for somebody listening to this to get involved with Hope for Justice?

This isn’t even so much as a plug, this is to give us ideas as leaders that there’s more. If all you want to do is get people on the coffee rota then that’s the extent of your vision. But you’re only going to get some people who really want to do coffee that will be a part of that.So as I’m listening to you, I’m thinking, what are the other ways we can engage?

TN: I think that the number one thing that a church leader needs to do is to wake the sleeping giant that is the church. Because I think there’s so much of what the church is that just sits idle because maybe you can’t play an instrument or maybe you’re not on the preaching rota and maybe you don’t have the time that you can commit to being at something on a regular basis and the more people I meet on an international basis to realize there’s commonalities that run across this where you have a small group of people who are making church happen, absolutely burned out, trying to facilitate everything happening to a standard.

Some churches have a bigger core group and the standard can be higher. Some people have a specialty because someone joins their church and they’re super gifted. But I think for me, I look at it and I go – the first stage that the church needs to look at is this issue of modern day slavery is affecting businesses and is affecting supply chains.So if you if you start to think about who makes the commodities that the church is using, the coffee that you sell, the t shirts that you buy last minute for a big event that’s coming up.

Or even just down to the the offering receptacles or bins or buckets or whatever you might use.People aren’t asking even the questions about the conditions that the individuals were taken care of. But there are people within your church context or if you’re a church leader within your church context, that actually in their church, there are people who are in significant positions of authority within businesses that can ask the right questions or maybe just maybe one of them themselves could make a massive impact in a corporation or a business that they’re involved in.I went to speak at a church not that long ago and on the Monday afterwards, this person didn’t come and see me on the stand or at the back of the church, they just sent an email the following day and said maybe I could do something. And this chap is a finance director of a FTSE 100 company, so one of the top 100 companies in the UK and he just realized maybe there’s a part I can actually play here.

And that’s led to me having conversations not just here in the UK but internationally with their operations to see what we can do to try and help remove slavery from their supply chains.

And I think it’s a real it’s a current issue, we’re starting to see legislation be enacted in different countries, but why wouldn’t the Church be at the forefront of something which is about protecting people’s lives? So the first part I would say is mobilize the Church, make them aware of aspects where they can bring what our God given principles of freedom to the workplace that they’re involved in.

Because suddenly then the Church becomes relevant to them because people don’t care how much, you know, until they know how much you care and in this scenario if you are able to bring in a something to your church context that actually is relevant to people’s workplaces, that is a pain point, that might be on a risk register that the companies involved in. I think it starts to change things.The second area I would talk about is around what people are doing locally within the community that church folk might be involved in. Because this issue, even around sexual exploitation is so widespread.

Online sexual exploitation is somewhere in the region of 2000 transactions a minute now happening for online sexual exploitation, this issue is 40.3 million people expected to be in some form of human trafficking or modern day slavery globally. We realize it’s in local communities across the board. So what is your church doing in that local community as a response to this? It could be prayer, it could be you connect in with a local authority or a police force or you’re connecting into an NGO.

Someone who’s working where you’re at to be able to provide a different impact and source to, because Hope for Justice is one organization, but we stand shoulder to shoulder with other organizations working in this field are not our competition, there are teams and we want to try and facilitate a movement and quite often that principle, I think is lost in church as well, where I think churches almost compete against each other to attract people to come.Whereas actually,if you start to think we’re all one team,we’re all on the same team trying to put a ball in the back of the net together, that fundamentally if I can help facilitate something happening in another community to try and see this shift, then that movement will grow and it will become a tsunami of freedom that will go all across the world.

AD:It’s very inspirational and I love that obviously. I’ve got to say what from my time in the police, I don’t think when I was a police officer that human slavery was ever really spoken about. I mean,people like yourself and, I’ve got friends who’ve been involved with this sort of fight in different ways, over the years, like Sara De Carvalho in a previous church so there’s other people too who we’re grateful to for kind of bringing these terrible things to the fore. But Hope for Justice’s mission sounds simple – to end slavery and change lives. I imagine, however, that it’s incredibly complex and something for many people may sound an overwhelming problem or sets of problems. So as a church leader, I see a lot of evidence of change lives, I’m all up for changing lives, but looking at that statement – end slavery – you just quoted some figures there about the scale of this globally and 100,000 apparently in the UK alone, maybe that’s the figure I’ve seen living in slavery.So my question is, is it actually achievable? And how do you go about achieving such a grand vision or a mission?

