Saturday, August 19, 2006

From the Presbyterian Global Fellowship -- conviction about justice

She was a young Christian woman whose only desire was to go to Bible college and learn to be a teacher -- she was tricked by a family member into being sold to a human trafficker who sold her to a brother. And there she languished, tenaciously clinging to faith, scribbling the words of Psalm 27 on the walls: "The Lord i smy light and my salvation -- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of myh life -- of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall." She tried to get the other women to pray with her, but they told her that God didn't hear in this forsaken brothel visited by western johns looking for adventure.....

He was the head of his household in a rural land -- 9 relatives depended on him to make the living. A stranger had come talking of a new job in a nearby village where he could make more money. He packed up his family and moved -- only to find that the stranger had a band of thugs who seized the whole family and enslaved them. He watched his children and relatives be forced into hard labor with little provision. He wept as the thugs gang raped the women in his family. And late one night, he couragouesly led the whole family into escape. The stranger's thugs seized two of his other relatives from a nearby village and held them hostage, torturing them until the refugees would return.....

He had only a dollar in his pocket, but the five drunken policemen seized him, demanding all his money. He was in a rural backwater of a third world country, so he couldn't refuse, for might made right. As he was released, one officer shot him, just for fun. The hospital had to amputate the arm. The officers had to charge him with something, so they threw him in jail for armed robbery, a crime punishable by death in his homeland......

Sharon Cohn of International Justice Mission shared these stories with us. She shared with us the statistics that there are 27 million people in slavery in the world today -- more than ever in the history of the world (more even than during the height of institutional slavery in the 18th century). These slaves generate more than 13 billion dollars a year for organized crime and shady interests.

I had been aware of these statistics. World Magazine has run story after story on human trafficking and the need for the church to respond. But the problem seems so huge. We read the commands to care for the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. We read the prophetic challenge to rescue the captive from the oppressor -- and we look about our comfortable environment and spiritualize it. It's an easy out to say that the prophet was talking about Jesus coming to spiritually liberate us from the bondage to sin. That is true; yet His liberating us is also the vehicle He uses to send us. And this morning we were challenged to speak on behalf of the weak who are illegally being sold into slavery, prostitution, and oppression.

How can we bond our voices together to tell the world that Jesus Christ so cares for the captive? How can we be instruments that God uses to make good on those words from Psalm 27? I'm not sure, but I'm going to be spending time over the next few weeks learning from International Justice Mission and Voice of the Martyrs to see how I can personally help in some small way -- and I'll be thinking and talking with Tammy about how we can help as a family.

Sharon shared with us the rest of the story for the three mentioned above. International Justice Mission investigated the case of the man who was robbed by the police and they won his freedom. He went on to study law and learned to write with his left arm. He says that he's going to work in law, seeking to advance to the high courts "and then evil will have a new enemy"

The hostages were found by International Justice Mission and they were freed -- the stranger who enslaved that family has been apprehended and jailed.

The young woman in the brothel was found by an International Justice Mission investigator and rescued -- the brothel owner was jailed. When Sharon last visited with the young woman, she asked if they could pray over Psalm 27 together -- the young woman replied that Psalm 27 was her theme for imprisonment, but not for her freedom. Now her theme was Psalm 34: "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame...."

Amen and Amen

Soli Deo Gloria