A Crime So Monstrous …

… is the title of a book by Ben Skinner, about human trafficking. And it’s aptly named. From my blog over on God’s Politics:

If there is one basic denigration of the image of God that lies in every human being, it is when he is treated as if he were not made in the image of God and forced into bonded labor, or when she is treated as if she had no value or dignity and made to offer her body for someone else to exploit and someone else to profit.

You can read the rest here: “Slavery is Alive and Well … For Now.” And if you live in the US, you can click through on the link to ask your members of Congress to take an important step to combating child slavery internationally by supporting the Child Protection Compact Act.

Young Christians lament injustice

Last night, I was privileged to lead hundreds of young Christians in a time of lament as part of the Poverty and Advocacy track at Urbana 2009. We came together to cry out to God on behalf of those suffering from injustice and oppression, and particularly, as part of the Human Wrong Initiative, on behalf of millions of children trapped in modern slavery: in forced prostitution, forced labor, or recruited to be child soldiers. We came together to mourn the wrong that we see in the world, following the biblical precedents of the psalmists, of the prophets, and of Jesus, in engaging with God in prayer to seek change.

My role was to prepare the way for lament: to lay the biblical foundations, to provide a framework for engaging in lament, and to encourage a safe environment in which lament could take place. The rest was up to the students and God.

And boy, did we meet with God …

One of the last points that I made was that biblical lament stirs us to action and partnership with God. In Luke 19, Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He cried, “Oh, if you only knew the things that make for peace …” And then he went and cleared the temple. My prayer for those who engaged last night is that they use that session as a launching pad to do great and mighty things in the service of the kingdom of God.

[You can find recorded webcasts of the main Urbana 09 events here.]

The last weeks of 2009

Last week, I celebrated Christmas with Aaron, Amy and Elijah in Huntington, WV, home of Marshall University (“We Are Marshall”) and of Amy’s family. It was great spending a few days outside of DC, and with an awesome and wonderfully welcoming family.

To boot, last week …

  • I got to go on a tour of the East Wing of the White House.
  • I got to talk with family in Australia, Hong Kong, and California.
  • I got to talk with friends in New Zealand, Pennsylvania, Texas, and California. (What up, iChat video conferencing?!)
  • I got to watch a truckload of enjoyable movies: Avatar, Invictus, The Blind Side, The Invention of Lying, and Sherlock Holmes.

It was a good week. 🙂

[For Christmas pics, check out my Facebook.]

This week, I’m in snowbound St Louis for Urbana 2009, InterVarsity’s triennial missions conference. I’m here with Sojourners, who are co-leading the Poverty and Advocacy track along with World Vision and International Justice Mission. It’s the first time in Urbana’s history that they’re looking at advocacy as a form of mission, and so it’s a pretty momentous occasion and an exciting development.

One of the things we’re launching this week is the Human Wrong Initiative, which is geared towards combating child slavery in all its forms: prostitution, forced labor, and child-soldiering. Of the 27 million people still in slavery today, about half are women and children.

This is how the world is today. But it is not how the world should be. Nor how the world needs to be. Join us, get involved, let your friends know. Let’s stamp out child slavery.

The other thing that’s happening (that I’m involved with) is helping Sojourners lead a night of lament for the injustice in the world; that’ll take place tomorrow (December 29th). I’ll only be speaking for a few minutes, but I’m gonna be laying the groundwork for the couple hundred students in our track to engage with God in this way, so I’d appreciate your prayers!

[Pics to Urbana will follow. :)]

Human Trafficking

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, but with the busyness of the last quarter and the downtime afforded me by this spring break, I’m only getting around to it now. I’m only offering a snapshot, providing some links, hoping you’ll go look up some stuff for yourself and get involved in the fight against the modern day slave trade.

I came across this staggering truth only in recent years, thanks to Kevin Bales’ Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy and David Batstone’s Not for Sale. As Bales writes, slavery is still alive and well, two centuries after the Slave Trade Act was passed in Great Britain and nearly 150 years after the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment in the United States. “Around the world we still face the terrible frozen face of ignorance. The awareness that there are twenty-seven million slaves in the world has not yet fully penetrated the public mind, but the sparks and fires of committed people are beginning to melt that icy apathy” (xii).

Twenty-seven million people are trafficked. Twenty-seven million.

Think about it. It’s a justice issue. It’s a moral issue. It shouldn’t be happening.

Organizations and websites you can check out (nicked from one of the appendices of Gary Haugen’s Just Courage:

Amnesty International
Anti-Slavery International (UK)
Freedom House
HumanTrafficking.org
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
International Labour Organization
UNICEF
United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
US Department of Justice
US Department of Health & Human Services: Campaign to Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking
US Department of State: Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
World Health Organization

See also:

The Sold Project
Oasis’s Stop the Traffik
Free the Slaves
Call+Response

Mélange

I feel kind of weird blogging again, having been away for so long. It’s been a crazy-busy few weeks since I last posted. And there’s much that I’ve wanted to write, but I’ve either had no time or no energy or no motivation. So, in no particular order:

  • Started working in the Admissions Office again (+15 hours).
  • The weekend before the beginning of quarter, my faithful MacBook died on me.
  • Four days later, I got a great deal on a new MacBook Pro to replace it (thanks, Ivan!).
  • The MacBook Pro is awesome.
  • Inauguration Day was awesome.
  • Celebrated Chinese New Year in style with Christina and family, and friends.
  • Had a phenomenal Valentine’s Day (we’re now on a roll: five consecutive good V-Days and counting): babysitting Jackson, waffle brunch with the neighbors, dim sum brunch, and then …
  • Snowboarding for the first time! I only wiped out a couple times (one of which left me with a bruise on the back of my head and minor whiplash), and had a phenomenal time. I’ll post some more pics when Judith gets around to posting them.
  • The day after Valentine’s Day was crammed with catching up on schoolwork because of all the fun I had the day before; plus, I was pretty hurting, so sitting at a computer working on papers and reading for most of the day did not help that.
  • Had two dim sum runs and a dumpling run, among a number of other culinary expeditions. Food = so good.

On a more serious note, go visit The Sold Project. My friend Rachel is the executive director of this non-profit. Go get informed about child prostitution in Thailand, just one horrible facet of human trafficking which enslaves 27 million people globally. More on this to come.

Oh, and then there’s future news …

It’ll have to wait till next time.