Raleigh Sadler

Jesus Lover. Justice seeker.

USA

(347)927-1692

Standing On The Gospel To Stand Against Exploitation

12 Ways To Fight Human Trafficking Today

Human Trafficking or modern day slavery as it has been called, is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, according to the US Department of Justice. The International Labor Organization estimates that “of the 21 million in forced labour 70% are in forced labour exploitation and 22% are in forced sexual exploitation.” US Dept of State estimates that between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year. In America alone 18,000 foreign nationals are trafficked into our borders each year.

But this is not a foreign problem that is washing up on our shores. Every state that has a major metropolitan area, an interstate, and/or a porous border will be affected by human trafficking. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has estimated that at least 100,000 kids are sexually trafficked each year in the United States. According to the FBI, “an estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.”  The Polaris project explains that the average age of entry into prostitution for girls is between 12-14 and for boys it is between 11-13. This means that approximately 75% of those in prostitution started as children. In light of this reality, it is no wonder that the National Institute of Justice states that 4,000 teens at any given moment are being sexually exploited in NY.

At this point, you are probably thinking, "what can I do?"

Here are 12 ways that you can start fighting human trafficking right now! 

1) Become Aware of the problem. First, you can take the US State Department’s Human Trafficking 101  training.  This training will give you a basic understanding of the problem. To learn more you can read books that address the issue.

To find out what is happening in your own backyard, you can: 1) go to slaverymap.org and 2) Set up a Google alert to receive current human trafficking news. These two steps will keep you up to date on everything that is happening in your community.

2) Be a conscientious consumer. In other words, we can fight exploitation through “good stewardship.”  Stewardship is not simply being thrifty. It is spending responsibly with a realization that your resources are God-given. We can fight human trafficking through the marketplace as we use our purchasing power for good. Check out the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced LaborEncourage companies to take steps to investigate and eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains and to publish the information for consumer awareness.   Your dollars effect how ethically these companies do business.

To know how we create a demand by our consumption habits, go to slaveryfootprint.org. This survey will show you how many slaves are working in order for you to live comfortably.

However this is not the only way to bring social change, you can also make it a point to buy ethically sourced products. Look for the fair trade and direct-trade certified labels as you buy coffee and chocolate. For more information, check out welogoff.com.

Another way is to purchase products that are made by human trafficking survivors. The Nomi Network provides economic opportunities for survivors and those at-risk of human trafficking in Cambodia and India. As you purchase their signature "Buy Her Bag Not Her Body" products, you are purchasing freedom.

3) Become aware of what creates the demand. The problem of global slavery originates with... us. Whether it is through our consumption of food, clothing, or pornography, our actions create a demand for exploitation. Are we depending on material goods and pornography for satisfaction rather than Christ?

It becomes a vicious cycle. In essence, our slavery to sin drives modern day slavery.  Therefore the first step to seeing people set free is to be set free from what binds you. Repentance of sin and relying on the substitutionary work of Christ on our behalf alone can set us free to fight injustice. If we desire to stand against exploitation, we must stand on the Gospel.

4) Prayer is absolutely essential to see God bring justice to our communities. Encourage your church and small groups to begin praying strategically for the weak and vulnerable overseas and across the street. Ask God to give you eyes to see and ears to hear the cries of the poor and oppressed. Pray over areas in your neighborhood that are known in the community for prostitution and other forms of exploitation. But if you pray, be prepared because the God of Justice will answer.

5) Start a bible study on justice. Spend a month studying justice from a biblical perspective. 

6) Make People Aware. There are several ways that you can bring awareness to those around you. 1) Host an awareness event to watch and discuss a recent film about human trafficking.  2) Post polaris project Human trafficking hotline posters in your community. 3) Order free awareness materials to post in visible areas in your community. 4) Bring a speaker to your church: check out raleighsadler.com for more details.

7) Donate funds or needed items to an anti-trafficking organization in your area. For example, you can help those that have been trafficked for sex in NYC find restoration by giving to Restore NYC

But did you know that you can also fight trafficking while you shop online at no cost to you?  Smile.amazon.com gives .5% of what you spend back to the charity of your choice. Take a few minutes and select Restore NYC. With each purchase Amazon will donate a certain amount to Restore to assist them in caring for survivors of sex trafficking.

8) Join the fight through fundraising. Raising funds is another way to fight exploitation. Feel free to be creative with your fund raising. The Nomi Network encourages people to use their birthdays as a way to bring freedom. Some other examples include: organizing a 5k run,  an art show, hosting a house party, an email campaign, and/ or a yard sale.

9) Learn to identify victims. According to the 2013 TIP report of the approximately 27 million victims worldwide, only 46,000 were identified last year. Since victims do not usually self-identify, it is our responsibility. Learn the signs and red flags of human trafficking. As you see these signs, you can report them to the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888 or text “Befree”.

10) Prevent future human trafficking by directly caring for those vulnerable to human trafficking. Volunteer with local homeless shelters, children’s homes, domestic violence organizations, and anti-human trafficking organizations in your community.

11) Use your voice to contact your local, state, and national political representatives. Sign or start a petition. Change.org has several live petitions currently addressing human trafficking. You can also directly email your government representatives.

12) Be creativeWhatever your gifting, You can use you skills and abilities to fight trafficking. For example if you are a teacher, a law enforcement officera medical health professional, or  a lawyer, you can speak up for those whose voice is not heard.

Setting the Captives Free: A Call to the Church

“Katie” met him at the mall. Though she was only 15, she knew that there was something different about this one. From the start, he showered her with kindness and attention. It wasn't long before she was falling for him. However, Katie was not prepared for what would happen next.

After dropping out of school and moving into his place, she noticed that the status of her relationship had changed. She was now being forced to prostitute herself.

Katie explains that her “boyfriend” kept her confined in his bedroom. She told WFTV news  that “all I did was sit in bed and wait for another client to come in.” Without knowing it, Katie had been lured into a life of sex trafficking. Though she earned as much as $2000 on some nights, she was never allowed to keep the money. She was kept penniless and dependent on her pimp.

Afraid to run, she became trapped in a cycle of exploitation. Instead of having a way out, she was forced to become more involved.  He would tell her, "If you get another girl, you don’t have to work as hard." So Katie would recruit other girls through Facebook and other social media channels. Like a twisted pyramid scheme, Katie's recruits would then recruit their friends at high school. The result was an ever-growing cycle of exploitation. This particular sex trafficking ring was not in Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia, but in suburban Central Florida (this happened in the quiet community where I grew up).

But though this account is horrifying, it is not an Isolated incident. There are stories like Katie’s being reported everywhere. Last year human trafficking was reported in all fifty states. Human trafficking is not a problem relegated to developing nations. According to the FBI, “an estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.” With so many youth at risk, we can begin to see why the average age of entry into prostitution is between 12-14 years old

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Let's be honest, this is scary. Sex trafficking can happen when any one person exploits the vulnerabilities of another for commercial gain. However, there is hope. The turning point in Katie's story came when a pastor opened his eyes to her suffering. The report explains that Katie’s situation changed when a local Brevard County pastor began to help. Though he was not in law enforcement, he recognized that he could care for those trapped in forced prostitution. His compassion is a stark reminder that the church has a vital role to play in seeing human trafficking eradicated.

In a conversation with Carol Smolenski, the Executive Director of Ending Child Prostitution And Trafficking USA (ECPAT), she told me that the local church can and must engage in the fight against domestic sex trafficking. Smolenski explained that every pastor and church leader needs to know about human trafficking "because they WILL be first responders. It doesn’t take a lot of training to realize that ‘something is wrong here,' because people will naturally have that instinct. With just a little training, you can mobilize an army of volunteers to know the signs and to know how to respond to them.”

