Human trafficking is a massive, global problem.
Often, when fighting injustice, we want to do massive, global things so we can see massive, global results. In the hum-drum of daily life, the earth-shaking solutions can be so seemingly small that we write them off as unimportant. Like Naaman, we want to do the big things–not take a dip in the Jordan River.
However, the actions that have the most impact stem from a foundation of small things: our unseen thoughts. These thoughts are the building blocks of our lives, and with the help of the Lord, it’s only by first stacking truths together in our minds that any worthy action is done.
In the case of fighting modern slavery, the first building block is recognizing that every human being has inherent worth. Devaluing a group of people is at the root of every great atrocity perpetrated against humanity. Think of the African slave trade. The Holocaust. The 9/11 terrorist attacks. The mass shooting in Orlando’s night club. The current billion dollar business of selling girls for sex.
These colossal horrors start with small thoughts, but instead of stacking truths, these criminals stack lies. Lies like Jews aren’t quite human, or that women are disposable.
Giving humans intrinsic worth goes beyond philanthropy.
Sure, money can do a lot. A lack of financial resources is one thing that makes someone vulnerable to traffickers. But a lack of community and social support is another key factor.
Valuing a person means being willing to extend hands of helping and arms of comforting. It means being a listening ear when you’re tired, or giving words of hope to a broken soul. Sometimes, helping someone out of the dirt means getting dirty yourself. And that’s okay.
Traffickers prefer to prey on the vulnerable, because they are most easily exploited. How many vulnerable people do you know? Probably more than you think. The first grader who gets picked on at recess. The homeless woman with unkempt hair. The insecure teenage girl who craves love and acceptance. The refugee family who just moved in down the street.
When we meet the Rahabs and lepers and widows of our day, do we invite them to our table or show them the door?
Our natural reaction is to shun these people.
We ignore the boy getting bullied, because we don’t want to become the victim ourselves. We avoid eye contact with the homeless man on the street corner. We’re afraid of certain groups of people after being blasted with tragic news stories. We’re afraid of feeling unsafe, so we don’t venture out to make others feel safe.
Why do we always think about ourselves first?
If we, as Christians, aren’t the first to reach out to the vulnerable, you can be absolutely certain that other people will–people with less than pure intentions. Traffickers often put on the sheep’s clothing of “benefactor.” They shower attention on young girls desperate for love, offer “jobs” to those desperate for work, give money to those desperate for food…you can guess how many of those stories end.
When we don’t put others first, and when we don’t reach out, what we’re really saying is that we think we’re better. Our comforts are more important. We deserve more. As if some human beings are worth more than others.
The good news is that Jesus thought the thoughts we were supposed to think.
He lived the life we were supposed to live, died the death we were condemned to die, and rose again so that He could give us the grace and power to be evermore and increasingly like Him!
This includes thinking the right thoughts about people.
Instead of seeing refugees as a political problem, view them as what they are: people made in the image of God. Instead of seeing the homeless as devaluing the public streets, view them as what they are: men and women through whom God can show His attributes. Instead of seeing foster kids as too much baggage to bring into your home, view them as what they are: children whom God wants to give new life.
Since every person is valuable, it follows that the modern day slavery of human beings is worth fighting against. See how I stacked two truths there? Now you try.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35