Today is the national day for slavery awareness. If you don’t know there are up to or even more than 27 million slaves around the world, working in the fields, brothels, traded for sex, etc. I was never aware of this until Jan. 2013 when I attended Passion 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference opened my eyes to the evil that is still occurring today. Most people, if you ask, say that slavery ended after the Civil War. If you are one of those people you’re dead wrong.
That summer my college small group friends and I decided to put our voice out there for the cause. We designed and executed a huge fundraiser at our church to raise money for an organization who helps and works with people who are saved from that life of slavery: Tiny Hands International. Through the experience of getting the fundraiser ready, I found my heart really reacts to this cause. There is a worship song that I love and one of the lines goes “Let my heart breaks for what breaks yours.” For many years I heard that as just a song, but after Passion it has become a prayer in my life and believe me when I say the issues of slavery in our world breaks my heart as it does God’s.
If you don’t know much about the cause here are some facts I found from the End It Movement website:
Slavery exists in 167 countries around the world. That’s 85% of the nations across the globe.
Nearly 1 in 5 victims of slavery is a child. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the US is 12 – 14 years old.
There are an estimated 60,100 people trapped in slavery
in the United States right now.
An estimated 199,000 incidents of sexual exploitation of minors occur each year in the United States. That’s one incident every 3 minutes.
Those are just four facts about what is going on with slavery, but what the facts don’t show is the cruelty of what goes on to the slaves. Rape, torture, starved, kept in tiny-unlivable rooms, and even death. The thought of men, women, and especially children enduring this breaks my heart every time.
One of the big questions everyone asks is how are these slaves taken into this lifestyle if it is illegal? IJM has a great explanation on their website:
“One of the most common techniques to entrap laborers is through false debts. An owner lures a poor person into slavery by offering a small advance payment for their labor. The owner then ensures it is impossible for the slave to ever repay by inflating the debt owed with exorbitant interest charges, not paying the victim the promised wages and prohibiting him or her from working anywhere else. These false debts can be passed from one generation to the next; we have identified entire families (from grandparents to parents to children) who have been forced to work for years after accepting advance payments as low as $20.”
How they entrap them is just another cruel tactic that breaks my heart as I read the paragraph above, but there is a door to the suffocating cage these enslaved people have lived in for so long. The world has been noticing the issue and are responding. International Justice Mission is just one organization fighting for the slaves around the world. Tiny Hands International is another, but there are more. All they ask if for our support in this fight, whether it is donating money, time, or even lifting up prayers for the workers and slaves. You can be a teenager or an adult, they don’t care, they just need our help. God says in James 1: 27:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
We shouldn’t help just because slavery is against the law, but because it is what God charges us to do. The children in these situations are usually orphaned and the women would be lucky if their husband is even alive. Even though men aren’t in this verse, I believe God wants us to help them too.
So this is our chance. We can spread the word about slavery and start helping in any way we can. Don’t be afraid to help and I pray you don’t read over this and just set it aside, because you are no longer ignorant to the issue of slavery. Say a prayer. Donate money or time. Be active in the fight because God didn’t call us to just sit on the sidelines in our Christianity, but to change the world in His Name. We are His children and He will give us the strength to fight this fight.