Trafficking and Social Justice – Devotional Series
Since coming into my appointment as Territorial Social Justice Secretary over 3 1/2 years ago, I have regularly been asked, “What exactly is social justice?” and “What does that look like for the Salvation Army today?” There are many forms of social justice issues that the Salvation army focuses on, but today I want to look at the global problem of human trafficking.
Social Justice has been an integral part of the DNA of The Salvation Army from its earliest inception in the East End of London. The idea was fleshed out by the vision of William and Catherine Booth and passed on through generations of Salvationists. General Evangeline Booth said, “Be an enemy, a fighting enemy of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Be an aggressor, carry the war into the enemy’s camp. Be a fighter, a soldier, a man or woman who has the fire of war against sin in their blood and bone.”
This coming Sunday, September 27th, The Salvation Army was designated as The International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking. Around the world, thousands of people will focus on human trafficking and modern slavery. Today I want to invite you to consider joining us as we collectively cry out to God for justice and freedom for our brothers and sisters across the globe… We want to activate our combined voices to say that we believe a world without modern slavery and human trafficking is possible.
Human Trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to over 40 million people all over the world. To give you a better perspective, than is more that the total population of the country of Canada.
In 1865, Catherine Booth said (referring to human trafficking, prostitution, and commercial sexual exploitation in London), “I felt as though I must go and walk the streets and besiege the dens where these hellish iniquities are going on. To keep quiet seemed like being a traitor to humanity.” These quotes stir and energizes my soul and spirit! Today, I see across the world the work that The Salvation Army is still doing to fight human trafficking. It is truly “entering the enemy’s camp” and fighting on the front lines.
The Salvation Army is on the front lines of this battle all over the world. We have come a long way, but we are not yet victorious. We need to work together as we each play our role in this fight. We, as followers of Christ, are called upon to fight for the elimination of all forms of slavery and human trafficking.
The international Salvation Army has developed a strategy to fight human trafficking called “Fight for Freedom” and more information on these resources can be found at:
Click here for International Social Justice Commission resources for The Salvation Army global #FightForFreedom Strategy initiated by IHQ
Recently, I was privileged to be a part of the editorial team that has put together a 31 Day Anti-Human Trafficking Devotional Guide in both online and hard copy format. If you would like to join us in these devotional readings you can find the online version at:
Click here for the Online Devotional – A 31 Day Prayer and Response to Human Trafficking
(There are also hard copy versions available at THQ in the Social Ministries Department on the first floor of THQ)
In closing, I want to share my thoughts that I wrote for Day 31 of the guide.
May the Lord speak to you as He spoke to me through Psalm 10
DAY 31: CLOSING THOUGHTS :
PSALM 10 (NIV)
1 Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
your laws are rejected by him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”
7 His mouth is full of lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
9 like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, “God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees.”
12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.
Have you ever been so angry, so frustrated, so desperate for justice that you just cried out to God with your blood boiling, veins pulsing, lungs bursting? The psalmist felt exactly that way. This psalm of lament is so much more than just lament. It is righteous anger and indignation. Psalm 10 is mind blowing in its accuracy – describing the vile and violent exploitation of the vulnerable and victims of evildoers or “traffickers” in this case, as well as, in describing our God of justice in times of distress.
The parallels between the words of this 3000-year-old scripture and the reports of how traffickers in the 21st century prey upon their victims are staggering. If you know anything of the way traffickers operate and who they target. If you have seen any trafficking documentaries, read anything on trafficking in the current media, verses like 8-10 will resonate with today’s news. What is so powerful about this Psalm is that it also shows us the issue of the exploitation of the poor and the oppressed not only from our perspective, but from God’s perspective. The psalmist directs His cries to God, first asking “Where are You God?” then “Why God?” and then begging God to do something: “Arise O Lord, show yourself strong!”
We have all been there, asking those same questions, venting to the God of the Universe as to why he allows suffering and injustice to continue. The psalmist then reminds himself that God does see and will repay the evil that has plagued the world for generations. He affirms God’s sovereignty in verse 16 saying “the Lord is King forever and ever” and reminds us that God will bring justice to the oppressed. In His way and in His time.
By sending Jesus as God incarnate, God stepped into a broken world and brought ultimate redemption from all sin. By sending the Holy Spirit, God has also empowered the church and believers everywhere and throughout all generations to act on His behalf. We are to be His hands and feet and His voice speaking out and fighting against evil in all its forms, no matter what the cost, or what the odds seems to be against us. We can bring the justice that others need.
For over 151 years, The Salvation Army has battled against human trafficking, and the fight continues today on a global front. In the USA alone there are currently 46 Anti-Human Trafficking initiatives across the nation supporting survivors of human trafficking in rebuilding their lives. Look up information on the work in your area at: sajustice.us and pray that the Lord will strengthen, protect, and equip those who minister on the front lines. And as you have opportunity, join us in the fight.
Lord, we know we are in an eternal battle. We know we have an enemy who wants to kill, steal and destroy your creatures and your creation. We thank You that You DO see and hear the cries of the oppressed. Raise up your people, your church, your body… YOUR ARMY in Jesus Name. Amen
written by Major Susan Dunigan, Social Ministries Department, USA East