Matt Jackson, a youth pastor in Brevard County, is aware of the red flags of commercial sexual exploitation. He explains that "when you hear stories like this, it makes you feel that much more responsible to bring this stuff to light. As a father of two girls, I think 'what if that were my kid in the mall being recruited.’ Jackson believes that he is not simply responsible for the spiritual well-being of his children and students but their physical well-being, as well. He has some advice for fellow pastors. "Know where your kids are hanging out. Know their friends. Talk to them about this stuff. Your kids can be a great asset to finding others who might be in trouble. Be aware of the signs within social media. Create an atmosphere where kids can talk freely about human trafficking and where they want to do something about it. They will be watching for signs that you will never see as an adult."

Ultimately, Jackson believes that the church should "do whatever it takes to get up to speed on what is going on in the world around you and call your congregation's attention to the problem. God has called the church to be His hands and feet and that especially means to those in slavery, the widows, the orphans, and to those who feel there is no hope.” 

However, no one will ever be the “hands and feet” of Jesus until they have become His eyes and ears. In other words, we will never even attempt to care for someone if we do not know that they exist. We can no longer claim ignorance. We must do something. With that said, here are a few easy steps to start you out:

First, become aware of the problemFirst, you can take the US State Department’s Human Trafficking 101  training. To learn more you can read books that address the issue. 

Second, learn to recognize the signs of human trafficking.  

Third, if you suspect that child trafficking is happening in your community, learn how to report it to the authorities.   

Finally once you become aware, you can start making others aware. Here are a few easy things that you can do: Start conversations in your small group meeting or sunday school class; show documentaries on human trafficking; talk about the subject on Sunday Morning; bring an abolitionist as a guest speaker; lead your church to financially partner with like-minded non-profits that are making a difference.

Though on this side of heaven injustice will be alive and well, we can rest in the fact that Justice will come completely when Christ returns. For now, we as pastors and leaders must join Christ on the "Already" side of the "Not yet" Kingdom. While we eagerly await Christ's second coming, we have the unique opportunity to see people set free physically and spiritually until that day. I pray that there would be more stories about pastors that care enough to notice people like Katie. 

Why Christmas Matters

When you think of NYC, Santa is probably last on your list, even if you check it twice. However, Santa Claus - as we know him- was born in Manhattan. Jeremy Seal, a New York Times contributing author, quotes a Cincinnati Newspaper from 1844 stating that "the sterling old Dutchman, Santa Claus, has just arrived from the renowned region of Manhattan, "with his usual budget of knickknacks for the Christmas times."  Manhattan is where the commercialized Santa Claus originated. The eyes of every child in America were on NYC each year as they eagerly awaited the gifts that Santa had packed onto his sleigh. However as we all know, Santa did not stay in NYC.

 

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The reason that Santa left Manhattan for a more spacious address up north is simple. In the late 19th century, the city was steadily becoming urbanized. With the massive influx of the "tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free" (as Emma Lazarus so eloquently stated in her poem, A New Colossus), Santa was forced to make a decision. Rather than trying to explain to their children that Santa Lived in a tenement house on the lower east side, parents began explaining that the Claus family lived in the North Pole.  

 

To this day, New York is a place where people from every nation find refuge. Currently, there are approximately 800 languages spoken in the greater metro area. As a Christian, I see New York City as a place where one person can actually fulfill the Great Commission. But with this rampant immigration and urbanization comes a sinister side. Not everyone who lives here is here by choice. The vulnerable populations, "the tired, the poor, and the huddle masses" are the very people that are being exploited for the commercial gain of others. The global nature of the urban context invites the scourge of human trafficking.

 

The Department of Justice reports that JFK airport is one of the top five airports where victims enter the country. One may find a potential victim in any one of the city's illegal Asian Massage Parlors, or residential brothels. The person that sells you fish in china town or the child that sells you fruit snacks on the subway could be being exploited as well. According to the National Institute of Justice, there are nearly 4,000 children being trafficked at any given time in New York City. 

 

There is not one community in the city that has not been touched by this evil in some way, however hope remains. During Christmas, we celebrate the advent of a miracle. The coming of the King whose purpose is to fix everything that is broken in the world. This helpless baby in the manger brought with him an invasion. As the hymn so eloquently states, "Hark the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King! Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled." Through Christ's vicarious life in the place of sinners, he achieved the righteous stand of which we have fallen short. His death in our placed paid the price that we owed for trampling on the holiness of God through our disobedience. His resurrection secures us as He lives as our representative before the Father. However, this is not the the only benefit for us.

When Christ came, He conquered sin and death through his own suffering. Christ then turned to those that were in the death camps. The scriptures states that each of us were "dead in our trespasses and sins,""blinded by the devil" in need of salvation. The sin that has broken our relationship with God, also destroyed our relationship with each other. Our own pain and suffering that we inflict on ourselves and each other testifies to our rebellion. Christ entered into our darkness and shone His light on our captivity. He broke our chains and set us free. Through faith, we can receive the gift of this great Abolitionist. He sets us free so that we could love Him and love others. This love overflows from our vertical relationship with God to our horizontal relationship with others. Because of His Grace, we can truly love our neighbor.

As this love overflows in action, we will see our communities changed. For example, in every neighborhood where there is suffering, there is a church. The local church exists to love God and to care for the weak and vulnerable in their midst. As scripture states repeatedly, God's  plan to end injustice on a global scale is the church and God doesn't have a plan B.

 

Yet, before  we care for the hurting, we must become aware of those suffering around us. We will never be the hands and feet of Christ, unless we are his eyes and ears. We will never attempt to love anyone if we don't know that they exist.

Imagine local churches, non profit organizations, and law enforcement all over the city partnering strategically to care for the weak and vulnerable. Picture community informational meetings such as panel discussions, and large events that create community awareness of exploitation. Watch believers become aware and have their eyes opened, and in turn seeing their neighbors differently. This contagious kind of lifestyle would not have been possible had it not been for a little child born in a stable over 2000 years ago.  

With that said, the message of Christmas is one of true change. For that very reason, the Gospel that we find showcased in the Christmas narrative is indispensable to the fight against global injustice.

Giving the Gift of Freedom

 Though his roots are in Southern Turkey and Northern Europe, Santa Claus - as we know him- was born in Manhattan. Jeremy Seal, a New York TImes contributing author, quotes a Cincinnati Newspaper from 1844 stating that "the sterling old Dutchman, Santa Claus, has just arrived from the renowned regions of the Manhattoes," or Manhattan, "with his usual budget of knickknacks for the Christmas times."  Manhattan is where the commercialized Santa Claus originated. The eyes of every child in the USA were on NYC each year as they eagerly awaited the gifts that Santa had packed onto his sleigh. However as we all know, Santa did not stay in NYC.

 For many, the larger than life figure of old St. Nick has eclipsed the small child born in Bethlehem. According to the American Research Group, shoppers plan to spend an average of $801 on presents this year. Whether we like it or not, Christmas has become a commercial holiday. The weak and the vulnerable are probably the last thought that we have as we try to find a parking spot at the local mall. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's easy to miss the reason that we celebrate Christmas in the first place. The truth is that Jesus was born to a virgin in ancient Israel. When he had grown up, he went to the Cross and suffered for the very people that drove him there. As Christ died, he experienced the justice of God for us. On the third day, he rose from the grave with a promise to return and bring the justice of God to us. The justice of God means that God loves and cares for the widow, the orphan, the sojourner, and the victim of human trafficking.

 In light of this truth, how are we to respond? As we celebrate the birth of Christ this year, we can use our Christmas list to fight human trafficking. With that said, let's take our eyes off the North Pole and look again at Manhattan. 

