The Gospel, Justice, and the Underdog

My name is Matt, and I’m a writer.
From devotionals like this, to fiction stories, to documenting embarrassing moments involving my family and roommates (I mean…I would never do stuff like that,) to cranking out mesmerizing academic papers at two in the morning, there’s a fair amount of writing that I’ve tried my hand at. There’s also a fair amount of reading that I’ve done. And something I’ve found in all of this is that we like happy endings. We like for the good guys to win. We wanted the hobbits to defeat Darth Vader on the Starship Enterprise. We wanted Harry Potter to defeat Voldemort. We wanted Rose to scoot over so that Jack could get on the lifeboat with her. We wanted Indiana Jones to succeed at finding the lost Ark, or become King of the Crystal Skull, or whatever he’s meant to do. We want the good guy to win in real life, too. We want to see those who stand up for righteous causes come out victorious. We want the good guys and the underdogs to win, and we want to see the bad guys punished and finished. So, it’s reasonable to assume that you and I would want the 27 million people enslaved around the world to be freed, right?
You read that right — 27 million. Numbers are great for illustrating the vastness of an issue, but the truth is that this number represents people — men, women, and children — who don’t know freedom because they are enslaved as a sex worker, manual laborer, or child soldier. And these people could easily be you and I, or even our kids. According to the A21 Campaign, the average age of a modern-day slave is 12 years old. And though we’d like to think human trafficking only happens in the developing world, cases of it have been reported even here in Lubbock.
From a theological perspective, this needs to be an issue to us as Christians for a few different reasons. One of those reasons is that slavery stands in direct opposition to the Gospel of Christ. It goes against Jesus’ message to the world, and the actions He took to save it.
The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Jesus’ death was for me as much as it was for my black neighbor, or a refugee from a foreign country, or for the woman waiting in a hotel room for her next client. Slavery says that the life of a slave is of less significance than that of their master. The Gospel says that all people have inherent worth because of Christ, and all are of equal worth because they bear the image of God.
Secondly, slavery is a deprivation of the freedom that I think God wants us to experience. In the book of Luke, Jesus quotes the words of the prophet Isaiah, saying that part of Christ’s mission was to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners” (Is. 61:18,) and that prophecy was fulfilled in Him (Luke 4:21). God wants us to be free from the bondage of sin in order to enjoy the abundant, eternal life that He offers. So is it too far of a stretch to say that God wants literal, physical freedom for us?
I think there’s a call to action here, and I think that as followers of Christ, we can’t be indifferent toward injustice. There’s too big of a need for “justice to roll on like a river” (Amos 5:24) for us to be complacent.
We already have a ministry in place at our church called Women on Fire, who create and sell homemade goods in order to raise money for refugees, human trafficking victims, and victims of other forms on injustice. In the near future, we’re hoping to launch a ministry that will directly respond to the issue of modern-day slavery. (If this is something you’d like to be a part of, text “@htlrumc” to 81010 for text message updates.)
Slavery stands in opposition to Jesus Christ, but redemption does not. Opportunities are out there to fight against human trafficking and make a way for redemption: opportunities to pray, give financially, or take action in some other way. Just as Jesus was able to work with a few fishes and loaves to feed several thousand people, whatever we give and do can be multiplied, and can provide victims of trafficking with a happy ending.
Though actions are being taken and justice is rolling on, the truth is that in the case of human trafficking, few victims end up victorious. Their stories do not end happily; rather, they end with a person hidden in the shadows, being forced into manual labor and prostitution. According to the A21 Campaign, only one percent of human trafficking victims are rescued. However, we have an opportunity here and now to change that. We can partner with God to write a new story for those caught in slavery. Are you in?

If you’re unfamiliar with this particular industry and would like more information, I’ve provided some resources below.

The A21 Campaign [www.a21.org] is an organization dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of trafficking victims around the world. Their website contains a multitude of information, including how to recognize signs of trafficking.

The International Justice Mission [www.ijm.org] is an organization that Women on Fire have chosen to support. In addition to human trafficking, they also fight against sexual violence, and abuse by governing bodies in the developing world.

The End It Movement [www.enditmovement.com] is a division of Passion Conferences that has successfully raised awareness of human trafficking and funded anti-trafficking projects here in the US.

This [https://youtu.be/rPpT6cS1SvU] is a video that aired at the 2012 Passion Conference, and was something opened my eyes to the worldwide trafficking industry.