Kid Abolitionists

Sometimes a couple of imperfect families can get together and creatively do what they can with what they have to give voice to his work in the world.

One day I was having lunch with Heidi, my friend who helped me start a boys’ book club this summer. She and I  were talking about Jesus, justice, kids, and what movie we might watch next. She asked if I had received the recent mailing from International Justice Mission, the one about the boys in Ghana who are enslaved working on fishing boats at Lake Volta. She spoke of their stories of violence and entrapment. We decided we would tell the book club boys about these boys from Ghana, many the same age they are – four years old and up.

Later that afternoon I got my mail and saw the heartbreaking photos and read the story of the investigation which is leading IJM to open a new office in Ghana, specifically to address child slavery in the Lake Volta fishing industry. I wondered how we could explain this to the book club kids and also how we could share this story more broadly with others who support our book club kids and love justice.

Enter the Lawson family.

Julianna Lawson is a lovely, grace-filled, and creative woman I’ve known since we were small girls. As we have grown up and become mothers, we have discovered an uncanny number of things in common. One thing we do NOT have in common is a love for dressing in costume.

(One time a mutual friend of ours was hosting an event in her home and asked each of us, separately, if we would like to help serve tea to her guests. Dressing in victorian-era costume was optional. I think I responded with an open mouth look of horror. Julianna was delighted to oblige and probably began planning her ensemble immediately.)

Jamie Lawson went to Haiti with John this year, partly to document some of the stories of God’s work in Haiti. He has a video production company.

Julianna’s love of costume and script, plus her husband’s videography work, plus their houseful of kids who also have a creative, sometimes theatrical flare, naturally led my mind to them when I thought of telling the story of Ghana’s boys through a kid-friendly, kid-produced video. Following the Haiti trip we had already been in conversation about bringing our families together, so this seemed like a good match.

The Lawson crew came over on a Saturday and we got to work, getting props ready, setting up equipment, and getting cozy with one another. Two Kellar boys also came over for much-needed boy shadow roles.


The kids each had a part to play and followed directions with alacrity.


We all got to experience firsthand the long, boring work of doing justice. Just as the IJM investigators at Lake Volta probably spent long days waiting and watching in the sweltering heat, our kids spent hours together, waiting, speaking lines again and again, quietly sitting between turns, and walking back and forth or posed awkwardly behind a screen, with a bright light heating the upstairs room like an African sun. The Lawsons also had the tedious work of editing hours of audio and video footage ahead of them. Perhaps unlike IJM investigators, our crew enjoyed Hansen’s soda, pizza, and chocolate chip cookies for refreshment when needed.



The day was fun and fulfilling in the way that working together for a common cause can be. The only disappointment was that poor Jack spent the whole day curled up bed, quite sick. It was difficult for me to bear his absence from the project. He would have been such a cute shadow boy, and I wished he could have experienced the process.

I hope you enjoy the finished video project that our Kid Abolitionists and their justice-loving parents created. It has been a helpful tool for explaining an example of modern day slavery to the moms and kids at our book clubs. We pray that this small offering brings justice a little closer for Ghana’s boys.


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