Two Manhattan based organizations, Restore NYC and the Nomi Network recognize this reality. Both fight modern day slavery through generating awareness and caring for survivors of human trafficking. Restore NYC is an aftercare program in the city for foreign born survivors of sex trafficking. According to Restorenyc.org, their mission is to "end sex trafficking in New York and restore the well-being and independence of foreign-national survivors." When a girl moves into a Restore safe house, her restoration begins. Through counseling and basic job skills, she is placed on the road to healing. However, Jimmy Lee, Restore NYC's Executive Director, explains that even more restoration is needed. "Restoration without being restored to the Father is incomplete," explains Jimmy Lee. For Lee, the Gospel is paramount to the work of abolition. 

This Christmas, you can further this work, each time that you purchase a gift on Amazon. Smile.amazon.com is a division of Amazon that gives .5% of the money that you spend on the site to a charity of your choice. When you register, simply select Restore NYC and you can use your purchasing power to bolster the work of these abolitionists in Manhattan. 

 Another organization headquartered in Manhattan is the Nomi Network (Nominetwork.org)Named after a survivor of sex trafficking, Nomi exists to restore survivors of sex trafficking in India and Cambodia. The Nomi Network manufactures their signature Buy Her Bag Not Her Body® and Made for a Better LifeTM products, which are sold in the U.S. to raise funds and awareness of trafficking. Proceeds from the sale of these bags provide wages, healthcare, and training for the "Nomi's" they serve in South and South East Asia.

In other words: with each T-shirt, ornament, bag or iPad case that you buy on their website, you are fighting human trafficking by empowering survivors.( To learn more please watch this short video. ) Through your purchases, you are giving a survivor the economic means to care for her family and stay out of "the life." 

 As we look toward Manhattan with a renewed vision this year, let's remember the reason that we celebrate Christmas. Christ became like us to experience the justice of God for us so that when he comes back he can bring the justice of God to us. As we celebrate his birth and await His return, I ask you to use your purchasing power to see an end come to global injustice this Christmas. This year give the gift that gives back!

 

 

 

Supporting the Fight Against Human Trafficking

The following post is from Guest blogger, John Patrick. John lives and works in Chicago, Il. He is a friend as well as a monthly ministry partner. I firmly believe that his words and experience will inspire you:

"Several years ago I was waiting for a train near my office in downtown Chicago. As I stood, waiting in the cold, a young lady approached me. Her name was Sarah. Her natural demeanor seemed timid and reserved, but she pushed through all of that to speak to me. “Hey, you alone tonight?,” she asked. I was surprised by her forwardness and stumbled for an answer. “Nah, I have a lot of work to keep me company,” I quipped. She didn’t give up and a predictable “offer of services” was made. I told her I wasn’t interested in sex, but that I would buy her dinner if she would tell me her story. She agreed. For the next hour, over a paper plate of gyros and fries, she told me about her journey to the U.S. Sarah told me about life in her home country – the abuse, the privation, her desperate desire to leave. She told me about the day she was offered a job as a nanny in the U.S. for a wealthy family. Then, she explained how she had been tricked and that no such job was waiting for her in the U.S. Having no passport, money, home, or relationships she could either be deported and return to her past life of misery or work in prostitution. She chose the latter. I listened to her story and told her there is hope to escape this life of slavery. Eventually, the conversation shifted to the greater liberation offered in Jesus Christ through his gospel. She was torn between the fear of her “manager” and the hope of liberation. Sadly, she gave into fear. She left the restaurant and faded back into the darkness of a city too busy to notice her plight.

I know there are thousands of other people who share Sarah’s story. They are enslaved to the temporal cruelty of injustice and they are enslaved to the enduring shackles of sin. Having listened to Sarah’s story and knowing there are so many others like her the appropriate question for my family was not, “Why should we support Raleigh’s ministry.” The question for us is, “How can we not support his ministry.” We prayed about how much to give Raleigh and decided that our current lifestyle would not allow us to give what we wanted. So, we changed our lifestyle to free up more money. I don’t share this detail to highlight our generosity (we could do more). I share this detail to draw attention to the excesses we often enjoy that could be sacrificed for the good of other people. God has richly blessed our partnership with Raleigh by allowing us to see the fruit of our giving. Every time I read a story of conversion to Christ, liberation from slavery, or increased awareness I’m reminded of Sarah. Raleigh’s ministry reminds me that we are not giving money to a voiceless endeavor. We are partnering with Raleigh to lift high the name of Christ and to demand justice for people like Sarah."

Please note that Raleigh is not paid by any entity. He raises support through ministry partnership with different individuals and organization. Your prayer and financial partnership is needed and encouraged as Raleigh serves amongst the oppressed in NYC. Also, every gift that you give is tax deductible. If you would like to join the fight against exploitation by joining Raleigh's ministry support team, you can go to his website, www.raleighsadler.com or email him at raleigh.sadler@gmail.com.

 

Human Trafficking Reading List

Human Trafficking or modern day slavery as it has been called, is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, according to the US Department of Justice. The International Labor Organization estimates that “of the 21 million in forced labour 70% are in forced labour exploitation and 22% are in forced sexual exploitation.” Simply put, human trafficking occurs when vulnerable populations are exploited for commercial gain. The annual income from this exploitation is approximately 32 billion dollars.

As we now see, slavery still exists both overseas and across the street. The US Department of State estimates that 18,000 foreign nationals are trafficked into the US each year.According to the FBI, “an estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.” So what can you do?

First you can become aware. Second, you can make others aware. Gary Haugen, the president of the International Justice Mission, explains that “awareness is doing the work.” Though not exhaustive, the following twelve books will engage, inform, and inspire you to be a voice for those whose voice is not heard.

  1. The Trafficking in Persons Report 2013
    “The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is the U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts and reflects the U.S. Government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue. It represents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it.
  2. A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery by E. Benjamin Skinner . Skinner examines and exposes the reality of slavery in the world today. This book will exists not merely to inform you to the horrors of human trafficking but to inspire you to action.
  3. The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade by Victor Malarek.  The Natashas has been described as “an angry, impassioned book, for which Malarek makes no apologies.” Malarek painstakingly describes the trafficking of young girls from the former Soviet Union into countries around the world. His research and strength as a journalist make this a must read for those that desire to know the inner workings of the sex trade.
  4. Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Day Slavery by Siddharth Kara. According to Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves, this is “the best book ever written on human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Representing a new period of solid yet humane scholarship, this breakthrough analysis represents a quantum leap in the study of this subject. Simply beyond anything I have seen anywhere.” Kara uses his background in finance and economics to provide an analysis on the business of sex trafficking. This is a worthwhile read.
  5. Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade–and How We Can Fight It by David Batstone. “Award-winning journalist David Batstone, whom Bono calls “a heroic character,” profiles the new generation of abolitionists who are leading the movement. This groundbreaking global report is now updated with the latest findings, new stories, and statistics that highlight what is being done to end this appalling epidemic—and how you can join the movement.” (from the back cover)
  6. The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter. “…But human trafficking doesn’t happen in the US, right?” Bales and Soodalter expose the slavery that is hidden in plain sight right here in the USA. This book is a must read for those that want to know about domestic human trafficking.
  7. Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World where Girls Are Not for Sale by Rachel Lloyd. From the back cover: “During her teens, Rachel Lloyd ended up a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. With time, through incredible resilience, and with the help of a local church community, she finally broke free of her pimp and her past and devoted herself to helping other young girls escape “the life.” In Girls Like Us, Lloyd reveals the dark world of commercial sex trafficking in cinematic detail and tells the story of her groundbreaking nonprofit organization: GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services. With great humanity, she shares the stories of the girls whose lives GEMS has helped—small victories that have healed her wounds and made her whole. Revelatory, authentic, and brave, Girls Like Us is an unforgettable memoir.”
  8. Good News about Injustice by Gary Haugen.  ”The good news about injustice is that God is against it. God is in the business of using the unlikely to accomplish justice and mercy. In this tenth-anniversary edition of Gary Haugen’s challenging and encouraging book he offers stories of courageous Christians who have stood up for justice in the face of human trafficking, forced prostitution, racial and religious persecution, and torture. This expanded edition brings up to date his work in calling for the body of Christ to act. Throughout, he provides concrete guidance on how ordinary Christians can rise up to seek justice throughout the world.”
  9. Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller. “It is commonly thought in secular society that the Bible is one of the greatest hindrances to doing justice. Isn’t it full of regressive views? Didn’t it condone slavery? Why look to the Bible for guidance on how to have a more just society? But Timothy Keller challenges these preconceived beliefs and presents the Bible as a fundamental source for promoting justice and compassion for those in need. In Generous Justice, he explores a life of justice empowered by an experience of grace: a generous, gracious justice.” Generous Justice foundational for any christian that is interested in learning more about how he or she change the world!
  10. Refuse To Do Nothing: Finding Your Power To Abolish Modern Day Slavery by Shayne Moore and Kimberly Yim. You don’t have to wear a cape to fight injustice. The authors, Yim and Moore, show us what normal ordinary people can do to fight modern day slavery. This is a must read for those interested in fighting human trafficking.
  11. The Just Church: Becoming a Risk-taking, Justice-Seeking, Disciple-making Congregation by Jim MartinExploitation happens in every community in the world. But God has also placed his church in every community in the world. The Just Church serves as a guide for church leaders and individuals. Martin’s book offers practical examples and advice for those that want to be relevant to those that are being exploited both overseas and across the street.
  12. Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves by Kevin Bales. ”None of us is truly free while others remain enslaved. The continuing existence of slavery is one of the greatest tragedies facing our global humanity. Today we finally have the means and increasingly the conviction to end this scourge and to bring millions of slaves to freedom. Read Kevin Bales’s practical and inspiring book, and you will discover how our world can be free at last.”—Desmond Tutu

