Job 24:1, 9-12, 19-25
Slavery is alive and well through the international crime of human trafficking. Children are kidnapped and youth are deceived, forced into lives of child labor or prostitution. Internationally, 29 million persons are victims, with between 57,000 to 63,000 working in the United States alone.1
James Kofi Annan, a native of Ghana, knows the personal pain of human trafficking. At the age of six, he was taken by a fisherman and forced into child labor. Annan recalled: "It's really hard work and you're not fed properly and you're denied access to medical care, you're denied education."
At the age of 13, he ran away. Years later, after receiving an education, Annan decided to dedicate his life to rescuing other children through his organization, Challenging Heights (challengingheights.org), which provides programs of recovery, counseling, and reintegration into the community. Annan runs his program in Ghana but spends much time raising international awareness. In the ten years that Challenging Heights has been in operation, it has rescued over 1,200 children in Ghana.2
1. Job speaks about human trafficking in his day as a sign of God's absence: "The orphan is stolen from the breast; the infant of the poor is taken as collateral" (Job 24:9). Why do you think slavery has always been part of the human condition? Why are people willing to treat human beings as property to be used and abused?
2. Of the 29 million persons subjected to human trafficking, 1,200 have been rescued by Annan's organization, Challenging Heights. That is just .00004 percent of all victims. What do you think motivates Annan to help these children? How often are you discouraged because the troubles of the world seem so great? What difference does saving one life make?
3. Has your church taken the time to become informed about human trafficking? In what ways can the church help shine a light of hope, educating the community as well as coming to the aid of those who are vulnerable to the exploitation of human traffickers? How can Christians develop partnerships with law enforcement and government to work to bring an end to this practice?
4. Where do we find God in the midst of human suffering? Is God absent when sin prevails? Does God care about those who take advantage of child workers and sex workers? Where is God's love when justice is delayed? Where is God in your life when you find yourself exploited by your friends, family, or workplace?
Reverend Bruce Batchelor-Glader is the pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Port Clinton, Ohio.
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