Slavery in America: The Year of Jubilee

The following was originally posted March 29, 2010. It's being reposted here today as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. In 2010, I wrote a series of blogs titled Slavery in America. This particular blog in the series is on worship and jubilee. 

On the way to church this morning, my mom and brother and I talked about how our world would be so different today if we still practiced Jubilee. We talked about how great it would feel to have our debt wiped away and the opportunities we’d be given if only it were still practiced today.

Directly after the service, I ran into a friend of mine who I traveled with to Malawi in the summer of 2008. It had been a few months since we’d run into each other. It was great to see him. He shared with us that he had been in our neck of the woods earlier in the week and had thought of me while nearby. He drew out the night and day differences between the area where I live and the area where we were attending church. He asked me, “Why aren’t we hanging out with the people who live in your neighborhood more?”

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Slavery in America: A Conversation with International Justice Mission

In honor of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, this is a repost of an interview held with International Justice MIssion staff member Lauren Johnson in early 2010. IJM currently is one of the world leaders in combatting slavery today. 

 

Last month I visited the International Justice Mission headquarters, not far from the Pentagon and just outside our nation’s capitol.  It was a beautiful day. The air was crisp and cool and the ground layered with the remnants of the recent snow storm.

Inside IJM headquarters - aka HQ -, you’ll find a quant, but inspirational photo gallery. The walls are lined with telling photographs of beautiful people who are part of IJM’s work abroad. Each face on each photo tells a different story of survival, of redemption and of justice at work.

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The Road to Justice Begins at a Stop Sign

Have you ever broken a bone? I have. When I was 11 or 12 years old I broke a finger playing in what was likely a fierce game of handball. You read that right. I was one of the cool kids who played handball in elementary school (green with envy? I thought so).

The thing with breaks is, in order for them to heal correctly, they need to be reset, realigned or readjusted to the way they were designed.

When I first learned of the realities of modern day slavery, it felt like a bad break. How could things be so off set, out of order, out of place and in desperate need of healing and resetting? I felt a burning rage boil up in my gut and an overwhelming desire to barge into a brothel or brick kiln to rescue the oppressed and give the oppressor a piece of my mind, or, let's be honest, my once broken middle finger gesture.

Rescued from Hell on Disneylands Doorstep

"Once we started looking for it - and almost stopped ignoring it - we started finding it everywhere."  - Sergeant Craig Friesen, head of Anaheim's vice unit. 

The CNN Freedom Project site headlined an incredible story of justice and bravery today. The setting of the story told is geographically in my backyard. Literally steps from the “the happiest place on Earth” (Disneyland, Anaheim), a 17-year old girl was trapped hell on Earth; child prostitution.  Friesen, working as an undercover, arranged to meet the child at the Disneyland Hotel for what she thought was a typical day in her life servicing “Johns” with sex. God had a different plan in store for her today! Friesen and his team from Anaheim PD showed up, arrested the pimp and treated the girl, and another girl they were able to locate, as victims of human trafficking and not as criminal prostitutes.  

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Ray of Hope: Suhana's Story

The International Justice Mission has released a new short film in which, Suhana, a young human trafficking victim in India, has transformed into a survivor of the slave trade; not once, but twice. This is her miracle:

 

CNN Announces Launch of The Freedom Project

Tony Maddox, CNN International Executive Vice President and managing director was quoted today saying, “It’s our journalism-based assertion that this [human trafficking] is the greatest uncovered news story of today, and CNN plans to rip the lid off.”

 

CNN’s effort to “rip the lid off” begins with the official launch of The Freedom Project. The site will include regular features such as tracking the numbers of people currently enslaved, solutions to the issues and success stories of survivors and organizations committed to ending the world’s problem of human trafficking.

 
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World Changers

And so it has begun.

I am actually a huge World Cup fan, so if you’re looking for some good ol’ fashioned soccer trashing, you’ll have to go somewhere else. Not too many days ago, I heard a sports talk radio guy say that he didn’t like any sport where you have to “understand the intricacies” in order to appreciate it.

Heaven forbid we’ve got to think about our sports! After all, they’re supposed to be stress-relievers. (Dare you to make that argument to a soccer mom who’s on her ninth practice of the week, by the way!)

The fact is the good folks at FIFA and ESPN would like you to believe that sports—and especially the World Cup—go far beyond a little bit of stress relief. Soccer/football (a nod to those who know what the game is really called), they say, is capable of changing the world itself. The Cup will unite us and inspire us and cause all aspects of life to appear rosier in most every way. If I sound like I’m exaggerating, note that I am simply echoing what the TV and radio ads have been telling me for several weeks.

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The World Cup at Night

ESPN has a done an impressive job of heightening the concerns of human trafficking centered around the current World Cup games in S. Africa. This series of videos (there are 3) they have released are worthy of view. Please check them out and learn about the after hours when the games end for the day. It's unbelievable what is taking place there.

Check out the videos here.

Is Ignorance Really Bliss? I'm Not So Sure

As the saying goes, “ignorance is bliss.” I can’t help but wonder though, “is it really?”

I used to pride myself on my travels to developing countries. I felt cultured and well rounded; experienced ya know?

I had tea with the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I helped build 6 homes in 4 days in Tecate, Mexico. I spent 6 weeks in the Eastern European country Moldova by myself. In Romanian I hung out with gypsy children and sewer kids. In Malawi I held abandoned infants and walked miles through villages with teenager head of households. In South Africa I watched the sun rise while on Safari.

I’ve gained a lot through those travels. I learned a lot. I grew a lot as a person and as a person who believes in the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’m thankful for those times spent in foreign lands and among foreign people. I have witnessed both pain and joy within every people group I have been among.

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Slavery in America: Prostitutes or Slaves?

When I first began writing about slavery in America, I identified the different types of slavery that exist today. In posts past, I have talked a bit about domestic slavery, bonded labor slavery, I've brought attention to some organizations who are combating slavery today and I have mentioned just briefly what the Bible has to say about injustice and slavery. There is however, a component to modern day slavery that I have been somewhat hesitant to write on. Hesitant because I am really unqualified to speak about it intelligently and because it's an area where there remains in debate.

By the title of this blog you know I am talking about the sexual exploitation of children happening in America that unfortunately makes up a vast majority of the prostitution in our city streets. 

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