The following blog was written by Rachel Kennedy. Rachel has been a part of Ethos for about 4 years, and she has worked with International Justice Mission and is passionate about ending slavery and seeing the church rise up.
According to the Global Slavery Index, there are over 45 million people in the world who live as slaves.
To put that into perspective, 45 million is more slaves than were trafficked during the 400 years of the transatlantic slave trade. It is a greater population than 158 countries in the world.
This is not some diluted, by-modern-standards definition of slavery. This is 45 million people experiencing direct oppression and complete deprivation of freedom — from families in India, to young girls in Cambodia, to helpless boys in Ghana.
Slavery is real and more prevalent than ever. In the words of Gary Haugen, founder of the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization, International Justice Mission:
“Slavery today looks like a little girl named Mien, locked in the back room of a brothel, owned as property for paying customers to rape. Slavery today looks like a man named Boola, trapped in a brick factory with hundreds of other men, women, and children facing the daily brutality of their owner. Slavery today looks like human traffickers throwing their heads back in laughter at the prosperity of their trade and the power they wield. Slave owners, human traffickers – they wake up today and every day focused and relentless in their abuse and exploitation. But they will only prosper in their trade if they continue to get away with the crimes they are committing.”
Church, we cannot turn our eyes from these atrocities.
The truth of the matter is that the God whom we love and serve is a God of justice. Throughout the Bible we see Him take up the cause of the oppressed and marginalized, and call His people to join in the good fight.
Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun I saw the tears of the oppressed — and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors — and they have no comforter. Ecclesiastes 4:1
You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror. Psalm 10:17–18
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:17
So now what is our role? We must step into that which is hard in order to walk through into that which is glorious. We must face these unpleasant truths on our knees in prayer. We must live out the words of Micah 6:8 to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
And God is working.
In 1981, Mauritania became the last country in the world to abolish slavery, making it a crime in 2007. We live in a unique era when for the first time in history, slavery is illegal EVERYWHERE in the world.
We live in an era when slavery has the potential to be eradicated forever.
The Church played an important role in ending the transatlantic slave trade in the 1800s. Then, when it appeared slavery was abolished, it seemed to go to sleep on the issue. Now, when there are more people in slavery today than ever before and God is making it possible for the first time in history to end slavery for good, it is time for the church to wake up from its 19th century slumber.
As Frederick Douglass preached over a hundred sixty years ago,
“Let the people of God array their immense powers against slavery and slave-holding; and the whole system of crime and blood would be scattered to the winds.”
May we cry out to the Lord for justice and pray for the oppressed. May we pray for governing institutions to enforce the laws against slavery and end the culture of impunity where slaveholders are unrestrained. May we pray for organizations like International Justice Mission that are on the frontlines of this battle. May we give generously. May we pray until all are free.
International Justice Mission (IJM), the largest anti-slavery organization in the world, is a Christian-based organization. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with them during my time overseas and have seen how they saturate everything they do in prayer—building in 30 minutes of silence at the beginning of each workday and holding office-wide devotionals at noon. They are committed to doing good with excellence; their models are intensively backed by research, winning the respect of government institutions worldwide. Passionate that the church should be on the forefront of ending slavery once and for all and that abolition can only happen through God’s power and the voice of his people, IJM has initiated a worldwide “Freedom Sunday” movement. Thousands of churches across the world are dedicating a portion of their Sunday service on September 25th. Let us join in with the prayers of the saints.
For more information about IJM and the movement to end slavery, see the links below.
WAYS TO GET INVOLVED
CURRENT PRAYER REQUESTS FROM IJM
Prayer for Love: Ask God to give IJM staff a great love for one another, for the victims that they serve, and for those they comfort.
Prayer for Perseverance: Ask God to bless IJM staff with perseverance to seek justice and community transformation in the face of oppression, indifference, and corruption.
Prayer for Protection: Ask God to protect IJM staff, their families, and the victims of injustice from physical harm and spiritual attack.