What is the "Price of Life?"

During the next two weeks the city will be flooded with young abolitionists that desire to see the world changed. The Price of Life NYC desires to see freedom come to NYC! Check out the following press release to learn more!

‘PRICE OF LIFE’ NATIONAL ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING CAMPAIGN/ RALLY HITS NEW YORK CITY OCTOBER 1-12, 2013

 

 Provocative Events to Feature Porn Star Ron Jeremy, YouTube Sensation Jennifer Chung, Super Bowl XLI Winner Ben Utecht, Author and Founder of Not For Sale David Batstone, NYC Native Rapper Andy Mineo, Run River North, and Human Trafficking Survivors.

New York, NY — The Price of Life, a twelve-day public program promoting awareness and action on human trafficking, comes to New York City from October 1-12.

Through over 100 dynamic and diverse events at 15+ college campuses in the NYC metro area over 12 days, Price of Life aims to educate and activate students, business leaders, scholars, churches and professionals alike, on the issue of human trafficking and its impact on our local and global communities, events presented in partnership with roughly 100 faith-based and secular organizations working together.  Events range from concerts and films, to panels and debates, to thought-provoking human illustration and interaction stations. The campaign will also provide concrete opportunities for participants to fight human trafficking – modern day slavery.  The campaign aims to develop 600 student leaders, mobilize 10,000 advocates, and inform 50,000 people with the awareness of the reality that slavery happens now, and happens here. Targeting this demographic recognizes that college students of today are the leaders of tomorrow.

At any given moment, more than 20 million human beings are enslaved worldwide. Human trafficking exists when a person’s freedoms have been removed through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of labor and/or sexual exploitation.  The Price of Life believes that no one is truly free if even one is enslaved, and is forming a rising tide of modern-day abolitionists to stand against this scourge of our age.

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By educating 150,000 of tomorrow’s leaders about the problem of human trafficking, we are creating the largest human trafficking awareness campaign in the history of New York City.   We are making college students aware that modern day slavery is real and it’s happening in New York City and around the world,” explains Price of Life Director Dave Ruark.  “We are telling them that even small steps to fight trafficking are valuable – for example:

1.   Ask your coffee shop if the coffee you are drinking is fair and slave free.
2.   Ask about fair and slave free chocolate at your grocery store; let the manager know you would buy it if available.
3.   Put the Human Trafficking Hotline number in your phone right now: 888-373-7888; if you see anything suspicious, just call!  Every call is worth making, even if you’re not sure what you saw.

Featured events include a frank men’s only discussion on the culture of prostitution and pornography, featuring NFL Alum Ben Utecht; “Free Porn? Porn Stars vs. Pastors,” a debate on the real cost of pornography, featuring adult film industry star Ron Jeremy; a panel on human trafficking in our own backyard, featuring author and historian Ron Soodalter and operators of NY’s only safehouse for survivors, Restore NYC; compelling testimony by survivors; concerts featuring rapper and NY native Andy Mineo, Run River North, and Propaganda; Bill Blaxton, founder of Truckers Against Trafficking; and several events featuring professor, author, and founder of Not For Sale, David Batstone.  The full calendar of events can be found here.  Price of Life Android app and iPhone apps with the entire up-to-date schedule and event details are also available.

From now through September 30th, the Price of Life is holding creative competitions in categories such as visual art and film.  The focus of this competition is on creating works reflecting the truth of the horrific injustice of human trafficking, as well as the beauty of the hope of restoration.  The competition is calling for works of art in any medium that engage this issue and show how a rising generation of artists stands for justice through their art.  The 12-day calendar of events culminates on October 11th and 12th with a city-wide Freedom Festival at the historic City Center theater, featuring a concert, speakers, and a slave-free goods expo, as a celebration of unity in the fight.

“We’re engaging human trafficking on 3 levels awareness, activism, and asking deeper philosophical and spiritual questions,” explains Jeannie Rose Field, the campaign’s assistant director.  “Price of Life aims to develop students into lifelong world changers and justice-seekers.”  The campaign leaders have expertise in student development, helping today’s young people become leaders who will seek justice throughout their lives; this is not just a flash-in-the-pan approach, but rather a long-term vision.

In addition to the awareness events, students will “fund freedom” through the Price of Life Humanitas Fund, the philanthropy arm of the campaign, by raising money to support organizations aligned against trafficking on three basic levels:  Prevention (World Vision), Rehabilitation and Recovery (Restore), and Skills Building for Independence (Nomi Network).  Project Humanitas targets to raise $150,000 in support of these three abolitionist organizations.

ABOUT PRICE OF LIFE

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the parent organization of the Price of Life, is moved by the plight of those enslaved, believes there is justice and redemption through Jesus Christ, and feels it impossible not to act.  The Price of Life seeks to unite national and international non-governmental organizations together with campus and student leaders, business leaders, churches, scholars, and local non-profits to educate and mobilize the global community to fight human trafficking. InterVarsity is well-placed to gather experts and leverage its own depth of knowledge on this issue in an impactful and compelling way to create an army of modern-day abolitionists.

The Price of Life began in 2007 and has been hold on 6 colleges and universities in 4 states around the country; New York City is the next stop on this national campaign.

For a fact sheet on human trafficking, click here.
For media coverage and bios, click here.

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"The Only Thing Necessary"

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke’s words serve as a solemn reminder that we have a responsibility to be an advocate for those whose voice is not heard. As awareness of this injustice grows, we are realizing that the issue of human trafficking is more than a political, geographic or religious problem. Human trafficking affects everyone and is by definition a “human” problem. 

“Trafficking in Persons” take places when the vulnerabilities of one person are exploited by another for commercial gain. More specifically, this modern day slavery exists when people are coerced, forced, and/or manipulated to do commercial sex acts or labor services against their will. Whether they are forced to work as a truck stop prostitute, a “masseuse” at an asian massage parlor, a nanny for a wealthy family, a brick maker in India, or a worker on a fishing boat in Southeast Asia, they are victims of exploitation. This injustice is not limited to developing nations, however. Quite to the contrary, every nation is affected and impacted by this violation of human rights.

