Monday, February 19, 2007

How Sweet the Sound...

...and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? --Micah 6:8

On Sunday, February 18, more than 5,000 churches in 50 states and 10 provinces marked the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade by singing "Amazing Grace," providing information about modern-day slavery, and signing petitions to end the practice. The event was organized by Walden Media and Bristol Bay Productions, who will release the film Amazing Grace: The William Wilberforce Story in theaters on Friday, February 23rd. The same event will take place in the United Kingdom on March 25, 2007.

When the congregations I serve decided to participate in this event, I had no idea that slavery was so widespread. According to National Geographic, in 2003 there were some 27 million people living in slavery. A recent U.S. Department of State report (2006) notes that in 2005, "cases of forced labor were documented in 112 countries." One of the most common forms of slavery, human trafficking in the commercial sex trade, generates some $9.5 billion dollars each year (Trafficking in Persons Report, 2005) enlisting and violating about two million children (UNICEF, 2006). For people of God, these statistics, and the fate of the people behind them are unconscionable. As stewards of time, talent, and resources, there is much that we can do individually and corporately.

First, and foremost, we can pray that God will inspire and equip leaders in government, in the Church, and in all segments of society to combat modern slavery and advocate for basic human dignity and rights for all people. We can pray for relief and comfort for those awaiting rescue and for full restoration of those who are fortunate enough to be rescued. We can pray for prophets who will hold us accountable to the biblical mandate for Christians to seek justice and rescue the oppressed (Isaiah 1:17) and to use their resources to this end. As long as one person is bound in slavery, people of God must be committed to prayer and action.

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