TN: Yeah, it is on purpose intentional that it is a big, big vision that we have gone for. We’ve not tried to limit the place or the where we’re trying to end this because we realize that modernist labor human trafficking exists across borders. This issue is now the second highest grossing industry for serious and organized crime. Somewhere in the region of $150 billion a year are being generated through this across what is forced labor, forced marriage, sexual abuse, and also connected directly into some areas where we see domestic slavery and organ harvesting.Those areas themselves are significant and each one is significant.But if I pick one of them, just to give you an example, they’ve now determined that in countries that have an organ donation scheme, organ harvesting doesn’t happen. So that’s where individuals are trafficked to take organs out of them. So,I would advocate for organ donation schemes in every single country that we possibly could have because we can end that aspect of the heinous crime of modern day slavery.

But I look at it and go every single one of those that I’ve mentioned is like a domino in every single community, we can have a robust response to this.Now there are issues that have to go alongside this and you can’t talk about the issue if you don’t talk about things like the demand for those people to use prostitutes. So at the moment in the UK and the US, it’s somewhat similar one in 10 men will use a prostitute at some time in their life, but there aren’t the number of women who want to go into being prostitutes to service those men that have that desire.So therefore people are groomed to go into that industry.

If we could tackle the issue of why men go and use prostitutes, then it will see a reduction in demand and therefore will see a reduction in the amount of women who are taken to be used in sexual exploitation. But I believe that although it’s a massive, massive issue that actually we’re now living in a day in an age where there is massive possibilities of change. So for instance, within labor trafficking, the laws are starting to change significantly Germany just before Christmas passed new legislation that will carry with it a 2% global fine for any company that has proved to be complicit within modern day slavery. That’s huge. So as a result of that German companies are now starting to change what they’re doing.

We have things called withhold release orders in America for particular locations and instead of it being innocent until proven guilty, they assume that there is modern slavery, human trafficking in it. And the companies themselves have to prove now that the companies they’re using do not have slavery within it were changing because society is changing. It’s not just good enough to say, I know the price and another quality of the government. People are interested to make sure that people haven’t been abused in that process.

So it could be the cobalt that’s in your mobile phone that primarily is brought from the Democratic Republic of Congo made from exploited labor. It could be you want solar panels on your home and the policy silicate,the majority of polish silicate is coming out of Xinjiang made by the wider population which is enslaved. It could be,you want to get that new granite work surface or fire surround, well it’s actually primarily coming out of quarries where there are – we went to one quarry in India where there are 30,000 families that are debt bonded to that quarry.

So when you start to know it’s almost like you’re through the looking glass and you can start to make different decisions but I think I think the the the massive goal to go for it, you know,it might be that I don’t achieve this in my lifetime. I pray that we would see it happen but I think we need to come at it with almost like a, in 1 Samuel, Jonathan and his armor bearer come after the Philistines and there’s one sword between the two of them and there’s a – ‘perhaps God will show up’ scenario.I think there needs to be almost from a Christian perspective, there’s something about that being a man – and a Christian man, that we need to not be weak, weak or wimpy or shrink back, but we need to step up and believe that some of these big abuses can be tackled head on and that we can see an answer to it.

So it is incredibly complicated. It’s not as simple as just going in and knocking the doors down of brothels and trying to drag people out. People build connections with their traffickers and things like Stockholm syndrome occurs. So we have to build bridges of trust. We have to be able to create a thought through professional approach that works in collaboration with law enforcement agencies. We need to make sure there’s not a spasm of passion, but long obedience in the same direction to enable people to be set free.But we know that it works and we know that with a thought through approach, it can work. But the current statistics just on last year, there were just over 118,000 individuals who were found and set free last year out of 40.3 million, it’s a drop in the ocean and we know that a lot more needs to happen to enable us to change this.And certainly with issues around Ukraine currently and others popping up, we know that the issues not going away, it’s actually amplifying, but we need to do more.

