Social Justice

When We Stand Silent

blog_stadiumsilence

Victory on the field is fleeting. Each year, there will be a new winner and a new loser. But there is NEVER a winner when we stand silent while the next generation stands in chains.

 

Photo Credit: Stadium – Free images on Pixabay

Advertisements

Behind the Super Bowl Scenes

Blog_SuperBowlTraffickingAs the masses prepare sports-holiday feasts and prep the media shrine for gridiron glory this Super Bowl Sunday, it seems the only newsworthy events of the weekend will be the final score, the halftime show, and the genius commercials in between. Unfortunately, there’s another side of the Super Bowl that rarely makes headlines. While multitudes gorge themselves on pizza and hot wings, guzzle beer by the gallon, and allow the highs and lows of the game to govern their emotional well-being, there are slaves waiting fearfully in the wings, knowing that at the close of the show they will be devoured as some sports-themed commodity.

We may think Sunday’s event is all about two teams battling for hard-earned victory. The fact is, many of our sports “heroes” will participate in what has been called “the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States.” Those fans in the stands? Some are there for the sheer enjoyment of the game. But too many have other plans for post-game “entertainment” that involves the degrading of innocent human beings. Blog_HumanTraffickingStats

Does the thought make you shudder? Or would we rather don our sports gear, snuggle under a cozy blanket, and pretend our favorite pastime is not a nightmare to thousands of teens abducted and trafficked each year?

Yes, it is a fact. The Super Bowl is an insidious magnet for the trafficking industry—an industry that notoriously victimizes hundreds of thousands of our precious children.

How is it that we boycott everything that infringes on our own comforts and preferences yet turn a blind eye when the rights of our nations youth are squandered in the name of athletic triumph? Victory on the field is fleeting. Each year, there will be a new winner and a new loser. But there is NEVER a winner when we stand silent while the next generation stands in chains. Blog_SuperBowlTrafficking01

I couldn’t care less who wins this Sunday. What I do care about is the fact that children are enslaved to the evil desires of men while our justice system stands strangely silent on their behalf. As long as the Super Bowl remains the primary draw for human trafficking rings, there are NO victors on the field or off.

Until we do all that it takes to put an end to this tragedy, we aren’t doing enough.

Blog_WilberforceQuote

The Cost of Freedom

blog_rockingchairShe was finally free, but she refused to forget those still in chains. While she could have lived in relative safety, she chose to risk her life to rescue those bound as she once was. Harriet Tubman knew the danger she would face in returning to the place of her own bondage for the sake of those enslaved. Yet she considered their lives and valued their freedom more highly than her own.

Had I lived the nightmare she lived, I wonder if I’d so willingly return. It would be so easy to slip into obscurity, to hide in the shelter of freedom—forgetting those who suffered I once had. The prospect of losing my newfound freedom might overshadow the potential freedom of others.

What would motivate a former slave to risk life and freedom for the sake of others? This woman who endured such unthinkable hardships came through the furnace of affliction with great faith. She once said, “Twant me, ’twas the Lord. I always told him, ‘I trust to you. I don’t know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,’ and He always did.

The same God who led her is the God who had heard the cry of the slaves in the days of the Exodus, who upon seeing the oppression of a people in chains spoke these words: “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them…” (Exodus 3:7-8)

True love sees the needs of those in chains. And true love hears their cries. But it doesn’t stop there. True love is compassionate. And true love rescues.

Slavery is said to have been abolished years ago, but it continues today. Thousands are trafficked and sold across our own borders. We have a choice. Will we close our eyes to the need? Will we ignore the cry? Or will we see, hear, and act in compassion? Because only true love can set a captive free.

True Love…FREES (from This Life and Beyond’s series #50ShadesOfTrueLove)

 

Photo Credit: Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway | Bucktown Village… | Flickr

Choosing Chains

blog_shackleschainsandfettersA life in chains is unimaginable from the vantage point of freedom. Nothing could be more horrific than to be taken by force from the life, land, and family you love. Even more inconceivable is that anyone would willingly choose a life in chains.

