Social Justice

(Not) Business as Usual

Blog_EmptyPark_PikrepoMy family has gone on more walks lately than I can recall in any springtime past. We’re blessed to live in an area with multiple locations for scenic hikes, so we’ve taken much advantage of one of the few things still allowed during shelter-in-place: outdoor exercise. This is one thing I hope doesn’t change when all this passes over.

Along our walks, we’ve seen many beautiful and interesting things. But I will say there is one thing we’ve seen that seems especially unusual. Empty playgrounds.

While the sight of a slide and some swings usually elicits a gasp of excitement from my children, there is a strange stillness when we pass by equipment once adorned with laughing children. It’s somber, almost. Haunting.

I know my kids are eager for things to go back to normal when it comes to playgrounds. And many others are yearning for business-as-usual in other areas as well. Family gatherings. Visits with friends. Work. School. Shopping. Entertainment. Sports.

As much as I long for some normalcy, there are some things I hope never return to the way they were before the lock-down. I hope my family continues to treasure our precious time together. I hope we still enjoy long walks outdoors. And I hope we remain in this state of prioritizing the valuable over the urgent.

On a more serious level, there are other things I hope never go back to business-as-usual. Prior to this season of quarantine, the practice of human trafficking was flourishing on soil across the globe. This $150 billion per year, 40 million victim industry prospered without hindrance on every continent.

Only time will tell how much this shut-down has slowed the progress of this horrific evil. We may never know how many abductions have been prevented with children and youth required to remain safely inside. And with the sports industry on halt, the trafficking-driven after-sporting events are left without the hundreds of thousands they once magnetized.

My prayer is that this current crisis will come as an urgent wake-up call to those who have funded this industry with selfish appetites, and that they would turn from their victimizing ways. My hope is that those who have been victimized will find their way to lasting freedom, and that those who are laboring behind the scenes to bring such freedom will prosper in the cause of justice. And my desire is that the horrific practice of modern slavery will not continue business-as-usual.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

Questions and Answers

Snodonia Mines Area from Google Images, Wikipediawhy the hunger and the thirst,
why the war and death and grief?
why the sickness with no cure
and the pain with no relief?

why the child without a home
and the outcast with no friend?
why the family without hope
and the suffering without end?

why the questions without answers
and the life that ends too soon?
what’s the purpose for this madness
God, dare i question you?

when will you enter in?
will you ever intervene?
can’t you simply lift your hand
to end this suffering?

and yet, you turn to me
a question for my ears…
do i not realize
i can answer my own prayers?

can i not lift my hands
to heal the hurt i see?
can i not enter in,
can i not intervene?

you suffered on the cross
and bore our every pain
then gave to us the work
told us go do the same

and i’m beginning now to see
that the answer lies with me
the things i’ve left undone
the pain that i’ve refused to see

the cries that i’ve ignored
the lives that i’ve betrayed
by turning from their eyes
choosing numbness over pain

how can i question God?
how can i complain?
i cast on him the blame
when it is i who bear the shame

 

poem copyright Jenna Fernandez

The Weak are Made Strong

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We may not be able to solve all the world’s problems, but we all have something to give. We have talents, skills, and resources to contribute to the cause. We all have a voice, no matter how quiet, no matter how frail. The weak are made strong in the hands of a mighty God.

 

Photo Credit: Free photo: Scarf, Close, Market, Colorful – Free Image on Pixabay …

What the Average Person Can Do

Blog_DandelionBreezeWe see the need, we feel compelled. We hear the statistics, we feel overwhelmed. What can one average person do?

That’s how I feel when I listen to news about human trafficking and other injustices in our world. Powerless. Voiceless. Insignificant.

There has to be enough professionals out there to answer the cry of our ailing world. Certainly there are people far more talented. And the rich have infinite resources.

Yet with all the professional, talented, rich people in the world, there is still no end to suffering. Either those with such great resources are not answering the call, or skill and wealth aren’t enough to solve our problems. Or both.

One day Jesus was preaching and people were hungry. Thousands of them. No one in the crowd felt they could meet the need. But a little boy contributed five loaves and two fish, and Jesus multiplied it to feed the multitudes.

I imagine that boy felt powerless, voiceless, and insignificant for much of his life. He thought he was just…average. And yet, his small sacrifice multiplied to make a miraculous difference.

We may not be able to solve all the world’s problems, but we all have something to give. We have talents, skills, and resources to contribute to the cause. We all have a voice, no matter how quiet, no matter how frail. The weak are made strong in the hands of a mighty God.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24)

When We Stand Silent

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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

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.

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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