Posted tagged ‘Human Trafficking’

Human Trafficking and Changing Habits

May 14, 2010

With all the talk about healthcare and war spending and other ‘politically sexy’ topics being discussed in Washington and the media it breaks my heart that we tend to forget about less attractive issues like human trafficking. Its mind boggling to think that last night 27 million people went to bed as slaves. Think about that. That means that well over two times the population of New York City spent their day today being forced to pick the cotton that we nonchalantly put on as socks and t-shirts, or mining the minerals that make up the components of our high-tech gadgets that we whip out to find the nearest coffee shop, where, as is often the case, we drink coffee and eat chocolate treats harvested by unpaid children.

I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty, especially because I am complicit in all of the above, well except the drinking coffee part, but that’s only because I just don’t like the stuff. However, if you get a bit convicted as you read this perhaps you should assess the changes you may need to make in your life, just as I have to do in my own. Perhaps you are like I was only a few months ago, relatively unaware of the gargantuan problem of modern day slavery that seeps its way into every part of our daily lives. Its not popular to remind people that the food they are eating, the clothes they are wearing and the luxuries and comforts they are enjoying may very well be ‘stained with the blood’ of innocent men, women and children who are forced to produce those goods for companies looking to save a buck and consumers demanding those same savings.

Now there is another, often more sinister, part of the modern slave trade that has gotten some attention in the media, the sex-slave industry. I have to emphasize ‘some’ as I write because last century’s American idol runners up get more attention. Unfortunately it seems that when stories about these abuses air we seem to have moments of conviction that soon get overwhelmed by the grand scale of the issue at hand or by our own apathy and acceptance of the status quo that suits most of us so well.

So what are we to do with a problem of such a monumental scale, with so little public attention and such an ability to blend in to its surroundings? Well there are the usual routes of writing your congressman or protesting certain brands, but I want to encourage us all to try something a bit different. My suggestion is that we all, for one month, try to fast from any goods made by slaves. In tandem with this, I admonish each of us to start educating ourselves about the problem so that we can in turn educate others, and that instead of just boycotting brands that are notorious for their ‘bloody’ production line, we actively seek out ways to support businesses and non-profits that are working towards the new abolition. And assuming that none of you are sleeping with prostitutes, which I sure hope you are not, then a good way to help those in the sex slave industry is to buy jewelry and other goods made by women and children rescued from brothels. And most of all, we need to pray, to cry out to God as a people, the spiritual descendants of the Israelites, who were rescued by God’s almighty hand from the clutches of a tyrannical slave master.

Educate yourselves by checking out this list of resources and ideas, and  join the movement of modern day abolitionists. Also, keep the World Equestrian Games in your prayers as it is expected that thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people will be forcibly brought in to the Lexington, KY area to be sex workers for those attending the games.

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Human Trafficking Conference- NFS Video

October 13, 2009

This very short video, from last weeks Forum On Human Trafficking, powerfully conveys the message that slavery and human trafficking are a grave reality in our world, even this very day. Watch it, then check out my previous post to see what you can do about it.

Human Trafficking Conference- Day One

October 9, 2009

We arrived at the church and I confess I am already frustrated. This place is a mall, only nicer. I wonder how much money was spent on the fancy decorations and lighting and sound equipment. I also noticed that over 90% of the people here are white, probably middle or upper middle class, attractive,  wearing plastered on smiles. I too am these things, perhaps sans the attractiveness and permanent smile. Where are the blacks, the Asians, the natives and the Hispanics? Where are the poor? Where are the oppressed, impoverished? People are dressed in outfits that are worth more than my car. Is it all a façade? Is it a way to make ourselves feel good about our convictions and conscience? Are we just trying to create meaning in a world that often seems so meaningless? I am guilty too. Lots of words, and anger and guilt for the injustice around me, but very little action, maybe even less serious prayer. How do the wealthy, educated, affluent and powerful combat widespread systemic injustices? Do we meet in million dollar church buildings patting each other on the back and raising awareness or is there something more to this? How do we speak truth to power when we are the powerful?

