Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Amazing Grace

In the summer of 2005 I heard Gary Haugen, President of International Justice Mission, speak at Soulfest. After a long day of good music, too much sun and enjoying ourselves, it was hard to take in his information about the world of human trafficking, slavery and the sex trade around the world. It was awful to think that you could be pretty well informed about the world and yet be oblivious to this whole other world. Why was no one talking about this?? He told stories about children in India who were indentured slaves for the rest of their lives to pay back a trumped up debt of their parents. Other stories were much worse. At the end of the talk they took an offering and we went back to the next concert.

But his talk stuck in my head the next year. I would occasionally go to the IJM website to check on their latest news or make a donation. Nothing huge, but it was stuck in my head.

This summer at Soulfest the Amazing Change campaign was there as part of the promotion for the upcoming Amazing Grace movie. If you want to feel humbled, listen to a 14 year old (Zach Hunter) talk about how he's changing the world and won't stop until he gets there. Again, more information about the horrors of human trafficking. This time there was a petition to sign that they are going to take to the US House and Senate (go to the Amazing Change site to download and sign it).

It's hard to understand the statistics because they make no sense to me. 15-20 thousand people trafficked into the US as slaves each year? How can that happen? Bonded labor is even more appalling:
Bonded labour affects at least 20 million* people around the world. People become bonded labourers by taking or being tricked into taking a loan for as little as the cost of medicine for a sick child. To repay the debt, many are forced to work long hours, seven days a week, up to 365 days a year. They receive basic food and shelter as 'payment' for their work, but may never pay off the loan, which can be passed down for generations.
Imagine being born into bonded labor and knowing this is your whole life.

I've been searching for some tactile thing to do and have found nothing so far. The Amazing Change site has a list of 10 things you can do, but they seem a little weak to me in light of the problem.

In the meantime, I'll definitely being going to see the Amazing Grace movie when it comes out in two weeks. I'm excited to learn more about William Wilberforce and how he took his heart for justice and spearheaded change. Awesome stuff. I hope the movie helps to raise awareness on this issue. Once you know about it, it's hard to forget.

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