The red X is a visual reminder of one of the ugliest truths about our world today. 27 million people live in slavery. More than at the time of the Civil War. More than at any other time in history. The End It Movement is a coalition of abolitionist groups that are seeking to raise awareness of this shameful truth that most of us would rather ignore.
I would rather ignore it. Statistics are kind of abstract, and numbers are fuzzy for me, so even though for much of my life I've heard phrases like "slave labor" and "sweatshops" and "human trafficking" thrown around, I never really gave it much thought. Not much real thought, anyway. But over the last couple of years, God has continued to confront me with the plight of the poor and powerless all over the globe. He cares deeply for them...men, women and children made in his image...suffering in bondage and disease and poverty. And because they are his passion, they should be my passion, too.
It is so hard to think about, and some days, I don't. I get so wrapped up in my own glamorous life of dishes, laundry, and driving to umpteen different activities that I don't give it a thought. But more and more often, I do think about it. And I know I'm not alone. I have this small circle of friends whom God seems to be calling on the same spiritual journey and we keep encouraging (or daring) one another to read these books, to check out these websites, to learn more and it is getting harder and harder to not think about it. To not think about who made the clothes my kids are wearing. To not wonder what little child's hands mined the mica so my eyeshadow can sparkle. To not think about who harvested the coffee beans or cocoa beans (chocolate. why chocolate?)
I have this sick feeling a lot, and I'm not sure if it's a fire in my belly or a developing ulcer, but I the more I read and the more I learn about 27 million people enslaved, some right here in the United States, the less I can bring myself to ignore it. And there is so much more. 140 million orphans. 22 thousand children who die every day from hunger and preventable disease. 34 million people with HIV, including 3 million children.
It is overwhelming and I feel helpless. My sphere of influence is so small: my family, church friends, homeschool group, a couple hundred friends on facebook, and the three or four people who read this blog. That's it. I have no great platform, and I am not at all sure that any of my "audience" wants to hear this, anyway. But as I was reminded in Bible study last night, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22). And it says over and over again that we are to help the poor, care for the widow and orphan and seek justice for the oppressed.
"Nothing happens just because we are aware of modern slavery, but nothing will EVER happen until we are." -Gary Haugen, International Justice Mission President & Founder
Anything I do is a drop in the bucket, but if you've ever put a bucket under a dripping ceiling, you also know that drop by drop, eventually the bucket fills and spills over. All of our drops in a bucket can make a difference in the lives of real people around the world.
A great place to start is www.slaveryfootprint.org.