Probably when you think of slavery, you still envision Africans being kidnapped and forced into labor on farms in the south. You might think Roots. You might think it all ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. Or you may know that slavery was abolished in our state, Pennsylvania, much earlier-1780-probably due to our state's Quaker foundation.
You would only be kinda right.
Slavery continues. You may stretch and think, ok, well maybe in Asia with all the sex trade.
Yes, that's true, too, but what about in our country's borders? Our state's?
Pennsylvania 2010 Advocate’s Brief Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation produced by the Polaris Project shares some sobering facts:
In addition to the commercial front businesses such as massage parlors, nail salons, agricultural operations, and hotels or motels that human traffickers utilize, Pennsylvania is also a “pass through” state due to the many interstate highways that connect major trafficking hotspots in Ohio, New Jersey, and New York. Furthermore, the I-95 corridor is utilized to move victims along the Eastern Seaboard from New York to Maryland, Washington, D.C., Georgia and Florida. Many truck stops, especially those along the “Miracle Mile” are known for playing host to sex trafficking.
Last night I attended the first I Stop Trafficking banquet at Bible Fellowship Church in the rural community of Ephrata. God created a desire to join in the fight for justice for the oppressed in one woman who found herself in the middle of something that grew bigger than she envisioned. One woman's heart was broken, and she provided the opportunity for God to wreck other's. This small town church event raised $4200 for the cause of stopping human trafficking. What could many broken, but obedient, hearts do?
Three organizations that were represented were Northstar Initiative, Love146, and the International Justice Mission. If you don't know who they are or what they do, please, follow the links and check it out. IJM and Love146 are global whereas Northstar Initiative is local to our area of Pennsylvania. Get educated and get involved. Let us abolish slavery in all forms.
A speaker last night challenged us to imagine one girl-one girl trapped, exploited, abused, enslaved. As I did, I thought of my granddaughter. She is only 3 right now, but in a few years she would be a prime age for the sex trade in many areas of the world. The thought twisted my stomach. Then the speaker challenged us to consider what we would do.
Frankly, I would hunt her. I would never stop looking for her. I would spend every cent I own, focus all my energy and resources, on finding her. I would heal her, care for her, restore her. (Though I admit I was also wanting to hunt and slay those who enslaved her.)
It made me think of what God did for us, to free us from the slavery of sin. It made me think of how I have been freed. It made me think of how I desire for others to be freed. It made me think:
Why would my granddaughter be more important than these other children of my Father?
Aren't they just as important? Don't they deserve justice? Hasn't my Father instructed me to act justly? What does that look like with the injustice that I have become aware of? How can I say I do when I ignore the cries of the oppressed?
I cannot do everything. But I must do something. This is my start. What about you?