AD: Take a moment and let those figures sinking because each one of those is an individual, a family, a community. I’ve seen in Haiti kids with a little hammer and chisel chipping away in quarries and it is unforgettable and it should be unforgettable and then to make the link, I remember you came and spoke actually at a men’s breakfast recently at Ivy and talking about men, christian men there obviously, you know, because men and women have passionate for this. But you spoke to some of the guys in our church and one of the things that you actually mentioned there was about ‘mica‘ – not the prophet but the thing that’s made for profit in some ways in that it is a substance car gleaming and is also put on in women’s makeup makeup and you know, you’ve talked about how that is produced and then actually two weeks later I think it was around Christmas time.

We were looking to buy a present for somebody and my wife went to Boots and was going to go and get some makeup and I said – oh let’s check because of that because I didn’t know I didn’t know about it.So we looked around and said we’ve got to find something that hasn’t actually got this stuff in it and it turned out we couldn’t really find anything that didn’t have this ‘mica‘ in it.

So we ended up saying alright well we’re not going to buy the makeup for that person and we’ll have to go and buy a different present for them.

So I’d love to reference a book here, I love to reference books on the podcast. I mentioned one already, which I highly recommend – ‘Stolen Focus’ by Johann Hari but I’ve also just finished reading Dan Heaths book called ‘Upstream’. So famously it was one of the people who have been quoted as saying it recently died. Archbishop Desmond Tutu used the illustration that if you see a child drowning in a river you jump in and pull that child out, and then you see another child drowning and pull that child out. After a while you start to think – let’s go upstream and see who’s throwing these kids in the water and do something about that. We’ve got to look for more upstream solutions rather than just dealing with the problem. So we can be prayerful, so we can be informed. What kind of things do you think and you know should be upstream solutions to some of these problems.

TN: When we consider the issue of labor trafficking, it’s widespread, so I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that I’m good, everything’s going to be great in the products I buy. We find on average between 70 to 80% of all companies have some form of modern day slavery, human trafficking within their supply chain. But 70 – 80%! So if you look at the scale that this is for even supermarkets, we work with supermarkets on a regular basis but they may have 7000 1st tier suppliers and a small number of people who are responsible for ethical sourcing. And you look at products like you mentioned, ‘mica’ which is used in the shimmer effect for makeup, but there are products like palm oil, which is used across so many different products and it’s made primarily by slave labor. I think it causes you to ask different questions of the companies that you’re buying from, because if companies know like you’ve just described, it makes a difference, whether I buy this or I don’t buy this, then they start to make different decisions.

If they start to make different decisions, then they’re going to be for the benefit of individuals. And if they think they can sell more of something because people think differently, it changes people’s perspective and that’s where I think people have power within how they communicate.If you’re thinking about making a big purchase, it might be a car. It might be you going in and buying something of a significant value. I would always ask the question and I wouldn’t want anyone to feel condemned in terms of the products that they’re buying because it’s so widespread.

But to use their voice to start asking different questions, I think if you ask a different question, it then prompts people to believe that this is an important part of what needs to be changed and labor trafficking, as I say, is something that UN the Sustainable Development Goals is that by 2030 we will see an end to labor trafficking.That’s an audacious goal to believe by 2030 we could do that. But we’re starting to see with things like Blockchain based solutions that each step along the process starts to outline which companies have been involved.We’re starting to see big players coming into this marketplace to look at it and go, actually, it really matters because most investment companies have what are called E.S.G. Boards – that’s environmental, social and governmental boards.

So if they think that an investment that they’ve made is incorrect they’ll pull that investment even if it costs them financially because they don’t want to be associated with anything that’s being done wrong. And I think that’s what we, as Christians, as individuals, can do. We can start to ask the right questions. And if we find that someone isn’t giving us the right answers or giving us the runaround, don’t buy from them. There will be someone else who will come forward with a different idea that isn’t having someone exploited.So I think a key part for where we see is things like the electrification of vehicles.

So just for the UK and Europe, the need for an increase in cobalt production in the DRC for us to move to fully electrical vehicles, it will need a 30x production of cobalt at the moment. It’s mined primarily by exploited men and children that is going to lead to a 30x production. So if I was going to buy an electric vehicle, I’d want to be asking the question of where did the cobalt come from for that? This is going to be used in the battery of my electric vehicle. t will make a difference. People will register the impact that people’s buying power has because a vehicle is a big purchase and anytime you’re doing a big purchase, you’re able to influence even more so than you would do on an average everyday purchase itself. 

