There are at least 27 million slaves in the world today. Slavery permeates everything from our cell phones, to our clothing, to coffee, chocolate, and tires.
Slavery is not just an “over there” issue of poor Thai girls caught up in forced sex slavery, or boy soldiers in Uganda. Slavery also exists in our backyards. The U.S. State Department in their annual Trafficking in Persons Report states that at least 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year.
I am personally and professionally challenged by the evil of modern slavery. I am sickened by the statistics and images.
Compelled to do something, I have to ask questions about my lifestyle and my community. As a homeowner in Snohomish County and as a clergy person in Lake Stevens I wonder if there is slavery here in Lake Stevens.
The sad truth is that there probably is slavery right in my backyard. What then should we do? First, we can’t deny that slavery exists or that we are powerless against it. Slavery exists. The abolitionist movement of the 19th century, in one generation, challenged the enormous, entrenched business of slavery and abolished it. We can finish the job in our generation. We can re-abolish slavery in our lifetime. Second, we can learn more by studying the issue, reading books about modern slavery, and by visiting a website like: www.notforsalecampaign.org.
Third, we can talk about it among our friends, family, faith communities, and civic organizations. Local leaders and clubs, our faith communities, and our public schools should all be challenged to explore the issues and take concrete steps to protect the vulnerable, prosecute the perpetrators, create just laws, and unite our entire society against this evil.
Fourth, we need to move beyond awareness and talk to action. On September 18 we can join with hundreds of people walking for Freedom in Lake Stevens. Find out more at www.lakesidecf.com.
Fifth, we can meet with others who are deeply concerned and ready to take action. Lakeside Community Fellowship is hosting a variety of meetings and activities the weekend of Sept. 17. Also, there will be a “Slave Free Snohomish County” organizational meeting on October 2, 9 a.m. at Lakeside. See more about these events at: www.lakesidecf.com.
Let us be a community characterized by these words: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31: 8 & 9)