Singer and songwriter Janie Chu says she sings about pain and suffering to end the social injustice of sex trafficking through the love of Jesus Christ.
"I think, because Jesus epitomizes the redemption, freedom from bondage, healing that comes with the gospel message, we see that that will begin to turn the tide on every aspect of this issue," she said in a Friday interview with The Christian Post.
Despite this hopeful message, her songs express a great deal of pain, she said. Many Christian authors "feel like you have to pigeon-hole yourself into either writing Christian music or worship music," but she said that would not be "authentic" for her.
"Because there's been a lot of emotional and physical pain in my life, I often felt like I didn't really fit in, in a lot of church settings," the artist said. One event of "physical and verbal abuse with an authority figure" stuck with her throughout her childhood, until she finally got healing through counseling.
While in college at Emory University in Atlanta, she studied sociology. "The worldly perspective often creates a sort of male-bashing criticism because women are unfairly treated," Chu explained. But she said that the love of Christ led her to seek healing, not judgment, in social justice.
After the singer discovered the issue of human trafficking in late 2008, she realized the critical role of men in fighting for justice, she explained. "Ultimately – I don't think it's antifeminist to say this – we do need good men to step up and care about this issue."
"The only way to make a dent in this is to address demand for it to go down," she argued.
Fighting the demand for sex trafficking would involve many fronts, Chu warned. She praised the Atlanta organization Men Stopping Violence, "a national training organization" preparing "men to prevent violence against women and girls," according to its website. According to the singer, this group serves as an example because it "educates men without judgment."
But effective change also requires engaging a "hyper-sexualized culture," she added. "Even the most recent music videos from pop culture have been degrading to women and treating them as objects."
In contrast to the dominant culture, the artist expressed her support for "sexuality as God designed it." This involves "men honoring women…to respect and really uplift women the way that Jesus does." Citing Ephesians 5:32, she encouraged men and women to look at the analogy of Jesus' relationship with the church, "the bride of Christ."
The welcoming love of Christ emerges in her music video, "Echoes," released last month. With some jarring chords woven into a hauntingly beautiful theme, Janie sings about a girl's struggle with sex trafficking. The video shows a pimp hitting her, forcing her into a car, and almost killing her at one point. But toward the end, her friend finds a shelter named "Jesus Saves," and those two words stand out, a symbol of hope, as the music fades.
Chu recounted playing her music at a shelter for girls recovering from sex trafficking. She said she was reluctant to give them her albums because there was so much pain on them, but "a month or so later, I got a handmade card in the mail from them…and it just brought me to tears."
Currently, the singer is working on a project with the Christian campus ministry Intervarsity called "Exposing Darkness: Artists Bringing Trafficking to Light," a division of "Price of Life: New York City." Last year, she started compiling a team of artists to feature the issue in their music, she said. She projected it starting to take shape by this Fall.
Depending on her budget, she said she hopes to start recording a new album "in the next year or so."