“Human trafficking is a modern-day slave trade. It violates human rights and exploits innocent people”
– Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, president, sixty-first session, U.N. General Assembly.
Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Millions of men, women and children, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), whom God loves and for whom Jesus Christ died (Romans 5:8), are sold illegally for commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. 27 million people; two million children in forced prostitution. More are enslaved every day; more every minute. It is a $32 billion dollar industry. 161 countries (including the U.S.) out of 192 (84% of the countries of the world) are involved in human trafficking. 62 countries have never convicted a single human trafficker; 104 countries have no law or regulations prohibiting this hideous practice. These are the extraordinarily unpleasant and brutal facts. The voice of God in Scripture is unambiguous regarding such atrocity.
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoner.
Pray Psalm 10 in light of the plight of the millions of modern day slaves.
Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? 2 In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor-- let them be caught in the schemes they have devised. 3 For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart, those greedy for gain curse and renounce the LORD. 4 In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, “God will not seek it out”; all their thoughts are, “There is no God.” 5 Their ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of their sight; as for their foes, they scoff at them. 6 They think in their heart, “We shall not be moved; throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity.” 7 Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under their tongues are mischief and iniquity. 8 They sit in ambush in the villages; in hiding places they murder the innocent. Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; 9 they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert; they lurk that they may seize the poor; they seize the poor and drag them off in their net. 10 They stoop, they crouch, and the helpless fall by their might. 11 They think in their heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” 12 Rise up, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed. 13 Why do the wicked renounce God, and say in their hearts, “You will not call us to account”? 14 But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan. 15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers; seek out their wickedness until you find none. 16 The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land. 17 O LORD, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear 18 to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more.
The Psalmist wrote in a time of distress. His enemies were rebels against the Lord God. Deception and evil were rampant. David prayed and meditated upon God’s nature. He was no stranger to time with God. From the very beginning there has been a battle between good and evil, love and hate, between and justice and injustice. The battle continues. David’s battle is our battle. Prayerful hearts are aware of sin. Inward life with God leads to outward action on behalf of others.
In many instances it is appropriate to study scripture in solitude, as well as in a group. Consider studying the very important issue of human trafficking with a group in your church, or in some other setting of Christian fellowship.
Read what the Bible teaches regarding the dignity of humanity in these passages (together with their surrounding verses) Genesis 1:27; Galatians 3:28; Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:15. Add others you know to this list. In what ways does the practice human trafficking violate the will of God?
The experience of slavery was not unknown to God’s people. The story of the Exodus, told in the Book of Exodus and retold in the Book of Deuteronomy, is all about God setting God’s people free. Review the Exodus story as time and interest dictate and reflect on God’s desire to liberate people from bondage, especially literal slavery.
Memorize this verse:
Rise up, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed.
The practice of human trafficking breaks God’s heart. It needs to break our heart as well. The 19th-century abolitionist William Wilberforce discerned his Christian vocation to work for the abolition of slavery in the late 18th century. The Bible calls every Christian in the 21st to resume this work and to live in opposition to human trafficking. Consider as guidance for your life these two exhortations from Scripture:
Hear the word of the Lord ... Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed.
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
In Isaiah 1:17 God calls us to learn to do good, to learn to rescue the oppressed. If ever there were a clearly oppressed population in the world, it is those sold into human bondage. Matthew 5: 14-16 emphasizes further the plight of children who are made sex slaves.
Sources: Free the Slaves, UNICEF, International Labor Organization
PC(USA) Human Trafficking website