Activist and Catalyst in the Community
A Q & A with Sandra Morgan
Sandra Morgan, Ph.D., is a former missionary to Europe and the current director of the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California. She also oversees the Women’s Studies minor at Vanguard, where she teaches on family violence and human trafficking.
INFLUENCE: When we see the damage of human trafficking, even in our own backyards, what should our first response as church leaders be?
SANDRA MORGAN: Reactionary responses create problems down the road. Many times, a church will become aware of a devastating issue and want to jump in and do something right away. A lot of times that means doing a special service, bringing in a guest speaker, and taking up an offering. And then the church will wash its hands of the issue, thinking it has done its part. A better response is to create systems and programs to tackle all these issues, including family violence and human trafficking.
What is the best way to go about that in our churches?
When you combine best practices with biblical principles, you have a sustainable model. At the Global Center for Women and Justice, we work to give pastors a path they can follow in their own way that is biblical, ethical and makes a real difference. This is not an issue you can solve with a bestseller on Amazon. You have to build relationships.
“If you want to be effective in any area, especially human trafficking prevention, you need to educate yourself.” — Sandra Morgan
Where can we build the best relationships to address these issues?
They have to be top-down and across the aisle. Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 is not to go, but “as you are going.” In the same way, if we are to make disciples, we need to be building relationships. As you go in the world and connect with other leaders, find ways to create partnerships that are lasting and influential.
I have worked in America, Istanbul and Iraq with leaders from diverse Christian backgrounds, from the Church of England to the Eastern Orthodox Church. We may not agree on everything, but start where we do agree. Like turning a big ship, it takes incremental moves.
What role does education play in all of this?
The Assemblies of God has long been an advocate of higher education. If you want to be effective in any area, especially human trafficking prevention, you need to educate yourself. We provide training by way of Beth Grant’s Hands that Heal book, as well as courses on how to identify and respond to domestic violence and trafficking.
How do you see yourself as a social activist and community leader?
I really don’t, actually. I see myself more as a catalyst — charging and equipping others to do the action. Whenever we see an imbalance of power in the world, there’s a risk for exploitation and abuse. It’s not always physical. It’s often financial.
But Jesus’ leadership model is proclaiming freedom to captives. We all follow that model in our own way. Just like Elisha in 2 Kings 4 who empowered the widow to find her own resources, and just like the neighbors who offered up their jars to fill with oil, by equipping and empowering, we are helping others find freedom.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2018 edition of Influence magazine.