With only drug trafficking surpassing it, human trafficking has become the second largest and the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. Approximately 27 million slaves are at work in the world today. Even in the US, many of them are enslaved in plain sight. As a matter of fact, the United States is second only to Germany as a top destination country for human trafficking.  

Already known for ethnic diversity, NYC is also gaining a reputation as a destination for victims of human trafficking. According to recent reports, “Queens, New York is emerging as an epicenter of human trafficking in the United States.” 

Along Roosevelt Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Queens, one will find illegitimate massage parlors, men passing out cards with the number of a local residential brothel, as well as vans serving as mobile bordellos. For this very reason, local church leaders and civic leaders from all over Queens gathered in the Corona neighborhood on August 24th to discover what they could do to help turn the tide. With the desire to bring awareness to human trafficking, “Let My People Go” served to inspire and equip local churches to be the answer to the ever-growing exploitation in Queens. The panel made up of NYC’s top Christian abolitionists dealt with how to identify and respond to human trafficking in a Gospel-centered manner. 

Testifying to witnessing prostitution within blocks of his church, the pastor of Iglesia Bautista Canaan, Juan Carlos Suero, told those in attendance that exploitation is a dangerous reality in his neighborhood. He continued to explain that he felt that his church was to be part of the solution.

As Pastor Juan Carlos recognized, God desires to use the local church to bring justice to the vulnerable. Jimmy Lee, the executive director of Restore NYC, an aftercare facility for foreign born victims, reminded those in attendance that “in every neighborhood where a woman is trafficked in NYC, there is a church that can be eyes and ears.” Lee reminded those listening that as they see red flags, they “can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1888-373-7888.”

Whether you live in Queens, NYC or Tulsa, Oklahoma, you must remember that before you can care for victims, you must first realize that they exist. Growing in our awareness is the first step toward bringing freedom to our communities. 

With that said, you do not have to wear a cape or have a Phd to be an advocate for the weak and vulnerable. God desires to use each of us. Though exploitation takes place everywhere, God is also sovereignly placing His church in every community in the world. The local church is God’s answer to the hurting all around us.  

Now as you read this article, you maybe be saying to yourself, “What can I do? This problem is too big. Why should I even try?” Edmund Burke, a member of the British Parliament in the late 1700s, who stood for the cause of the American Colonies understood the need for freedom, even when it was not popular or easy. He explained that “nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” Regardless of your age or your occupation, you can do something. As you begin to be aware of the exploitation that takes place around you, you are in the perfect position to care for the weak and vulnerable. Remember that the only thing necessary for you to fight human trafficking is to be a disciple that shows your love for God by the way that you love others.

"Where is God?"

How can we reconcile the goodness and justice of God with suffering that we see happening on a global scale through human trafficking? Gary Haugen, president of the International Justice Mission, offers a unique perspective on this frequently asked question in his book, Terrify No More

Terrify-No-More-Haugen-Gary-A-9781595559807.jpg

For many of us, the ugliness of abuse and oppression in our world leads us, quite understandably, to ask: Where is God in the midst of such suffering? Even if we have drifted to a place in life where we rarely address God, there is something about the rank cruelty of exploitation and the naked brutality of human violence that seems to lift our objection almost involuntarily to something larger and beyond ourselves…

But over time, having seen the suffering of the innocent and the crushing of the weak all around the world, my plea has changed. More and more I find myself asking not, Where is God? but, Where are God’s people?

Given all the power and resources that God has placed in the hands of humankind, I have yet to see any injustice of humankind that could not also be stopped by humankind. I find myself sympathizing with a God who, speaking through the ancient prophet, told his people, “You have wearied the LORD with your words . . . by saying, . . . ‘Where is the God of justice?’ ” (Malachi 2:17 NIV). Increasingly, I feel quite sure of the whereabouts of God. My tradition tells of a Father in heaven who refused to love an unjust world from a safe distance, but took his dwelling among us to endure the humility of false arrests, vicious torture, and execution.

This is the God who could be found as “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3 NIV). The more I have come to know him, the harder it has become for me to ask such a God to explain where he has been. In fact, surprisingly, I don’t generally hear the victims of abuse doubting the presence of God either. Much more often I hear them asking me, “Where have you been?”

 

Freedom Walks Through Queens

What many know as the home of the Lemon Ice King and incredible ethnic food has become the home of something far more sinister. According to recent reports, “Queens, New York is emerging as an epicenter of human trafficking in the United States.” For instance, as you stroll though the neighborhood of Corona, you will walk by men passing out “chicka chicka” cards. Though this card seems harmless as you look at the bouquet of flowers on it, you realize that the number on the card connects you to a residential brothel in the neighborhood. Continuing to walk through the neighborhood, you see a white refrigerated van that drives by and stops on a side street. Upon closer inspection, you notice that there is a bed in the back of the van with a girl laying on it. If you continue to walk along Roosevelt Avenue you will find people walking the street and many massage parlors promising “happy endings” and “sensual massages.” This happens everyday in Queens. In Queens, like everywhere else, exploitation is hidden in plain sight. Though many of us avert our eyes, it doesn’t automatically disappear.

This is why we chose to have “Let My People Go” take place in Corona on August 24th.  “Let My People Go” is a movement in NYC to inspire and equip people, especially church and community leaders, to stand against the exploitation that is happening in their neighborhoods. With pastors, leaders, and interested community members in attendance, the panelists dealt with everything from the nature of human trafficking to the practical steps that the church and community can take to abolish it. The event began as Pastor Juan Carlos Suero testified to witnessing prostitution within blocks of his church. Raleigh Sadler pointed to the fact, that like Pastor Suero, all Christians must recognize what is taking place in our neighborhoods. He explained that “human trafficking is happening in every community in the world, but the Church is also in every community in the world. However, we will never care for the oppressed, if we don’t know that they exist.”

 Jonathan Walton explained that before we began doing social justice, we must first rely on the gospel. One “will never be able to testify to a freedom that they have never experienced,” he said. His point was that the Gospel of Jesus Christ not only models freedom but inspires the believer to see others set free both physically and spiritually. As Christians rest in the gospel and become better “stewards of their time, talent, and treasure,” they can fight human trafficking. For example, if people would not consume clothing and food that is produced by the hands of forced laborers, the demand would diminish. Walton’s point was simply that if the demand is weakened, the need for supply will cease. This is a tangible way that every believer can fight human trafficking.

However, a question lingered on the minds of those listening: “What happens to the victims of human trafficking?” Alyssa Moore pointed to the work that the Nomi Network is doing with caring for survivors of sex trafficking in Cambodia and India. As these girls are given jobs making clothing which promotes human trafficking awareness, they are given marketable skills that provide the framework for their personal restoration. Jimmy Lee pointed to the gospel when he spoke about the restoration of the victims of sex trafficking that come through the doors of Restore NYC. Lee reminded those in attendance that “restoration without restoration to our Father is incomplete.”

For that very reason, we inspire Christians to recognize that God has called his church to be part of the solution. God has called you to “Let My People Go.”

If you have never been able to be part of a “Let My People Go” event, click here to register for the event in Washington Heights next week!

 

The Foundation of the Christian Abolitionist

In the "Parable of the Good Samaritan," Jesus calls an expert in the Torah to the metaphorical carpet. Though the man attempted to catch Jesus off guard, Jesus showed him that he wasn't as much of an 'expert' as he may have originally thought. Jesus frames his response to the lawyer in the form of a parable. His point is simply that if you are loving God with all of your being, you will love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus uses the "Good Samaritan" as a picture of what it looks like to love your neighbor. Last week, I examined the disconnect between having "good theology" and doing acts of justice. At this point, I want to address the disconnect by answering the question: "does the Bible REALLY call Christians to care for the weak and vulnerable?" Please take time to read, study, and/or memorize the following 20 scripture passagesphoto-3 copy

Deuteronomy 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Psalm 140:12 I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.

