I hope your summer is kicking off to a good start! And HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!
I wanted to share with you something that could be considered controversial, but feel it is an important topic to cover related to the issue of human trafficking. Considering our mission and purpose should always be in line with the Word of God, the Good News of the Gospel and issues relevant to the Church and its mission, I am mindful to the reality the commitments people make to either go and do, or give and send. Sometimes these commitments are consistent or most times they are fluctuating depending on the issue, the economy, timing or the pursuit of one’s passion. The motivation to these commitments can and often will be varied because of theology or doctrine, the personal tie of our passions to our life, or a general sense of doing good things for the less fortunate. Whatever the level of commitment or motivation, the task of many organizations will be to communicate a message to tug at the heartstrings to encourage people to be a solution and end the plight of misery to many less fortunate. As an organizational leader and as with many other organizational leaders, it is difficult at times to communicate properly how partner or donor dollars will resolve these multitude of problems so that it will one day be eradicated so we can get on with our happy little lives and not have to worry or work or give to these problems any longer.
Recently the Holy Spirit put something on my heart that many may or may not agree with and some might think as a bad theology. I have done some soul searching through prayer, biblical study and theological discussion with pastors and other theologians to validate and confirm this is indeed good theology. This all started with the verse from John 12:8 where Jesus says, “For the poor you will always have with you, but you do not always have me.” The always of that verse really haunted me. Most theologians reference this verse to the urgency of having a relationship with Jesus before he is at the cross, and that helping the poor could be done anytime. However, the sense I got seemed to be referenced to Revelation 21, where and only there would all weeping, sorrow, discomfort and brokenness would end. In essence the root cause of all evil, sin would be finally put to death.
Here are the revelations revealed to me through Holy Scripture concerning this viewpoint:
1) The root cause of human trafficking (sex, labor, child etc.) is not the demand for sex or cheap labor, globalization, porn, abuse or any other societal symptoms, it is sin and sin alone. We cannot put an end to sin, only Jesus ends sin. Revelation 21:1-4 speaks to this. Declaring that we have the power to end sin on a global scale is prideful and takes glory from God. Honestly, most or all of us struggle daily just to end sin in our own life. Where do we go to end the sin in our lives? Our only solution is to go to the cross, and only to the cross.
2) Next, when we declare that together we can accomplish ending trafficking, it borders on a very dangerous area of attempting to make a name for ourselves. There is a fine line drawn here for us to walk. Bobbie and I am constantly aware of people regarding our experience and passion in restoration work as a marvelous, wonderful calling and give us credit for being experts and excellent examples of how people should work in this issue. WE are not an example of what it means to be a servant, Christ alone is the example, and He alone gets the credit for what we accomplish. Again pride is dangerous and will look like we are muscling in on God’s glory. Read Genesis 11:1-9 – God does not share glory.
3) Our only assignment is to have an obedient love, not to solve. We are commanded to love, care for and lessen the suffering of those abused, those who are outcast and victimized by either doing or sending. Obedience is a funny thing, most will categorize our doing or sending based on things associated from a worldview, not a biblical one. Some want to see results before they give, and this approach leaves us not using faith, but sight to our obedience. WE are to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (in Love) Micah 6:8.
4) Finally, the reality of trafficking, while different, is similar to other societal woes affecting many millions of people around the planet such as poverty, access to clean water, and homelessness that cannot be ended with popular slogans or half-hearted efforts to assuage our true responsibilities. And as all of these are a result of sin (greed, lust, covetousness and others that stem from idolatry), to claim that we can end trafficking would mean that we would have to eradicate it from every nook and cranny of the world. As of 2011, the population of Dalits (slaves) in India could be counted greater than 200 million, a rise of 35 million in the decade between 2001 and 2011. Bonded slavery and indentured servitude was made illegal in India to end this practice in 1976. I’m not surprised, are you?
After discussing this topic with some pastors, I read the book by Aaron Armstrong called Awaiting a Savior. This book primarily addresses the topic of poverty, but the content and context could be applied to any issue we fight against in the world today. Ending slavery in all of its forms and the other crimes against humanity will ONLY end with the return of Jesus. We are simply to be obedient to alleviate the effects of these crimes and point them to the cross where our ONLY hope is found in ending sin.
We as an organization will no longer use the catch phrase, tag line or sound bite “End Human Trafficking” or any varieties of this phrase. Our purpose is to serve the broken and abused and give them hope, the hope of glory.
While we are moving away from this term, phrase or tag line, it is important to know and let others know that we DO reduce reactively and proactively the possibility, effects and results of trafficking through awareness, engagement, restoration and empowerment. While we cannot end it, we can affect change in our churches, communities and society to the reality of the darkness of human trafficking.
Thank you for serving along side us by either doing or giving to help heal the hurts caused by exploitation at so many levels.