Slavery? Still?

Pinch me, please, and remind me that we live in 2012.  Remind me that slavery was abolished in most northern American states in 1783 after the American Revolution. Remind me that the Constitution’s 13th amendment – which abolished slavery in the entire United States -  was ratified in 1865.

How then can slavery still exist in the United States?

It does.

Not only does it exist “somewhere” in the United States, it happens in my state – in my city.  And that makes me so, so sad.  The quote below is taken from an article in today’s online edition of the Twin Cities Daily Planet:

…because of a large immigrant population, northern ports, and a long border with Canada, Minnesota has become one of the areas most heavily targeted as a spot for labor and sexual trafficking.

This is happening in my state, in my city – maybe on my block for all I know.

In fact, it has even bumped into my professional world.  One of my truancy cases turned out to be much more complicated than a student simply not logging on to her computer to do school work.  As the case unraveled, truancy was the least of our concerns as it became evident that this young lady was a victim of the sex trade and human trafficking.  To this day, I wonder what the outcome of the situation was.  I can only hope, only pray, that redemption was part of her story.

IMG-20120515-00476

A few years ago, through one of those “God” moments where people come into your life and stay…and you are thankful, I was invited to attend a fundraiser/awareness/info night for International Justice Mission.  If you want to hear the back story of the woman who was at the bottom of this, click here and read.  But – that night planted a seed in me to know more and to consider how I might do more.  It has taken some time, and I am still not sure what this means for me personally or for our family collectively…but we continue to seek what God has for us in this area.

Last night, my family joined 500 other people at a celebration and awareness event held by International Justice Mission at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis.  The most compelling part of the night for me was that we were shown the new film put out by IJM: At the End of Slavery.  The film highlights the work being done around the world to combat slavery and human trafficking.  It also reveals the overwhelming number of people in bondage for various reasons.

There is a great need as human lives is now the third most “sold” commodity after drugs and arms.

Our family has attempted to learn more about this great need.  In fact, my husband and a team of concerned peeps have even brought information about IJM to our church through the annual Freedom Sunday services.  According to IJM and US state department statistics, millions of people remain in the grip of slavery around the world and in our own country.  While IJM works almost exclusively in international fields by training local law enforcers, supporting investigators, and creating a collaborative model including aftercare for victims, other agencies such as Breaking Free in Minneapolis/St Paul work inside the United States in similar models.  Check into a “men only” organization – MATTOO-  that is demanding change as well.

How can this still be happening? In 2012?

In his speech to the Anti-Slavery Society following the close of the Civil War, Frederick Douglass warned them – and warns us – that slavery will not go away:

It has been called by a great many names, and it will call itself by yet another name; and you and I and all of us had better wait and see what new form this old monster will assume, in what new skin this old snake will come forth.

He was right.  The old snake has new skin, and that monster is destroying the lives of men, women, and children here in our country and in countries around the world.

As we left last night, our family realized that awareness is truly a first step, and we are beyond that step now.  We need to move into the action stage.

Awareness is an important first step in getting rid of human slavery and human trafficking.

  • Do we know that this is happening? 

  • Do we care?

  • Do we pray for their freedom?

  • Do we see it happening in our cities?  Would we know how to recognize it?

  • For more information about awareness, see the IJM website.

Action is needed in this issue.  How can you act?

  • Share your vision with others and raise awareness in those who have not heard about this horrible reality.  You could host a screening of the film that we saw! Click herefor more information.
  • Prayer is vital.  Battles must be fought in person, and those battles need prayer support.
  • Funding is necessary.  Be creative and think outside the box – how could you support IJM?
  • Consider a career with IJM.

As a family, we are unsure what our action will be.  Joining in the prayer time last night should not be the last prayer moment that we have on behalf of those who fight slavery.  How can we mobilize our community and our friends to see this as an issue worth writing to their congress-person about?  How can we heighten awareness in the people whom we see every day in our schools and work places?

What is our next step?

That is the question for us to day….is it a question for you as well?

Leave a Reply