The slave trade in America is an unfortunate stain on our history as a country. By God’s grace, it eventually ended with the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and the passage of the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution in 1865, which states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Yet, a form of slavery still exists, both at home and abroad.
Modern day slavery is not always as noticeable to the public eye as that of slavery in the past. Most Americans can quite possibly go their entire life without ever consciously noticing any traces of modern slavery. Nevertheless, slavery exists. More than 27,000,000 people are trapped in the shackles of slavery across the world today, according to the coalition End It Movement. It is one of the most lucrative crime schemes in the world with estimated revenue of $150 billion per year.
What is modern slavery?
Modern slavery can take many forms and is often hidden in plain sight. It is a crime in which an individual is forced to perform manual or sexual labor against their will. Modern slaves are treated as disposable. When slaves are sick, injured, or underperforming, they are often dumped or killed.
Slavery is illegal in every single country across the world. But still countless men, women, and children are victims of bounded labor, forced labor, and human trafficking. No one is immune to the potential risk of slavery. Men, women, boys, and girls – our children, grandchildren, sisters, and brothers – are all at risk.
Two days ago, the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing on ending modern slavery. The committee heard testimony from experts and survivors of slavery. One survivor’s story stuck out to me. The survivor, named Leah, shared her story:
“I was a typical teenager, came from a loving Christian family and had lots of close friends …. But one bad decision would ultimately change my life forever. I became addicted to drugs and the one person I thought was helping me break free of my addiction was in fact a trafficker of young women for the sex trade.”
“It seems strange to even use the term ‘Modern- day slavery’ in our country, but it went from something I knew next to nothing about, to the way I was forced to live my life for seven years. I knew of slavery from what my history classes taught me, it ended. Unfortunately, for many people today, this is just not the case. This is a way of life they are forced to live, how to think, when/where to eat, sleep and work. Slavery is alive and well today.”
What’s being done?
Yesterday was the End It Day, which is a coalition of organizations from across the world fighting for the freedom of modern-day slaves and shining a light on the issue of slavery. Each of these organizations and various others are actively working to spread awareness about slavery while providing prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation for victims.
Currently, there is an initiative in Congress sponsored by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) called the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015. This is a bi-partisan bill which attempts to marshal resources to bring an end to modern slavery. You can reach out to your own senator to express your support for this bill and other efforts to ending modern slavery here in the U.S.
Various Christian organizations are working to end modern slavery, such as the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. This organization seeks to help those enslaved in human trafficking and share the life-saving gospel of Jesus Christ through the One Brothel effort. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission provides resources on human trafficking as well. Other Evangelical Christian organizations focus on slavery such as the World Vision’s Childhood Lost program which works to prevent the trafficking of children by rallying teenagers across the U.S. to support restoration for victims of human trafficking in Bangladesh.
What can the church do?
1. Pray & Hold out the Gospel:
Jesus Christ brought to this world the best good news there ever has been or will be: the gospel. Let us pray for all of the captives of slavery and their captors to hear the life transforming good news of the gospel. Ending modern slavery in a massive task, but we know there is power in the prayers of the faithful and the gospel of Jesus Christ! In fact, freeing captives features prominently in this passage which Jesus Christ once read about Himself:
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn…” (Isaiah 61:1-2, ESV)
2. Be Informed & Inform:
If Leah’s story teaches us anything, it is that we can just as easily go from having no clue about modern slavery to being a slave. Education is one of the best preventatives against slavery, please inform yourself and others. This article is only the tip of the iceberg of information on modern slavery. For more information on modern slavery with country specific information read the Trafficking in Persons Report produced by the U.S. Department of State.
The reality is we live in a fallen sinful world, where sin like modern slavery runs rampant. However, by the grace of God, prayer, education, and action we can be light and share life with a world that is dying and trapped in the bonds of slavery. Let the Church arise!Google+