I’m not exactly sure how writing about this ugly problem fell into my wheelhouse, but it’s there now in all its barbarity and horror. You see, over the past year I’ve had the privilege of writing the discussion guides for two different trafficking-focused movies, and I was just asked to participate in an entirely new trafficking awareness project this summer with a team of amazing people. Modern-day slavery, especially as it relates to children, is becoming, for me, an unexpected area of expertise, a familiar theme.
In some ways the fit has been comfortable. I’ve been advocating for victims of child sexual abuse for several years now, and this is, on a certain level, simply child sexual abuse in its most extreme form. In fact, anti-slavery campaigns fit the manner and habits of The Realist quite well: Stun with the truth, cry loudly for action.
I can do this, even with eyes closed.
But I’ve had to dig deep with these projects, beyond a simple soapbox stand or call to action. I’ve had to sift through the theologies of suffering and forgiveness, excavate the biblical mandates to care for the least of these, and peel back the layers of complexity surrounding the problem. Indeed, abolition is not as simple as rescuing the enslaved and locking up slavers. Until there’s no reason anyone would sell a child, until there’s no demand for child prostitutes, until … until … this wickedness will never be completely eradicated.
And in some ways I dread the hours of research, the writing and rewriting in order to find new ways to delicately address the details no one wants to say out loud. I dread the consequences of attempting to unhinge the grip of evil from our world. What others who fight this abomination from the front lines or the outposts understand is that when you look into the face of darkness, I’m sorry to tell you, the darkness has been known to look back. I never saw the battle of spiritual warfare until this tiny keyboard torch revealed it, as I clumsily pierced the black abyss with nothing more than simple words.
Which is why I want to embark on this particular journey listening closely to The One Who Reaches. She sees through kingdom eyes. The One Who Reaches scans the bigger picture and doesn’t succumb to tunnel vision in the lightless night as she inches her way toward hope. Banners of protest, shouts of what we’re against … The Realist will do hours of such necessary work and always will, while The One Who Reaches will dare to dream of a world without slavery, of the world she is for, the world I am for, not the one I’m against.
I’m for a world where women and children are more than commodities fueling a 32 billion dollar industry
With police ever pure, ever vigilant and governments that don’t look the other way
I’m for laws that carve out the boundaries between one human being and another
I’m for never treating an actual person as property, goods or trade
I’m for justice systems with no statutes of limitation on evil
Correctional systems that keep pedophiles at bay
I’m for societies where women can earn an honest living
Where bodies are not degrated to pay debts or entertain
I’m for employers who compensate with fair wages, never beatings, never chains
For families parents can feed, no need to consider selling one mouth for gain
I’m for educating every child, no matter how poor, no matter how unwanted
For after-school chores, for after-school play, for bandaids for bruises, for fun and for games
I’m for cultures that value the innocence of childhood
That hold responsibly and carefully the fragility of youth
I’m for sex only and ever for grownups—born of commitment, of love, free from violence and shame
For drugs that cheat death and cure diseases, drugs that heal, that don’t enslave
I’m for babies who are loved and cherished, children who are adored
For tears falling from ordinary joys and sorrows, not beaten bones, not torment, not woe
I’m for spirits that are unbroken, hearts emancipated, souls redeemed
I’m for freedom, freedom, freedom; HOPE unbridled, God’s LOVE unleashed