Psalm 146: 5-9 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.

Isaiah 56:1 Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my righteousness be revealed."

Jeremiah 21:12 O house of David! Thus says the Lord: “‘Execute justice in the morning, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed, lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of your evil deeds.’”

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Zechariah 7: 8-10 And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah: “This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’

Takeaway: God cares about justice. His heart breaks for the oppressed. God calls and enables us to be changed by His grace. But He also calls us to live in light of His justice. As we follow him, we will love and embrace what God values.

Psalm 10:17 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear 18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Isaiah 58:6 “Is not this the fast that I choose:to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house;when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.11 And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water,whose waters do not fail.

Takeaway: Prayer and fasting focused on trusting God to bring justice will bring both personal and corporate revival.
Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

Isaiah 1:16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil (repentance),17learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause (Justice).18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool (Gospel).

Luke 11: 42 But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others.
James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Takeaway: Resist the temptation to have a mere theological knowledge and a sense of religious duty. Christians are called to care for the oppressed. The Gospel that frees us from sin motivates us to see others taste freedom. As we live in light of the Gospel, we are motivated to do justice.

Acts 2:43-45 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
1 John 3:17-18 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Matthew 25: 31-46 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’..." (The phrase "least of these" refers to the those in the believing community.)
Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Luke 10:25-37 The Parable of the Good Samaritan: 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Takeaway: Christians are called to do 'justice' amongst those that are suffering and vulnerable within christian community as well as those outside of it.
Final takeaway: As you reflect on these 20 verses, rest in the fact that though the world is broken, God will bring justice and He desires to use you. Remember when we stand on the Gospel, we will stand against injustice.

The Crux of Abolition Part 2

What do you need to be motivated to live a life of justice? Last week, we discovered that the character of God was a major example for the Christian to follow. However, a mere knowledge of God's character is not enough to transform us completely. For example, there are many of us that have grown up in theological traditions that emphasize theology and knowing God, yet they put little to no emphasis on caring for the "least of these." Somewhere between our belief in God and our practice, there is a disconnect. This problem occurs for a variety of reasons which vary from biblical ignorance to the fear of the "Social Gospel." For many of us, our "duties" as Christians go no farther than our church attendance and our evangelistic efforts. This is the status quo for many within the Christian community. Tim Keller, the author of Generous Justice reminds us that this is not enough. “If a person has grasped the meaning of God's grace in his heart, he will do justice. If he doesn't live justly, then he may say with his lips that he is grateful for God's grace, but in his heart he is far from him. If he doesn't care about the poor, it reveals that at best he doesn't understand the grace he has experienced, and at worst he has not really encountered the saving mercy of God. Grace should make you just.” In essence, if we are not actively caring for the needy in our communities, we have a problem.

At the showing of "Sex and Money" talking to pastors and leaders encouraging them to stand on the Gospel in order to stand against injustice

In January 2012 while at the Passion Conference in Atlanta, Ga, I was convicted by the fact that though I cared a lot about having my "theology right," I didn't care very much about those that are being currently being exploited around the world. For me, human trafficking was a "third world" problem and it did not affect me. God showed me, however, that it was relevant because though it may have not pierced my heart, God's heart was broken over the suffering of these people. I realized at that point that I needed to change. But I had absolutely NO idea of what a life of justice would look like.

As I stated in an earlier entry, "when we stand on the Gospel, we will stand against injustice." That means simply that the first step in biblical discipleship should not be to rush to do anything, but to rest in what has been done on your behalf. The Bible explains that we are absolutely powerless to save ourselves because in our natural state, we are spiritually dead. We have absolutely nothing to offer God to save us. Honestly, God would be entirely just to leave us in our sin and disobedience to naturally suffer the consequences that we deserve. But he does the complete opposite. He came and lived a perfect life in our place. He lived vicariously for you and me, obeying God the Father in everything. Unlike us, he never disobeyed God. Yet, he suffered as the most evil criminal in the history of mankind. Christ took our sins as his own and suffered God's wrath on sin in our place. In other words, it was as if He experienced Hell on the cross for us. Romans 5:8 explains that "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Understanding the Gospel not only saves, restores, and changes us, it also motivates us to action. As we ponder his grace, we will naturally begin to love and care for others. Christians must realize that we were once enslaved to our sin, but Christ set us free. Basking in this undeserved freedom is what drives us to action. In other words, recognizing that we have been freed from our spiritual shackles gives us the desire to see others freed from physical slavery. My friend Jonathan Walton, the director of Intervarsity's NYC Urban Project echoes this truth when he explains "to free people from physical and spiritual chains, we must be set free from our own physical and spiritual slavery. We cannot testify to a freedom that we don't know for ourselves."

Why would William Wilberforce risk his own livelihood to see that the English slave trade come to an end? Why would young professionals leave a promising career to work for struggling non profit organizations that are caring for victims of trafficking? They experienced the grace of God found in the Gospel and were changed forever. Realizing that the Gospel had set them free for eternity, their only response could be to seek that same freedom for others. Ultimately for Christians, the crux (latin for "cross") of abolition must be the Gospel.

The Crux of Abolition Part 1

"Raleigh, what made you move to NYC? Why would you choose to work with Human trafficking abolition?" Believe it or not, I get this question all the time. If you are anything like me, you probably spend a good bit of time wondering what makes people tick, as well. You think to yourself, "why do they do what they do or why did they choose that particular career path over another possibly more logical choice?" Why would an 18th century English parliamentarian risk his political equity by seeking an end to the "socially accepted" slave trade in England? Why would a person leave a promising law career in NYC to work with a struggling non profit organization? What do you need to be properly motivated to live a life of justice?

To inspire NYC pastors to encourage their churches to fight human trafficking, we hosted a showing of the film "Sex and Money."

For the Christian, two motivations will stand head and shoulders above the rest; namely, the character of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From cover to cover, you can easily see the theme  of God working through his people to bring justice to the world especially to the orphan, the widow, the refugee, and the poor.  This group of four is mentioned repeatedly in scripture. God's love for the weak and vulnerable stems from his character. Of the many passages that speak of the justice of God, one text in particular speaks of God's heart for this population. In Deuteronomy 10:16-19, the reader discovers that because God is "the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe (all attributes of his character)... He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing." In verse 19, God pleas with his people to do the same. This passage is written in such a way that as the believer reflects on the character of God, he or she will be driven to respond in a similar fashion. Greg Beale explains this concept in his book, We Become What We Worship. His basic point is that “what people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or for restoration.” Ergo if we worship the God of justice, then we should naturally care for the things for which He cares, like the widow, the orphan, the refugee, and the poor. Jimmy Lee, the Executive Director of Restore NYC, reminded a group of pastors at an event called "Let My People Go, "that the scariest thing about human trafficking is that it's preying on the most vulnerable populations." These are those without a voice or an advocate. Through the light of scripture, we discover that though we may not actively care for the broken of society, God does. This love, grace, mercy, justice and overall goodness of God should be a motivation that drives all of his followers. Can this be said for you?

"The Only Thing Necessary..."

...for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke's words serve as a solemn reminder that we have a responsibility to be an advocate for those without a voice. The issue of human trafficking is more than a political, regional or religious problem. Human trafficking is a "human" problem. We are all affected and impacted by this violation of human rights, whether we know it or not. Currently, approximately 27 million slaves are at work in the world today. "Trafficking in persons" is a $99 billion dollar industry as well as the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.

According to Polarisproject.org, over 100,000 children are estimated to be introduced into the sex trade in the United States each year. In light of the previous statement, it is no wonder that the average age of entry into prostitution is between 12-14 years old. Whether they are born in the US or elsewhere, they are being bought sold on a daily basis. This happens in your cities and your neighborhoods.

