As February 27th approaches, my heart continues to carry the burden of the millions of souls who are enslaved around the globe. When February 27th was first picked to be a day of awareness for human trafficking, there were only a reported estimation of 27 million enslaved. Today, there are over 45 million reported souls who are bound in slavery, and counting.
I’m not here to over dramatize, or evoke a fake emotional response. I’m here to tell you that right now, this is going on in our countries, our cities, and in our back yard and there are still people sitting across from you who have no idea. Some people have no idea that today, mothers will sell their daughters for food, fathers will sell their sons for labor, and that single mom will continue to work night life in order to care for her child. They have no idea that the t-shirt they just purchased was made by a 8-year-old boy in Thailand who is under paid and overworked. They have no idea that the porn they watched last night was made by a pimp and a girl who was conned, drugged, and abused into doing things she never imagined doing in her lifetime.
I had never heard about human trafficking until about 6 years ago when my siblings came home from a conference talking about sex-slavery and the End It movement. Though I had no idea how I could make a difference, and frankly, I believed that I couldn’t, I still found my self longing to know more about this issue. I began to do research, talk to older and wiser people in my church, and began to realize just how big this problem is. The magnitude of evil and injustice was overbearing and I felt like I was helpless.
This is exactly the point that I think that many people in the church are stuck in today, and an attitude that I have to daily ask to be pulled away from. The weight of 45+ million slaves is a heavy one and I’m afraid that we all struggle with entering into the mentality that this is something we carry alone. This is exactly what Satan longs the church to rest in. Satan has power in our loneliness, and especially in the moments of darkness when we refuse to turn on the light.
And that is my plea to you today—that you would turn on the light. February 27th isn’t a day that is going to end all slavery just because we choose to draw a red X on our hand. February 27th is a powerful day though. It is a day in which you are making an intentional decision to spread awareness about the injustice that is flooding our streets. But it goes much farther than awareness; there must be action connected to your fight. Just like everything else in the Christian walk, we can have knowledge, but this doesn’t mean anything unless we act as a response to that knowledge. And if you’re like me, this is the hardest part of the battle. So here a few tips on how to incorporate action steps into your everyday life:
1.Educate yourself (with the right information).Here are some resources:
-Though it’s tempting to get all your information from a Facebook article, do your research. Share articles that are from valid sources, from accredited organizations that convey the right facts about modern-day slavery. Read books, contact local organizations, and find news that is current and accurate.
2.Start the conversation.Here are some resources:
-This is one of my biggest passions in the realm of justice ministry. There is so much power in just asking people what they think about modern-day slavery or if they have even heard of it before. Also, ask people who you know are more educated than you or who have been fighting for many years. There as so many people who still don’t know about this, so tell them what you know and bring them alongside of you to walk in this fight for justice.
3) Contact your local church.
-I am a firm believer that a passion for justice should be developed in the local church alongside your brothers and sisters. Make no mistake, the church cannot provide everything needed from rescue to relief, but the church can be a resource for local organizations. There are amazing organizations around you that are already doing the work, they just need someone to come along side of them, to provide funding, to provide volunteers, to provide emotional support—and that is our role. There may even be members of your church involved in this that you just haven’t met yet, so ask around! And if your church is not already involved, be the catalyst. Start education programs to help inform your local body, bring people to a relief home with you to cook or clean. Whatever it is, just do something.
Here are some resources:
-Prayer has been one of the most tangible things that I have been able to constantly do in my day to day life that keeps my mind focused on the mission ahead. But so much of the time, I forget that prayer is just as much of an action as volunteering somewhere. And in your incorporation of prayer, invite people alongside to join you in this. Teach others how you pray for the enslaved, and learn from others who have gone before you in this. Host gatherings in your home or in your church, but most importantly, host a gathering in your heart, before you go to sleep or as your brushing your teeth in the morning. Host a gathering in your heart where you are intentionally turning your eyes to the justice and mercy of God, and the faithfulness that He has promised to us. Pray for local justice ministries and global relief. Pray specifically and ask for big movements of justice.
Here are some resources:
I’m not writing all of this because I have it down perfectly—because honestly, I am no where close to that. But I do have a desire to mobilize people to help in this fight, to open eyes to the injustice around them, and to show practical ways to fight in everyday life. These steps are all things I have to continue to learn everyday. I have to remind myself to take action. But I want people who are like me to be encouraged—to know that they can do something even if justice ministry is not their full-time job or they have never heard about human trafficking, or if they don’t know anyone who they can pursue this passion with. Because I was there once, and I know what it is like, and I’m here to say that you are not alone in this. The fight is not too big when you take it one day at a time, alongside others who are fighting too. So sisters and brothers, be encouraged that this is a big task, but there is much to do. So ask around, put yourself out there, and serve with open hands, whatever that task may be, in order that all people may experience the freedom found in knowing Christ and loving Him.
Hannah Stokes is a college student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She plans on graduating in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. One day Hannah hopes to publish a book focusing on teaching women how to study the Bible and the importance of having good theology and biblical interpretation. You can check out more writings from Hannah at hannahcstokes.wordpress.com