But I’d encourage everybody to ask questions and also wherever you’re at, politically, wherever your local member of parliament might be or your congressman or whatever world that you’re in where you’ve got a political leader. Why don’t you send a letter to them and ask them about what they are doing to try and make a difference. We’ve been working on legislation both here in the UK and also in the US. We recently worked with Senator Chris Smith on the update of the Frederick Douglas bill around the T.V.P.A., regulations which require individual companies to think differently around supply chains and and the the nature of training that needs to be carried out across businesses itself.

AD:Fantastic. I know you have been recently on TV over here with regard to, issues around immigration, and again you don’t want it to be necessarily political here. But there’s obviously been people disappointed, shall we say, with the government’s response to immigration, with regard to bringing people across from Ukraine and specifically, we’ve had the refugee problem has been ongoing, and we’ve had a number of refugee crises, one after the other after another. And Ukraine being that, you know, has just added on four million to the numbers that we’re dealing with. So it’s to some extent, while it’s easy to take pot shots at the same time, how do we target harden so that we don’t end up making the problem worse with regard to trafficking by that. Any thoughts around that issue?

TN: Yes, certainly, I think for me, government’s in a difficult place wherever you’re at across the world and I think the bible is very clear that we need to pray for our leaders. I don’t think we do that enough across the church globally, because the amount of pressure that individual political leaders are in to come up with answers to deal with, crisis after crisis or issue after issue. So, I would say, let’s start with prayer and try and undergird everything that we’re doing in prayer.

Last week, I was out in Vienna in Austria and met with the OSCE which is the Organization for Security and Cooperation across Europe and there are 57, individual countries that are part of that organization itself and we got to meet and chat with all the representatives and I had a moment to speak with the special representative from Ukraine, this is a lady who reports directly into President Zelensky on issues around trafficking and for three days we talked about solutions that governments can bring about to try and help reduce the issues of trafficking.

We know that when people are vulnerable, they’re more prone to exploitation and traffickers prey on that because they have vulnerabilities. Primarily the four million that you mentioned are are women and children who have been dispersed all over Europe, initially through to Poland, Romania, Hungary, Moldova, but actually now are moving more capitals across Europe and as people disperse, they become more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, people tricking them and and and finding ways for them to get involved. I think the thing I would advocate always for migrants is that there is an opportunity for a legal and fair way for people to come to a country. If you look at the issue with the cross channel deaths that have happened that directly correlates the increase and then directly correlates to when the British government stopped the low skilled migrant visa allowing people to come to the country. If there are major issues in places like Ethiopia, Syria, Afghanistan.

You start to realize that that has an impact upon people wanting to come to this country. As a direct result of aid changes, the budget for Syria this last year moved from £1.2 billion to £200 million. So as a result the amount of Syrian refugees who will want to migrate to this country will increase. As a result to that, it puts people into a vulnerable situation. I fully believe that we are called to welcome the strangers were called to help to the point that we possibly can. I think this Ukrainian crisis has shown how the Polish people have adapted to that where there’s nearly two million individual homes have taken Ukrainians to come and live with them, tells me that there’s a heart in Poland to make a difference. And it’s that heart that I think needs to be the first thing that we start with to influence politics. Because if we just assume that people, migrants are bad, then we build up an ideology against them, rather than looking at these individuals as vulnerable and how do we protect them?I believe that there is a part that we can all play in this and I want to try and support governments across the world as they try to help make a bigger difference.

Certainly last week, I was advocating with the French government, speaking with the EU representatives, the Irish government, about ways in which Europe can deal with this crisis even greater than we have done.I was delighted to hear of the cooperation that there is across Europe in condemning the war in Ukraine and actually starting to see straight away that the vulnerabilities exist now for traffickers and we hear reports of them coming through at this stage of traffickers trying to prey on innocent and vulnerable people.So I would encourage everybody to pray that those individuals would not make those decisions, that they wouldn’t go get in that car with those individuals trying to traffic them. But actually that we would find a way for them to come into a place of safety and refuge and as I say, for whether it’s the British government or any other government across Europe, I just want a safe,ordered and structured route for people to find freedom rather than to find a place where they move from one horror to an absolute other horror.