On another note, this morning we met and had a formation in common session with just our group. We started with 15 minutes of silence, which was uncomfortable yet peaceful. The we read together from the Asbury reader and discussed, Lectio Divina style, what the text was speaking to us. Mostly I took away that I need to just rest in the peace of God’s presence and the joy of his salvation, but now I am struggling with how that is tempered with God’s lament over our condition, especially our unawareness of the fetters of wealth, comfort, self-righteousness and homogeneity that bind our souls and keep them from soaring. I want to live and work with joy and peace, but I also want to feel the sense of outrage that I believe God feels when he sees a bunch of rich white folks bantering about changing the world in our million dollar facilities when our battle should be more in the trenches.

God, I am sorry if I am being judgemental. I am simply trying to express what I see and feel. Help me love church folks. Help me love myself. Help me love in a way that I see the image of God in those who trying so hard to create it in themselves. Help me love myself. Help me love those who only fight injustice from the safety of their pew and the comfort of being a safe distance from the bleeding hands and feet and human slaves. Help me love myself. Help me love those who shed rivers of tears on behalf of the oppressed but never shed any blood. Help me love myself. Help me love the readers and speakers, those full of knowledge and vision but lacking in practice and lifestyles of redemptive suffering and love. Help me love myself. Help me love, Lord, help me love.

As I hear the speakers give their various spiels I am much more encouraged, but still skeptical about what each of us does when we leave this place. I love the creative ideas been tossed about and the deep concern on behalf of the presenters. I am impressed with the fact that more people than I would have imagined are actually getting their hands dirty. However, I am wary about the ideas being put forth that we msut somehow depend on law or government to end these atrocities. This simply isn’t true. I don’t think it comes down to prosecutions or threats or coercion. The change we seek can only come through changed lives and hearts. I don’t think it’s the governments job, its our job to see this through. We arent ultimately aiming to end slavery, we are seeking to particpate in and promote the new humanity of God’s kingdom. Prosecution isn’t the answer. Love is.

Some of the quotes that stuck out to me are

“People are willing to leave their theology at the door to come together and combat this issue.” We cannot and must not leave our theology at the door because it informs our actions.

“We should aim to make these grass roots movements a part of the establishment.” Really?!?!

I know some of these thoughts may be a bit disjointed, but there is so much information being thrown at us and I havent had much time to process and reflect on most of it. Look for more to come.

Human Trafficking Conference- Travel

October 8, 2009

I was given the chance to travel with a group from Asbury to the Global Conference on Human Trafficking in Carlsbad, California. Here are some of my thoughts from the trip to California. There will be more thoughts and reflections from the conference from myself and others in our group.

As we are flying to a conference on one of the great atrocities of our day, of any day, I cant help but wonder how my own lust, addictions, indulgences and apathy have contributed to the brokenness of this world where people think it is ok to own another human being for their own pleasure. How has my falleness rippled out in both the physical and spiritual realms, empowering the evil one and his minions while galvanizing the chains that hold his enemies, oppressed and oppressors, in bondage? Or do I give my own wretched, sinful existence too much credit? Are my contributions of deadly desires and limitless complacency enough to give an ounce of power to the dammed deceiver? If so, are the rare moments of surrender to God in me really destroying the wicked systems of the world by bearing witness to the true reality of God’s Kingdom?

It is my deepest hope, or at least my best hope, that somehow, someday I will live and act and speak like Jesus. My own damn vanity and pride, my indifference for the situations of others and my longing for momentary acceptance and my fear of both success and failure all act as the brick and mortar that imprison me. But, it is the destructive grace of God on which I depend, to keep razing the fortress in which I have held myself captive. I know that he will, his Kingdom will, destroy hell’s gates and let all of those who dare escape run free. It is this trust, that if God’s power can level gates of pure evil, He can and will overwhelm my pride and all of my best and worst intentions.