Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day in America. Today is a an opportunity to call attention to the issue of the millions trafficked annually and the 27 million globally who live as slaves. That’s more people living in slavery now than at any other point in human history. The statistics present grim reading. Trafficking is the second largest organised crime in the world today. Trafficking for sexual exploitation generates $27.8 billion each year. That is more than the GDP of many countries. The majority of victims are sold into lives of prostitution where they are sold for sex many times a day. They face rape, forced abortions, abuse, sexually transmitted diseases – and they’re just the physical realities. The emotional and mental trauma is unimaginable.Faced with the horrors of the Third Reich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act”. The only response to evil that is compatible with the Christian faith is to speak and act in whatever way we can. Ignorance is not bliss, it’s sin. I think of it in this way: I’m a brother, I’m a friend, and I’m a youth leader. What if it was my sister, my friend, or one of our youth? What would my response to human trafficking be then? What would your response be if it was your child? I guarantee you would not remain quiet, you would do everything in your power to get them back and to make sure that everyone knew what was happening,
Christ put the issue of freedom front and centre when, quoting the prophet Isaiah, He said that he had come to bring liberty to the captives and to break the chains of the oppressed. (Luke 4:18-19) While the prophecy was fulfilled in the breaking of spiritual chains, it’s effect is deeper. Jesus did not only care for the spirit; it is impossible to read the gospels and not see that the heart of Christ was full of compassion for the poor, the broken and the oppressed. Liberating a few slaves and defeating Romans would not have made Christ the Messiah, it would have made Him Spartacus. What He did was strike at the root of all injustice and win victory over sin once and for all; by doing so He has empowered his followers to have victory against sin and its effects daily. He didn’t free us so we could sit and theorise, but so that we could reach others. (God’s heart on the issue? The bible explicitly condemns the slave trade in both the old and the new testament.)
So what can we do? 225 years ago a group of Christians founded a radical movement that led to the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade. One of their key weapons was awareness; the facts are grotesque, the more people that know about the issue the greater the pressure becomes for more action. We need to be at the forefront of this fight. As individuals we can:
- Raise awareness of the problem. It’s not a far off thing but a reality even in our own communities. (Trafficked girls were found by police Newcastle just last summer.)
- Pray for an end to the problem and for help for the victims.
- Raise funds. Charities such as the A21 Campaign work actively to help free victims and to rebuild their lives, as well as working with law enforcement agencies to help fight the trade itself.
Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Who will you make aware?