Calling All Abolitionists

Human Rights, Other, The Gospel — By on May 16, 2009 at 9:50 pm

When Bethany Hoang (now director of the International Justice Mission Institute) turned in papers on modern slavery for her seminary classes, her professors docked points from her grades for lying.  Eventually she learned to bring in stacks of reports from the CIA and the U.S. State Department to back her citations each time she turned in a paper.  Even so, her arguments met skepticism.  It isn’t any wonder.  The U.S. State Department didn’t even establish the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons until 2000, and it didn’t release its first report until early 2001.

The numbers are staggering.  According to most sources, as many as 27 million people are held in involuntary servitude or forced labor around the world.  To put that into historical perspective, it’s more than twice as many people as died in the Holocaust.  It’s more people than 400 years of the Transatlantic slave trade trafficked.  The State Department estimates that as many as 30,000 people are trafficked across the U.S. border per year, headed for destinations both foreign and domestic.  200,000 slaves live within the borders of the U.S. today.  17,500 of those people are children.  Researchers report that 80% of all slaves worldwide are women, and 50% are children.  Those in highest demand worldwide are young girls between the ages of 10 and 16, forced into prostitution, or as I should state more accurately, raped for profit.  Human trafficking is the fastest growing black market trade, and is on a trajectory to surpass both arms dealing and drug dealing within the next few decades.

Slavery is real, and it is thriving.  Log on to www.slaverymap.org to spot reported and prosecuted incidents near your home.  The numbers of people involved, and the personal testimonies of those who’ve lived the nightmare, are shocking.  They can be enough to make us throw up our hands in despair of ever addressing the problem.  But this weekend, I met people who fight it every day, who understand the temptation of despair but choose instead to place their hope in the promises of God.

This weekend, I attended Freedom Summit 2009 in Mountain View, California.  It featured representatives from the International Justice Mission, the Not for Sale Campaign, Slave Free, The Hagar Project, Starfish, Trade as One, and many other abolitionist organizations.  The San Jose Police Department was on hand to promote the South Bay Coalition Against Human Trafficking.  The attendees were a diverse group from all races, and all ages.  I saw retirees and college students squeeze between families with junior highers in tow, all gathered in the same room to hear heroes of the modern abolitionist movement speak.

The overwhelming theme of the conference was not anger, as some might expect, nor was it tragedy, an attempt to tug at heartstrings to get at purse strings.  Instead, each presenter spoke of the source of their passion for abolition: Christ the Savior.  It is the image of Christ who, laying down His life, rescues us from the clutches of the Evil One and calls us His own that moves these men and women to give up all they have, some of them risking death for their work, and show the love of Christ to the oppressed by imitating Him in His greatest work.

On the opening night of the conference, David Batstone, founder of the Not for Sale Campaign, told the first of a weekend full of compelling stories.  An unmarried, middle aged woman in Cambodia began speaking to some street kids one day, and learned they had been sold by their families into slavery from many different countries in the region.  They were all sent first to the karaoke bars in the city to feed the city’s booming sex tourism trade (a trade fueled primarily by western businessmen) , and when they’d proven their loyalty they were allowed on the street as beggars.  Horrified, the woman dashed into the first karaoke bar she saw.  Sure enough, at the bar there were two little girls, no older than 10, being forced to flirt with an older man.  She blinked, then darted forward, grabbed one girl under each arm and fled.  Less than a year later, those two little girls had been joined by more than 100 others as this woman waged her own personal war on the sex trade in her country.  Now, with sponsorship from Batstone’s organization, she runs a small village of rescued children.

This unambitious woman is an image of Christ the Savior for those children.  She’s an image of Him for me, as well.  Though her methods aren’t sophisticated, she was so moved to action she couldn’t do anything more than grab the children and take them away from those who would do evil to them.  My heart hopes I’d do the same, but I have to admit, though I’ve been aware of human trafficking for a number of years now, I’ve cataloged it along with other injustices that make me burn with anger, but don’t move me to much action beyond hand-wringing.  After attending Freedom Summit, I’ve decided that must change.

This is a bit heavy for my first post on this website.  I think it should be.  Over my next few posts, I’ll share the wise words of the presenters from Freedom Summit, as well as some practical things that everyone can do to fight this most evil of black market trades on a daily basis.  I’m excited about this.  Like our forefathers and foremothers from the last century, today’s leading abolitionists are Christians.  It is a movement sprung from the words Christ read in the synagogue in Nazareth to begin His public ministry:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Let us carry on the noble tradition, and follow where our Savior has led us. ‘



  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=545951657 John Reynolds

    We could not agree more Linds. This is an issue where all Christians of good will should do whatever they can!

    John Mark

  • ex-preacher

    could we make that “all people of good will”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=545951657 John Reynolds

    Yes, of course ex-preacher, as a teacher who loves noble pagans . . . I am happy to include anyone of good will!

  • Jason Taylor

    Heteronormative? Is it just me or is the weirdness of a thought directly proportional to the number of sylables used to describe it?

    This comment was originally posted on The Point

  • Rolley Haggard

    It’s just you, Jason, you litero–logico–historico–grammatical prodigy you. (Not that I would know).

    :)

    This comment was originally posted on The Point

  • Rolley Haggard

    Re “Short(est) Stories”. I never could resist a literary challenge. My first (and possibly last) 140-character twiterature tweet, entitled, “The Critic”:

    Words
    Traitor swords
    Wizarded with skill
    Kill

    In black ink
    I sink
    Trading for breath
    Death

    Dazzled by harps in my deviled fire
    I look up
    He is higher
    He damns my verse

    WORSE

    This comment was originally posted on The Point

  • jason taylor

    Why thank you Rolley.

    This comment was originally posted on The Point

  • jason taylor

    Rolley for shortness, how about:

    Rich tycoon murdered
    pretty heir suspected
    shrewd hero saves day
    butler did it.

    This comment was originally posted on The Point

  • Gina Dalfonzo

    Nice work, guys!

    Here’s a similar piece you might enjoy:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/19/AR2009051903423.html

    This comment was originally posted on The Point

  • Ben W

    Jason, don’t forget:

    and hero gets the girl

    ..or does that go without saying?

    This comment was originally posted on The Point

  • jason taylor

    Not nescessarilly Ben. Sometimes getting the girl forces the hero to settle down. Other times the hero and the girl are such an odd couple that it really wouldn’t work(Perry Mason never falls in love with his clients though sometimes his PI does). Other times the hero is something of a goofball with women or just unlucky. For instance, for some reason Magnum is just unlucky despite the fact that all women like him at first, which arrangement is necessary to continue the show: see the first reason.

    Oddly enough the Butler seldom really does it either.

    This comment was originally posted on The Point

  • Rolley Haggard

    Let’s exonerate that poor butler once and for all……..

    Butler flustered –
    Jury just heard
    One clue mustered

    Mrs Peacock
    Begs of Sherlock
    Make the man walk

    Count upon it
    Here’s whodunit
    Colonel Mustard
    (Poisoned custard)

    This comment was originally posted on The Point

  • http://www.krazikrone.com Krazi Krone

    As a person of good will, I commend your effort and its power, to reach out and spread the word of this horrible act. Thank you

  • http://www.catholicmusings.com Stephen M. Bauer

    Great blog entry.

    http://www.nominetwork.org

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