The problem that we’ve got is this is not going away quickly and the U.N. are definite that they don’t want to have camps operating because camps end up being there for decades onwards. What they want to try and do is have an approach that would lead to people coming and going back and hopefully through all of the plans that are coming through the the opportunities they have to work together collaboratively in this space. It’s going to lead to a huge shift in how people deal with trafficking going forward.

AD: Wow! Lots to pray about. Lots to think into and process there. We want to encourage people to be praying for you and for the work with Hope for Justice. I’m gonna give you a moment, in just a few minutes, if you were going to share a word of advice or even a word of caution with the church leader, maybe you want to bring that.But before that, I’ve got another question that my researchers have discovered, which is – I’ve heard that you collect ginger beer bottles. I don’t think I’ve ever heard if there is a collective noun for people who who collect ginger beers? My question is just – why?

TN: No, that’s funny that you find that out man, I don’t know who you’ve been speaking to. Whenever my brother and I at the bottom of where we used to live, there was a stream that ran through and we used to play there all the time. One day when I was in my teens, I discovered a bottle that had been there for 100 years. Ginger beer itself would have had the bottles themselves made of ceramic. Um they speak of a bygone era. And it just struck me that the person who probably carved up this stream was probably, you know, on a hot summer’s day with a spade in his hand or shovel in his hand, and was probably drinking something out of these ginger beer bottles.And there’s something about that that isn’t a mechanized process and is something that kind of evokes the quality that was put into things.

I kind of think they’re like the old coke cans that,that we currently use and who would collect them. So they’re unbeknown to me before that, but it is, it’s a real thing.People do collect them and they, some of them go for ridiculous money. You can buy them for just a few pounds in terms of where they stand, but they can go for hundreds, if not thousands of pounds. Thankfully, I don’t partake in the things that are a little bit expensive, but I just like them.I like the look and the feel of them and I like what they mean and symbolized in terms of these are their individual, small family owned businesses that were selling ginger beer at a time when water couldn’t be drunk because it wasn’t pasteurized properly. It wasn’t treated effectively. This was them protecting their families and they created these and they sprung up in small communities. They represented the communities and they put a brand on them from that local community. So I don’t have loads, I’ve probably got about maybe 40 of them, but they are from all different places and and I love them – there you go.

AD:  Fantastic, as we’re wrapping up. If you were to speak to me as a church leader or the people who are listening right now, we’re all trying to navigate fast-changing, ever-changing, volatile, uncertain futures with many seemingly intractable problems. What what kind of advice would you give somebody like myself or anybody listening or word of caution even?

TN: I think the first thing I would say is don’t rush to do something and and do it wrong. Don’t try and bring people on a journey that could inoculate them about wanting to help the period the weekend, the marginal list, because if you go and get involved in something and it’s poorly run, poorly organized and poorly orchestrated. It reflects badly on the church at large, and it will potentially stop people from wanting to do anything for years to come.

I think it’s better to start small and try and do something on a local basis, even if it’s just a prayer ministry. We talk about prayer being one of the most important things, but to genuinely actually be intentional about what you ask for, get to know the local community. If it’s from the UK, they produce ward area plans and so future church leaders, look even at the council ward area plans to talk about what are the issues, essential issues as to where they are.

So, you get to know the space a bit like Nehemiah, you go and you walk around the walls and you see what the issues are and how they need to be addressed and then come up with a thought through professional plan for your church. It may intersect with Hope for Justice, and anyone can drop me a message and connect in, but it as it stands, I believe, and going back to Joseph’s life, the blessing is never in the vision. In fact, the vision is is a bit of a curse because that’s the thing that got him sold into slavery. That’s the thing that got him put in prison. You know,it isn’t something that you desire, it actually gets hold of you.

And the thing that everybody needs to see is a thought through plan that can be executed well, because that’s where the blessing is.I encourage church leaders all over the world in whatever capacity that you’re doing, whether it’s modern slavery, human trafficking or whether it’s another area helping helping the poor,the weak and marginalized haven’t thought through and think generationally don’t do something that’s just a drop in the ocean that is almost as schizophrenic for your people but something that can be thought through based on what you’re hearing from God on your local community and something that we can play a part on. I would start with issues around training and education, I would try and have people be more aware of what’s going on, so that when their heads on swivel and they can see what’s happening in the local community, I would encourage you not to go rushing in and trying to break down doors on brothels because you need to work collaboratively with the local authorities and bringing them in on the journey to ask what you can do to try and help support them in.

