The other day I heard something that completely shocked me. Today, around the world, it is estimated that there are 27 million slaves. 27 million. Today. I knew slavery was still a problem, but I had no idea it was that big. That’s more slaves than there has ever been at any point in history. Including when there was a legal slave trade. It is enough people that if they were their own country it would have the 45th largest population in the world. It is shocking, and it is reality.
It is estimated that 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. 70% of those are female. 50% are children. The average price of a slave today is a mere $90. In 1809 when the slave trade was “abolished” a slave cost $40,000 when adjusted to today’s value.
Many of the slaves today are caught up in the sex industry. Maybe you have seen the great, powerful movie Taken, where criminals prey on young girls, abducting them, plying them with drugs and then pimping them out. It is an unfortunate reality, and the victims are trafficked to brothels across the world. There are probably some in your home city, and for them there will be no Liam Neeson saviour to come and look for, find and kill the criminals. Unless we do something.
So often I have written here about the need to live out our faith, to put it into action, to advance the kingdom. But usually it has been just vague talk. There has been no practical thing to do to achieve that. It is time for change. God does not fill us so we can sit around getting spiritually fat. He wants to stir us into action.
In James 1:27 we are told that “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” God wants us to care for those who are in distress, to stand against the corrupt ways of the world. In Isaiah 1:17 God tells us “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” And later in chapter 58 we are told that God wants us to “stop oppressing those who work for you. Treat them fairly and give them what they earn.” It is clear God has a strong heart for those who are oppressed and forced into slavery. And as we strive to be ambassadors of Christ, carrying His likeness to the world we need to have a heart for slaves too. We need to be their voice. Proverbs 31:8 instructs us to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those who are perishing”. We have 27 million reasons to care, 27 million reasons to fight for the rights of the oppressed, 27 million people to speak up for, 27 million people to ensure justice for.
So here’s where it gets practical. There is an organisation, A21 Campaign, that has been doing some great work in raising awareness and helping those caught up in slavery, and they have a great list of 21 things people like you and me can do. Things like write letters to encourage those who have been rescued. Things like informing your friends. Things like praying. Check their site for the full list. (At the end of February Matt Redman and LZ7 are releasing a single for them called 27Million – it is going to be released to mainstream radio – listen out for it, it is pretty sweet.)
CNN has also put together a great list of organisations working in countries around the world to do something to help people caught up in slavery that you can support. They also have a list of global organisations that work around the world to fight human trafficking. Check out the lists, and consider supporting some of these organisations, either with money or with your voice by raising awareness. (NB these organisations may not all be “Christian” but are all doing great things for the cause of people trapped in slavery)
There are more slaves today than there has been at any stage in history. If that outrages you, that people made in the image of God are being abused like that, it is time to do something. It is time to take a stand. There are 27 million reasons to act. Let’s get on it!
(Source for facts in this post: CNN)