Kevin Austin

Kevin Austin

Kevin Austin, D.Min., is a Free Methodist elder who serves as the director of the Set Free Movement and a missionary working to end modern-day slavery. He is the author of “Set Free: A Guide To Pursuing Liberation in an Age of Bondage,” which can be purchased through the Light + Life Bookstore at

By Kevin Austin

How do we respond to the tragedies around us?

An estimated 80% of minors in the sex trade in Seattle were at one time in the child welfare system. At least 40 million men, women and children are slaves. Experts tell us that there are 150 million homeless people in our world. Other tragedies include racism and domestic violence. The list goes on and on.

We might be tempted to throw our hands in the air and say, “It’s just too big! What can one person do?” Actually, one person can do a lot. With God as our enduring guide and helper, each of us can be agents of hope and healing.

Our bishops recently cast a compelling fivefold vision: The Free Methodist Way. Looking at the second of the five, Love-Driven Justice, is insightful. The three words are important.


Kelly and Lauren lead a ministry to women in strip clubs in Canfield, Ohio. They give non-transactional care in the forms of food, kind words and small gifts. One of the surprises has been that the men in the strip clubs, including bouncers, have also been drawn to the flame of God’s all-consuming love and have eagerly asked for prayer. Kelly and Lauren invite the men out to the parking lot to receive God’s grace from the male participants in the ministry who’ve been praying while the women are inside.

Love is the compelling force for justice work. Love is given freely to the victims, the perpetrators and the users. Everyone is broken. Everyone needs healing. No one can stand in judgment and condemnation. Love is an E-motion. It is E(nergy in) motion. It moves us.

Jesus is our primary model. He loved. Even from the cross, He forgave and loved. We are convicted and compelled by this love.

The Free Methodist Way states: Love is the way we demonstrate God’s heart for justice by valuing the image of God in all men, women, and children, acting with compassion toward the oppressed, resisting oppression, and stewarding Creation.


Chance and Dee Dee Galloway, missionaries to Bulgaria, are driven in good, holy ways. The obstacles to success are enormous: crushing poverty, overt racism against the Roma people, religious suspicion of non-Orthodox churches, and more. But God is breaking through the barriers. Over the past two years, the Galloways and other missionaries have partnered strong with the national leadership to plant 19 churches in three countries, start an agricultural project, disciple hundreds of new leaders, and launch the St. John’s Home to protect vulnerable young women from human trafficking. The Galloways and others in Bulgaria are relentless with loving action.

Not only have they helped accomplish great things, but how they’ve engaged has been important. They are humble, loving and generous. A holistic approach is taking place. The lost are being found. Racial reconciliation is happening. New church plants are practicing justice in many ways while bringing hope and healing to broken communities.

Isaiah challenges the people:

“Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow” (1:17).

Learn, seek, defend, take up, and plead — five actions.

To be driven means to be “highly motivated, urgently pursuing action,” according to Webster’s Dictionary. It means, taking it to the streets with relentless Christ-centered, Spirit-led, prayer-filled, hope-infused action for the glory of God.

The Free Methodist Way states: We devote ourselves to our founders’ deep convictions around matters of injustice as they took their stand against the evils of slavery, the oppression of the poor, the marginalization of women, and the abuse of power in the church. Our heart for justice continues and expands today, fueled by God’s holy love for the unborn, the vulnerable, oppressed, marginalized, and people of all races and ethnicities.


Justice means “to make right.” It is tied to relational well-being. It is neighbors caring for neighbors, fair systems, and people reconciled with God and each other. “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Justice is a key component in shalom: peace, joy, abundance, well-being.

Matt, Amber, Tammy and others have been working for justice for 10 years in the Spring Arbor and Jackson, Michigan, area. Brokenness in families has led to large numbers of youth aging out of the foster care system without stable, safe housing. This results in youth being sent out of their communities to find housing or homelessness. It’s complicated. There are many factors. The Spring Arbor team — driven by love, frustrated by a long endurance, overwhelmed with the hope of the kingdom — dreamed big and God led them to open a home, MyPlace, for homeless teens. The goal of the home is to give youth an opportunity to live into their potential — to find hope and healing and tangible tools in order to thrive:

Neighbors caring for the neighborhood.

Agents of hope and healing working for reconciliation.

Normal, ordinary people working with God to bring about transformation.

What can one person do? With God so, so much!

Be encouraged by these words from Ephesians 3:14–21 — note the bold:

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Centered on Christ and united as a community, we have power — not just a little, not just much, but unstoppable, Holy Spirit power to do MORE than we can imagine. Note that the prayer is asking God to center us on Jesus and unite together. It is God who shapes us with love. It is with Holy Spirit wisdom and power that we are driven. It is in the name of Jesus that we do grace filled, hope-infused justice.

Let’s do this.


Kevin Austin

Kevin Austin

Kevin Austin, D.Min., is a Free Methodist elder who serves as the director of the Set Free Movement and a missionary working to end modern-day slavery. He is the author of “Set Free: A Guide To Pursuing Liberation in an Age of Bondage,” which can be purchased through the Light + Life Bookstore at