The community will also help build bridges of trust. I think the church itself has so far tried to to almost alienated themselves from society instead of being an essential part of society. So I encourage you as you step forward as you start to do something start small, if you need help, advice, support, we’ve got lots of stuff available online,love to help anyone who needs advice and support.But on this specific issue, I think if you start to talk about what the issue is and how relevant this is to God’s heart for humanity and what we need to do as a church to stand up, we can as a church of movement, change society, so that we move away from what are the underpinnings of human trafficking and modern day slavery.

AD: Fantastic. I think you might have used the word relevant there, and I often think that these are issues around church relevance for a long time was thought of as being church relevant.Men, you had to have skinny jeans and a smoke machine, and you were trying to do anything in a particular way, and then that was being relevant, but actually relevant, literally, for me, it means meeting needs. If you’re not relevant to your community, If your church did not exist, who would weep, if it’s only the people who presently go to it, then there’s no wonder when churches are closing left, right and center and the only people who are upset about it are the dwindling numbers of people who used to go. Then that’s because they’re not relevant.I mean, around where we are, just down the road, the local swimming baths was going to close down. And the, and there was a furore about it. The people all around it was like – you must not close this building, this Victorian building.

But it wasn’t because it was a Victorian building, it was because it was relevant to their needs.Whereas just down the road, a beautiful church building closed and nobody complained or bothered. So, in many ways, these kind of things, if we can do them well and do them right, we’re showing that actually the church of Jesus Christ is relevant. We’re not just for singing songs on Sunday, but we’re here for other people who are going to make a difference.

TN: I fully believe that and I think there are people who wouldn’t darken the door of a church to here on a Sunday morning, but would come to an event that’s about helping the weak, the poor and marginalized in the community. I think it evokes something of a kind of heart that we all have to want to help and at its very core, we don’t want to see people in distress. So if there’s a way in which this is a bridge, I think we’ve got to build more bridges into communities rather than walls. I think bridges themselves, open up opportunities for people to travel to places that they wouldn’t normally be able to get to.

And I think if the church can do that, then suddenly we’re building so many on-ramps for people to understand how the church can help them in their community, because you’re going to build a relationship with someone who you know, you’re going to have to go to an event or you’re going to have to be introduced by someone to feel comfortable to attend.

AD: Yeah, wonderful. I don’t usually do this, but I think in terms of the some of the things that you’ve said and just sort of the challenge that there is for us in them, I just wanted to pause and pray,because obviously these are huge issues and they’re not tangential if you like to the church. I think often they’ve become that whereas they should be very much front and center if we’re following following Jesus and his agenda, even his manifesto, which he says. I’ll read this and then we will pray.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners recovery of sight for the blind to set the oppressed free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”

Lord thank you that you announced that as your manifesto and you want us to be part of it and to be fully invested in. Your spirit is moving to be good news for the poor and if your church isn’t, we’re not reflecting you. Thank you for the work of Hope for Justice to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and Lord thank you that through even listening to this people. Well I’m learning stuff. I’m having my eyes opened to the plight of the oppressed so that they can be set free and we thank you Lord that above it all you are at work in all these situations and we just pray that you continue to guide Tim and everybody else who is involved with this and those churches and church leaders to see where are you working and where do you want us to get involved? So that more and more of your people can go free. Thank you Lord.Like an exodus.

You heard the cry of the plight of the oppressed and and you said, I’m going to move, I’m going to get involved. I’m going to come down and I’m going to set people free.Let my people go so they can worship me. So Lord, please use us and help us frail and powerless as we often feel to be your hands, your voice to pray to petition to partner to do whatever we can.Lord, just as Tim said, come together and work for you in these issues like that. We now break your heart. Lord thank you that you are the God of freedom.Thank you Lord, in Jesus’ name.We pray.Amen.

AD: Okay, Tim Nelson. It’s been fantastic to have you on the Future Church podcast. Thank you very much for your time and for encouraging us so much. It’s been amazing.

TN:Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Be sure to book your place at LAUNCH RE:PLANT on the 3rd and 4th of October at ‘The Edge’ in Wigan –