Well, here's another kind of freedom for which we need to fight. It's freedom from modern-day slavery.
Yesterday Kevin Austin, the director of Not For Sale's Abolitionist Faith Community and a Free Methodist missionary/abolitionist, spoke at church. Since his years as a missionary in Thailand, when he first saw sex trafficking for himself, he has been active in seeking ways to expose and abolish this industry that destroys millions of lives.
The statistics are appalling. There are at least 50 million slaves today -- "people bound in servitude as the property of a person or household" (Free Dictionary). The first people to arrive on the scene after the Haiti earthquake were the sex traffickers, who picked up children and took them to various cities in the US to be sold into the sex trade. In the US alone there are 100,0000 domestic minors who are used as slaves either in labor or in the sex industry.
Worldwide, slavery is a $32,000,000,000/year business. In some places in the world, a child can be bought for as little as $3.00. This is one of the fastest growing criminal money making activities in the world today.
If a child from one of America's big cities runs away from home and is not found within the first 48 hours, he or she likely will be picked up by a trafficker. In Seattle, however, that window is only 45 minutes.
The good news is that people are waking up to the reality of slavery around the globe and are mobilizing to work toward its end. In 2007, the Free Methodist Church took an official stand against modern day slavery by passing a resolution in its General Conference session. Now, in partnership with Youth With a Mission (YWAM), Not For Sale, and other organizations, the denomination is deeply committed to seeing an end of slavery. The hope is that people who are trapped in slavery will find freedom physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Kevin told stories of people joining the movement to set people free. He spoke of a church youth group that organized a run with 60 participants who raised $6000. Several Christian universities have begun teaching courses to equip modern day abolitionists. Small groups and large are stepping up to address this crisis.
Moriah, a 5-year-old whom Kevin met, heard about modern day slavery and wanted to see it come to an end. She began sharing her passion in her Sunday School class, and each week these young children would pray about their concern. About that time, Moriah was learning to count to 100. She liked the number, and when the teacher asked the children what they would do with $100 if she were to give it to them, Moriah said she'd use it to help free slaves. When the word got out at her church that this was Moriah's desire, people began to give her hundred dollar bills. She presented them to Kevin Austin, who took them with him to Cambodia. There he presented the money to a ministry that was caring for several eight-year-olds who had just been rescued from slavery.
Out of the groups that are springing up around the country, the Set Free Movement has begun. They offer 20 ways to help end modern day slavery and create new futures for people. Look over the list and choose one thing that you can do, no, two things. Pray. That one appears twice on the list, so we know it is doubly important. And then choose one more thing you can do, and do it! Maybe that is all you will do. But just maybe you will find that it isn't enough and you just keep doing one more thing.
It's a daunting task, but, in Jesus' name, we can help people find freedom!
(You can contact Kevin Austin at Kevin1austin@gmail.com)