For far too many, it is freedom
The following post comes from CBF field personnel Cindy Ruble.
What do you want for Christmas? It is a question many of us hear around this time of the year. Our children often make out their Christmas lists dreaming of new dolls, bikes, games, and electronics while many children and adults in the world simply dream of freedom – freedom from sixteen hour work days, freedom from the pain of abuse, freedom to choose what to eat, freedom to leave a job that has become a nightmare with no end in sight.
There are 27 million slaves in the world today. Some are right in front of our faces. They are here where I live in Malaysia and in America where many of you live. 17,500 people a year are trafficked into the U.S. They work in restaurants, fields, hotels, factories, and homes. Some are labeled prostitutes and criminalized when in reality, they are victims, often children, who were trafficked, “seasoned,” and forced to sell their bodies.
Recently, we worked with a local non-profit here in Malaysia to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. We called our Anti-Trafficking event Freedom Saturday. Freedom Saturday coincided with the arrival of three Freedom Cyclists who were raising awareness about Human Trafficking by cycling from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Phuket, Thailand. They made a stop in Penang and we used the occasion to expand awareness here. Over 145 local cyclists joined in, sporting our shirts saying, Freedom Saturday: Stop Human Trafficking in Penang. Over 100 people marched in our Freedom Walk. We gave out over 400 Freedom Saturday Eco-Resource Bags filled with information on Human Trafficking locally and globally. Non-profits from Penang and Kuala Lumpur set up information booths. Students created incredible pieces of artwork to raise awareness about Human Trafficking. Other students wrote and performed a short drama to help us see and hear about the horrors of trafficking.
You might ask what all this has to do with a baby named Jesus born at Christmas. What does this have to do with those of us who are followers of Christ? Jesus calls us to proclaim freedom to the captives and to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18). He teaches us that we are not to just walk on by like the Priest and the Levite in the Good Samaritan story. We are to open our eyes to the needs around us, to draw close, to bring our resources to bear, to take care of the wounded, and to follow up until we know the injured one is okay. Our God is God of Justice who cares about hurting people. Our God is a God who tells us, “This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts (Isaiah 58:6-9).
All trafficked people are caught in the chains of injustice. Many are exploited in their workplaces, sixteen to eighteen hour workdays, never paid, never have a day off, beaten for their mistakes or deprived of food as punishment. Many are in debt bondage that has no end. Worse yet, debt bondage is often intergenerational. Children and grandchildren are born into a life of slavery to repay the debts of their parents and grandparents.
This Christmas, would you consider giving the gift of freedom? Help us set the captives free by supporting our anti-trafficking efforts. Our Human Trafficking Awareness and Aid Fund helped put anti-trafficking resources into the hands of over 400 people on Freedom Saturday. Once we have “eyes to see,” we are much more likely to recognize a victim of human trafficking: to see the boy in the field who is not free to leave, to see the foreign worker in the restaurant who is afraid to talk to anyone when the boss is around, to see the “prostitute” who is not servicing customers by choice, but by force, and who no longer tries to escape because her self-esteem is so low, she doesn’t believe she is good for anything else.
Seeing, really seeing, can move our hearts to action. The baby Jesus we honor this season grew into Christ the Liberator and called us to join him in freeing the oppressed. Will you join us in liberating the victims of human trafficking and preventing more men, women, and children from falling prey to the lures of the traffickers? When you give to our Human Trafficking Awareness and Aid Fund (Project #81962) or give to the Global Missions Offering, you empower us to stop human trafficking and help the victims. You become part of a movement to free the oppressed. Somehow that seems like a very appropriate gift for the One who later said, “What you do for the least of these, you do for me” (Matthew 25:40).