Human trafficking which equates to modern day slavery exists when people are coerced, forced, and/or manipulated to do commercial sex acts or labor services against their will. Whether they serve as a prostitute at a truck stop, a "masseuse" as an asian massage parlor, a maid for a wealthy family, a brick maker in India, or are forced to work on fishing boats in Southeast Asia, they are victims of exploitation.

In the face of such a global evil, what can we do?

Raleigh Sadler moderating the panel of abolitionists

On April 27th, 2013, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion for pastors and church leaders which was aptly named "Let My People Go." The name of the event comes from the demand of Moses, God's spokesman, to Pharaoh who refused to release Israel from slavery. In a similar way, these pastors were challenged to stand and demand that those trapped in slavery today be set free. The goal was to equip these pastors and church leaders with the knowledge to equip their churches to fight human trafficking. The event featured three expert panelists, who are some of the top abolitionists in NYC; Jimmy Lee of Restore NYC, Diana Mao of Nomi Network, and Jonathan Walton of New York City Urban Project.

During this discussion, we wrestled with the nature of human trafficking and where is it found globally and locally. We also delved into where is slavery found in NYC, and how are we a part of the problem. Finally, we explored ways that the local church can be a positive force in the fight against the global slave trade.

In the next several articles, we will walk through several ways that Christians can practically fight human trafficking. We will learn that we don't have to wear a cape or have a Phd to be an advocate for the weak and vulnerable. As Christians we simply have to be disciples. Ultimately, true biblical discipleship fights trafficking. I will tease this out more in the articles to follow, but to put it succinctly, when we stand on the Gospel, we will naturally stand against injustice.

You may find this hard to believe. You may be struggling to read this article because your eyes keep rolling back in your head. You are saying to yourself, "What can I do? This problem is too big. Why should I even try?" Edmund Burke, who stood for the cause of the American colonies as a member of the British Parliament in the late 1700s, understood the need for freedom, even when it was not popular. He explained that "nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." Regardless of your age or your occupation, you can do something. Remember that the only thing necessary for us to fight human trafficking is our willingness to do something... no matter how small it may seem.

My Weak of Reflection

As I walked through the streets of Manhattan that were teeming with drunken green "20 somethings," a thought occurred to me; It was St. Patrick's day! For me, It was an anniversary of sorts. The St. Patrick's Day Parade. The people watching was more interesting than that actual parade.

Over two years ago, I told God that I would NEVER raise support to be a missionary and that I would NEVER visit NYC. However, God had different plans. For starters, He gave me a great opportunity to take students to Brooklyn for a mission trip. We arrived in Brooklyn on St. Patrick's Day 2012. Almost immediately, I began to realize that I was falling in love with NYC, even though I didn't want to. During that week, my friend, Jessica Minhas, who works as an actress and abolitionist in the city, looked at me and said bluntly, "you are great with your students. They love you. But here's the problem, you don't need to be in WV, you need to be in NYC." I promptly blew her off.

Months passed and I found myself actually considering moving to Manhattan. In July 2012, I met with pastors and students all over NYC to see what options there were for me.  But now, I was overwhelmed. The city was too much to handle. The more needs that I saw in the city, the more weak I felt. The more languages I heard, the smaller I became. There was no way that I could ever move here. With only a handful of college ministers to shepherd the 594,000 college students on over 110 colleges and universities, this task was bigger than I could ever imagine. I was humbled by what was before me. If God was going to use me in a city of 8.2 million people, He was going to have to do all the work, because the task was simply too big.

Fast forward to my "city-versary" on Saturday March 17th 2013. A year from the first day that I set foot here, I coughed. The next day, I began to feel weak and started having the chills. By monday morning, I could do nothing but sleep. My health had deteriorated to the point where I was physically unable to do anything. For a solid week, I wasn't able to eat anything. All I could do was to lay down. Again, I was reminded of my own dependance. I was reminded of my own limitations. After being told by several people to seek medical attention, I went to the emergency room. As I was walked to the hospital with a co-worker, I felt so weak that I thought that I would pass out at any moment. What caused my sickness? Something Bubonic? Something that the CDC warns us about? Nope. I had a "cold."

This "cold" leveled me. I have never been more tired in my life. The more that I pondered my situation, the more that I began to wrestle with the reality of spiritual warfare. Again, I was reminded of my dependance on God. The Apostle Paul wrote of a time of weakness, when he was attacked by a "messenger of Satan." But he came to the realization that his problem ultimately worked for his benefit because it forced him to depend on God. In chapter 12 of his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote:

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

A year prior, I was humbled by the task to do ministry in the city. A year later, I was humbled by sickness. But with both situations, I was reminded that the only way that I can do what I have been called to do is by depending on God's strength and not my own. God will supply my needs and yours as well. Are you depending on him? Will you acknowledge your weakness, so that you can cling to his strength?

How I Found Nemo

On February 8th, 2013,  Nemo happened. For the good part of that week, I heard warnings from everyone from the weather channel to my own mother begging me to stay safe. Evidently in a city still rebounding from our last weather related disaster, a blizzard sounded quite ominous. As I thought about it that evening, I realized that I had no idea what to expect. I had already severely underestimated Sandy, so now I found myself in my office on a Friday night: waiting on the inevitable. Regardless, this blizzard was an interruption to the general flow of my life in NYC. Seriously, a blizzard! What?! We saw what happened when it rained, now what will happen when it snows incessantly? Nemo begins... to slam 72nd and Broadway

The issue is simple. In NYC, it's easy to get into a rut. Honestly, I believe that in a city as unpredictable as NYC, we tend to enjoy our routines. We end up taking the same train from the same stop to transfer to the same bus everyday; That's just life in NYC. But when an unanticipated storm arrives, our lives are disrupted.

On that particular Friday night the city, known for the "new york minute," realized that it was going to have to go a little slower than usual. That evening there were less people outside than normal and not surprisingly there were significantly fewer cabs driving on Broadway.  For many of us, the negative aspects of a weather related interruption distract us from paying attention to any potential benefits. For example, it's difficult to focus on beauty when we are bombarded with brokenness. We struggle to find our delight, when despair is ever-present. How would I find Nemo as it arrived? Would Nemo be a problem or a blessing? Would I complain or would I be thankful?

To be honest, there are moments when I am confronted with the enormity of my task in NYC. I start thinking about the sheer need for the Gospel amongst the more than 594,000 college students and the severe lack of college ministers here to meet the challenge. I wrestle with the fact that so few people in NYC realize that our city is in the top three for most reported Human Trafficking cases in America. I struggle with the ever present need to raise support so that I can live in what is simultaneously one of the most lost and one of the most expensive cities in our country. More often than I'd like to admit, these concerns discourage me.

Sometimes, life beats us down. But no matter what providence sets before us, we all make a choice. Will we receive our daily routine altering disruptions as an inconvenience or a blessing?

When I woke up Saturday, I saw what Nemo brought to NYC. It was beautiful. I spent the large part of the afternoon walking ( albeit carefully) through Central Park. Though tourists were falling down all around me, I paid attention to the beauty that was before me. There were moments where I couldn't express how captivated I had become. What many thought would be an annoyance turned out to be a tapestry for God's Glory.