When faced with opposition to their desired mission among the enslaved of their time, Johann Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann asserted their willingness to become slaves themselves. If reaching slaves meant a life in chains, they would choose such a life. Their declaration? “We shall become slaves among the slaves.” The men were eventually granted passage as free men, yet still they chose to live humbly in a land of slavery to proclaim the gospel of freedom to those in bondage.

As I consider their selflessness, I have to ask myself if I’d willingly do the same. Does my love for others run deep enough that I would sacrifice my comfort and security for their freedom? These men got on a boat and traveled far to fulfill their calling. But we don’t need to get on a boat to find people in need of help, hope, love, and freedom. And we don’t have to travel far to be selfless.

As Mother Teresa once said, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” There are people among us who live in chains. Modern slavery is rampant in our own country. The enslaved reside in our own cities. Still, beyond that, there are people who live as slaves to fear, abuse, addiction, neglect, and more. How can we sacrifice, here and now, for the enslaved in our midst?

While the sacrifice of the Moravian missionaries was heroic beyond measure, we can follow their example of selflessness to free those in bondage right here, right now. We don’t have to wear literal chains to be enslaved to a cause. Our daily, selfless sacrifice can do more for the cause of freedom than we can ever imagine.
 
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19)

True Love…is SELFLESS (from thislifeandbeyond’s series #50ShadesOfTrueLove)

Love Grieves

Grieving from Google Images I used to be funny. Really, I did. You wouldn’t know it, because I usually couldn’t remember how the joke started, let alone the punch line. Still, I loved to laugh and to make people laugh. But somewhere along the way, I saw the world for what it is. Went on a few mission trips, saw the depths of poverty. Lived in the inner city surrounded by gang violence and drug addiction and children alone on the streets at one in the morning. Learned about human trafficking and saw it happening before my very eyes when I was powerless to intervene. And I stopped laughing so much.

Most specifically, I remember my first trip to Amsterdam. The first day, on a tour bus viewing some famous landmarks, knowing there were slaves in chains behind the façade. The tour guide made a casual remark about how free and happy their society was, noting with pride their legalization of prostitution. And I thought—doesn’t she know that the majority of these women are victims of human trafficking? Deceived into the lifestyle by the promise of good and reputable work. Torn from their families by a bold-faced lie. Abducted. Exploited. Enslaved.

In the evenings our church group went to the place where girls as young as 12 were imprisoned behind glass doors, in hopes of leading them to freedom. One of the girls we talked to broke down in tears because she wanted to get out of there but was afraid her pimp would beat her to death if she left. Most nights, I went back to my room and spent the night crying.

It’s not that I spend every day all mopey and depressed. If you know my kids, you know how impossible that would be. They’re a reminder of the good things in this world—those things worth fighting for. But knowing the evils I’ve seen exist in rampant measure around the world, there is always a heaviness burdening my heart. And I can’t let it go.

There is so much to be grateful for, and yet I’m reminded of how even Jesus wept. He sat on the hillside overlooking the city, longing to gather its people in his arms. Grieved over the hypocrisy of the religious and the brokenness of the sinners. He wept for the things of the world that are not as they should be, because humankind insists on living for self, which inevitably leads to suffering. True love grieves, knowing that life and love could be so much more than what they’ve become in human hands. True love hurts, torn by the sharp-edged pieces as we join in the struggle to mend our broken world. There’s a time for joy, yes. But there’s also a time to grieve. I still want my sense of humor back. But I never want to forget the pain that reminds me what true love is.

True Love…GRIEVES (from This Life & Beyond’s Series #50ShadesOfTrueLove)

Faith and Action

blog_wilberforcequotes_privatefaith

 

Photo Credit: William Wilberforce Quotes (42 wallpapers) – Quotefancy

Every Voice

blog_prisonbars

No matter how small, no matter how average—every voice that rises in outcry against the injustice of modern slavery is one more voice in the battle for freedom.

 

Photo Credit: Prison Bars | Uploaded with Flickup on iPad | Bob Jagendorf | Flickr