Jennifer Roemhildt Tunehag works with the European Evangelical Alliance to develop the European Freedom Network (EFN) >>. Over 120 EFN partner organizations are now working across 28 countries in Europe to build a bridge to freedom for those who are exploited. Jennifer also serves on the Global Human Trafficking Task Force of the World Evangelical Alliance. She lives with her husband, Mats, in Stockholm, Sweden.
What is your main focus in ministry and why you are passionate about it?
For the last 15 years, I have been involved in ministry among women and men who are sexually exploited in prostitution and trafficking.
When Jesus announced his own public ministry in Luke 4, he used the words of Isaiah:
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 and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
My joy and calling has been to take the good news of the gospel to those on the margins of society and the fringes of the Church—those who are despised, outcast, public “sinners”. Growing up, I was intrigued and disturbed when the Church appeared to say to a person or group, “The love of God is not for you.” It became like a road map for me to follow, and an assertion to refute through the demonstration of that love.
Jesus was called a “friend of sinners.” I believe this slur is one of the most beautiful names given to Christ. If Jesus is a friend to sinners, then he is not ashamed to be MY friend…or to lead me into friendship with others who need healing, deliverance, and the presence of God in their midst.
What does evangelism mean to you?
The good news must be good news! As a friend of mine, Father Ben Beltran, notes, it does not come in the form of a scolding. The good news is that God has seen us, and that he has taken it upon himself to save us. This is tremendously good news to people who are trapped and trafficked, abused, and exploited.
The good news transforms people’s circumstances here and now—as well as for eternity!
Tell a story of how you shared your faith in Christ and saw God woo an individual/s one step closer to himself.
Let me share an example of God’s Spirit at work.
“Tell him God loves him,” urged my teammate.
Another late-night outreach had brought us to the dark and dirty streets behind City Hall in Athens, Greece. Although women are generally on offer in this area, a few men also prostitute here.
Tassos (not his real name) is one of these—an apt student of theology hidden under women’s clothes and sloppy make-up, offering himself to predatory men for a few euros. Tassos’ approach to prostitution is as unusual as his fondness for theological debate: like a sad clown, his lipstick is invariable smeared into a grimace, his clothes disheveled and not even remotely attractive.
On this night, I (a Greek-speaker) was paired with an English-speaking partner, whose role was to support our conversations in prayer.
After a few minutes of fairly innocuous conversation with Tassos, she tugged at my arm. “Tell him God loves him,” she insisted. I quickly dismissed her suggestion, reminding myself that she didn’t understand our conversation. A few minutes later, as she prayed and I talked, she urged me more forcefully, “Tell him that God loves him!” How basic, I thought. How uninspired.
How wrong I was.
With a small sigh, I turned to Tassos. “She says to tell you that God loves you.” At these words, Tassos gasped and stepped back. I don’t know the thoughts that had been going through his head and heart as we talked…but God did! Through my friend’s sensitivity to the voice of the Spirit, Tassos was able to hear of God’s specific and personal love for him.
Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts. Evangelism is not always accomplished though language study or dynamic techniques…but by the Spirit who is always at work to draw people to the God who loves them.
What is your favorite quote/scripture?
Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
How can people learn more about you and your ministry?
Learn more about the work of the European Freedom Network >>
Tools and information for individuals interested in combating trafficking are available through my Facebook group, Prevent/Restore (request to be added) >>
I also send a quarterly prayer letter outlining news, needs, and opportunities in the fight to bring freedom to people that God loves. Subscribe by emailing me >>
ABOUT THE WORLD
What is the biggest issue the Church in your part of the world faces today and why?
The biggest challenge I see for the Western Church is bringing our love of comfort and pursuit of pleasure into submission to Christ and his purposes. These things become small idols that inform our decisions and dilute our witness, making it unintelligible to the world; instead of transforming our world, we have conformed to it. We have settled in and made ourselves at home.
What is the biggest issue the Global Church is facing today and why?
One of the biggest challenges facing the Global Church today is the erosion of religious freedom. Freedom is integral to human dignity; it is a reflection of Who we were made by, and a reminder of what we were made for—relationship with God. All over the world, the freedom to express and act out faith is under threat, limiting the right to share the good news, to convert in response to the message of the gospel, and even to live according to one’s beliefs.
What is your hope for the Global Church in the next ten years?
The challenges of human trafficking, exploitation, and vulnerability represent not only problems for us to solve, but also our call to the least, the lost, and the lowliest. There are not only problems to solve, but people to serve!
I pray for a Church which, acknowledging its own brokenness, embraces broken people. As the Church considers the love of God for broken people, I hope that we will rediscover the “joy of our salvation.” Like the people we serve, we are loved not because we are good and worthy, but because we are made by God and for him! He loves us in spite of ourselves…and this is VERY good news.