Central Park following Nemo

Saturday, I began to see the beauty in the midst of a broken city. Now when the sun rose on Sunday morning, I was all set to dive back into my normal routine. I hopped on my usual train and made my usual transfer and got off at the same exit on the same street that I get off at every Sunday. However, God sent another interruption. This interruption had a name as well; Kyle. Kyle's first words to me got my attention immediately. "Are you afraid of black people?" he asked. Now having served as a Campus minister at a Historically Black College and University, I quickly retorted, "no!" He then began to tell me that he was homeless and he had just woken up on the R train. He asked for money and when I said "no," he asked me if I would buy him breakfast. I was at a cross roads. On one hand, I needed to get to church. But on the other hand, there was someone that was in need right in front of me. So he and I walked over to Broadway pizzeria and I bought him and myself breakfast. You see, I had learned from Nemo that what appears to be an interruption is only an interruption from our perspective. If we see things from a divine perspective, we would realize that with God there are no accidents and his plan is never frustrated. Even the psalmist in Psalm 147:15-18 tells us that God is sovereign over everything even over blizzards. This "inconvenience" is ultimately coming from the hand of our God:

He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.16 He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes.17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold?18 He sends out his word, and melts them;    he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.

As we can see from the Bible, The providence of God does not allow for an unintentional interruption. Just like Nemo came to NYC on purpose, my encounter with Kyle was right on schedule. Interestingly enough, earlier in the week I began to pray that God would interrupt my life with opportunities to share the Gospel. God answered that prayer. Though Kyle rejected the Gospel, I do believe that God desires to save him. Are we asking God for divine interruptions?

So the question that faced me faces all of us, how will we respond to what life brings us? How will we find Nemo?

What To Do with the Prodigal?

You have probably heard of the  Prodigal son. This is arguably the most popular redemption story in the history of Western culture.  The parable of the "Prodigal Son" (also known in some circles as the "Parable of the Two Brothers") exists to deconstruct and to reconstruct our Christian worldview. Truth be told, the way that we view God will dictate how we handle the rest of our lives. If we see the Father as an unloving disciplinarian that always wants us to do better before He will accept us, then we will be more prone to anxiety and less prone to worshiping God freely. On the other hand if we choose to view God as a giant teddy bear who embraces the "I'm okay, you're okay" attitude without the slightest regard towards our personal holiness, then we will sin freely without fear of divine discipline. Whether we would like to admit or not, our view of God affects the ways that we manage our relationships with others.

As Jesus spoke to religious leaders and sinners, Jesus' point was that both groups see God the Father accurately. He is a God of grace that loves us and desires to be reconciled to us.

As Jesus continues to tell this beautiful story, you can almost see the sinners and outcasts smile as they hear how the father (representing God the Father) runs to accept his son that has sinned so extravagantly. Their minds were racing. "If the father would accept his own prodigal son, who recognized his sin and returned home, then maybe... just maybe God the Father would accept me." You can also hear the Pharisees complain and murmur when they realize that Jesus is saying that they are just like the elder brother, who thought that God should honor him because he was religious.

However, the beauty of this parable is that the Father pursued both brothers: the rebellious and the religious. The father freely ran to the prodigal that tried to save himself by exploring pleasure in a far off land and the brother that tried to save himself through keeping a moral code. 

God desires to save us regardless of what side of the spectrum we find ourselves. God can save us because ultimately Jesus was the perfect son. He hung out with the religious, but didn't sin and he dined with sinners and wasn't corrupted. He lived his life perfectly and unlike the other two brothers, Jesus loved the Father completely. However, this perfect son died on a cross to take the burden of the rebellious and the religious. He died to take our punishment in order to declare us righteous before the Father. The Father, who exists in holiness, accepts us, because Jesus was punished in our place (For more on this, listen to this podcast from a recent sermon that I preached).

Now, what should we do with this parable? What should we do with this new found understanding of God's love? First, when we finally understand that God the Father loves us unconditionally, we will desire to seek and save the lost. Had the elder brother understood that love, he wouldn't have stayed home trying to earn "behavior points" with his dad, he would have combed the desert looking for his brother, so that he could bring him back to his father. Understanding the Grace of God will motivate us to see that other people experience that same Grace as well.

Jesus didn't just seek out those that looked like him or had common interests. Luke 19:10 says that the "the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." He met with priests and prostitutes, criminals and church goers, the prodigal and the elder brother. Jesus desires that victims of trafficking as well as pimps be made right with himself. We can find out how we view the Father by who we are seeking. Are we seeking to introduce those that are lost to the Father's love?

 

Enslaved in Plain Sight: Opening Our Eyes to Modern Day Slavery

"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy."    -Abraham Lincoln

On the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation designating January 2013 to be "National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month." In the proclamation, President Obama explains that:

"This month, we rededicate ourselves to stopping one of the greatest human rights abuses of our time. Around the world, millions of men, women, and children are bought, sold, beaten, and abused, locked in compelled service and hidden in darkness. They toil in factories and fields; in brothels and sweatshops; at sea, abroad, and at home. They are the victims of human trafficking -- a crime that amounts to modern-day slavery."

In essence, the same passion that led our 16th President to fight for justice should drive us to see world-wide slavery ended. Modern day slavery, or Human Trafficking as it known, is not a minor issue. It is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world. It is estimated that currently there are 27 million slaves, who are being forced, coerced, manipulated, and/or threatened unless they perform certain acts. Despite the opinion of many, they DO NOT choose to be sex or labor slaves.

You may think, "Well, that's simply a political issue and it isn't an issue in the United States." Cases of Human Trafficking have been reported in all 50 states. For example in NYC, you will walk by many asian massage parlors. Many of these employ trafficked girls, who came to the US in search of a better life. But this isn't just an issue facing those who come from overseas, domestic trafficking is alive and well. Joe Mazilli, a private investigator specializing in trafficking cases, told me recently that in NYC a runaway is approached by a trafficker within 48 hours of being on the street. This is a danger that affects all of us. As Christians, we must stand against this epidemic.

Last January, God opened my eyes to modern day slavery and I have never been the same. A year later, I am serving in NYC with college students to help open their eyes to different ways that they can stand against trafficking.

On January 1st, 2013,  I took students from the Gallery Church to the Passion Conference at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. It was here that over 60,000 students heard the Gospel and heard about the horrors of Modern Day slavery. With speakers like John Piper, Francis Chan, Louie Giglio, and Gary Haugen, the students heard Gospel-centered messages that called them to action. The first step that these students took was to collectively raise 3.5 million dollars to be used in the fight against slavery.

At passion, there were "End it" stations, where students could give financially. Here we are at a station.

Louie Giglio, the founder of the Passion Movement explains that "the voices of this generation, what are called 'poor college students,' [gave] 3.2 or 3.3 or 3.5 million dollars in four days. That's a big message, and their voice has reached the White House, it's reached a lot of streams of culture, and we pray the White House is listening, engaging, and doing what they can," Giglio added.

Here we are on the last day of Passion

"It's not any one person or organization that's going to solve this. It's every one of us, doing what we can, at the level of influence we have, to not only shine a light on slavery, but to end it."

So how do we stand against slavery? Here are a few basic things that you can do to stand against slavery in a practical way.

First, as we ponder how the Gospel frees us and saves us, we should be empowered to see slavery abolished. If you stand on the Gospel, you should naturally stand against injustice. If you have time, listen to a message that I preached on the this recently.

Second, educate yourself on the signs of Human trafficking. Become prepared to report tips on potential human trafficking activity to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888.

Third, become aware of what is happening in your own state. Using Slaverymap.org, you are able to track cases of domestic trafficking in 'your own neck of the woods.'

Fourth, take the survey on slaveryfootprint.org in order to answer the question, "how many slaves work for you?" This is a sobering survey, which shows us that in many ways the goods that we consume have been touched by forced labor. Using the marketplace, we can stand against illegal trade practices. For other ways to fight trafficking, click here!

Fifth, take a stand and take the pledge to "End It!"

In closing, any 'Evangelical Christian" would agree that faith in the vicarious life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus is what sets us free from our slavery to sin and to Satan. As we think on the Gospel, we should be stirred to action. Our Gospel freedom is what sets us free to fight for the physical and spiritual freedom of others. May the Gospel propel us to see people liberated from their slavery.

Powered by Squarespace.  The picture in the background was taken in Lower Manhattan.