Freedom for the Captives
Long ago the prophet Isaiah said, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:1–3).
Jesus began His public ministry by declaring these same words.
“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16-21).
From the start, Jesus made His intentions clear. He had come to save the lost and broken. His ministry was to the lonely, the sick, the poor, and the outcast. He reached out in mercy to people who had no hope. He touched the untouchable. He ministered to those who were most in need of compassion: the blind man, lepers, the sinful woman, the tax collector, the woman at the well, and Gentiles.
He calls us to do the same. All throughout His word, in both the Old Testament and New Testament, we read of God’s direction to reach out and minister to people in need.
- “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
- “… loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke … set the oppressed free and break every yoke … share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, clothe them and do not turn away from your own flesh and blood…” —Isaiah 58:6&7
- “… do away with the yoke of oppression … spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed …” —Isaiah 58:9–10
- “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” —Micah 6:8
- “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” —Matthew 25:40
From the beginning, Salvationists have been committed to bring the Gospel to the people and to care for their material needs. William Booth said, “You cannot warm the hearts of people with God’s love if they have an empty stomach and cold feet.” He also asked, “What is the use of preaching the Gospel to men (and women) whose whole attention is concentrated upon a mad, desperate struggle to keep themselves alive?” (emphasis added).
Our calling is to minister to the whole person. Our mission is justice. Our commitment to God and to holiness compels us to reach out with compassion—especially to the outcasts of society.
Anne Voskamp says, “When the Church isn’t for the suffering and broken, then the Church isn’t for Christ. Because Jesus always moves into places moved with grief. Jesus always seeks out where the suffering is, and that’s where Jesus stays. The wound in His side proves that Jesus is always on the side of the suffering, the wounded, the busted, the broken” (The Broken Way).
As General André Cox so urgently stated, “God is calling us to go out into the communities where we are placed to be shining lights, to be salt and light in the world. We need to be a mobilized Army. So what’s holding us back from standing up and taking this world for Jesus?”
by Lt. Colonel Patricia LaBossiere
|HOW TO HELP||HOW TO PRAY|
|Not everyone is called to reach out specifically to victims of human trafficking, but there are other ways to support this ministry.
Here are some ways you can become involved:
Everyone can do something. As Christine Caine says, “Christ in us transforms the world through us. Just as He did while He physically walked this earth, Christ in us reaches out to broken people in a broken world. Through us He feeds the hungry, heals the sick, befriends the lonely, gives hope to the hopeless, and saves the lost. He loves this world through meeting needs” (Unstoppable).
|If you feel especially led to pray about the issue of Human Trafficking, here are some guidelines to get you started:
Pray for the victims—that they will be freed from bondage and restored, that their needs will be met and they will be re–acclimated into society, that they will be healed of the physical and emotional wounds they have suffered, that they will know they are children of God who deserve to be loved and treasured, and pray that they will hear and respond to the gospel message. “I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Pray for people who are in ministry with this population
Pray for the breakdown of the sex industry—for closure of all establishments and pornography sites, for the arrest and conviction of pimps and traffickers, for repentance of sex buyers and reduction of demand, for God to convict the hearts of traffickers and transform their lives. “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed” (Psalm 103:6).