Last night I went to a video screening sponsored by the West Chicagoland Anti-Trafficking Coalition (WCATC). The video was Call + Response, a combination documentary/musical benefit shedding light on the issue of modern-day slavery. I’ve put more information about the film near the bottom of the post, but what I really want to share is the prayer, written by Scott Sauls, that WCATC co-founder Terri Kraus prayed at the close of the event. Please join me in this prayer today.
Lord Jesus, no one knows suffering, oppression, and abuse like you do. As we come together on such a weighty subject as human slavery and trafficking, we pause to remember that you were sold for money by a scoundrel, so that other scoundrels could have their way with you. You were made a slave…pierced, crushed, and punished, even though you had done no wrong. You had your innocence violated as you were led to a dark back alley. You were stripped naked and abused—pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. You sympathize with human suffering. And in time, you are committed to end it…to renew the world until there is no more death, no more mourning, no more crying, no more pain. In the meantime, Father, you give solidarity to victims, and support to those who protect and defend them. We do not know what we would do if you were not a defender of the weak, a lover of justice, and full of grace and compassion toward those who hurt.
It is because you love justice and are full of compassion that certain things anger you, Father, just like they anger us. You get angry when vulnerable people, created in your image, are threatened, exploited, degraded, and used. The victims in whose honor and for whose protection and rescue we gather today, are most certainly among these people.
We are grieved and sickened by the way that shame, fear, manipulation, exploitation, injustice and abuse destroy the lives and crush the spirits of slaves around the world and also slaves in our own state, towns, and neighborhoods. We are comforted to know that you are sickened too—and that you, Lord, hold the power and the will to change things. You are the King of heaven’s armies. And so, Father, we ask, please…
Put an end to this wicked and ridiculous industry. Bring justice. Crush evil under your feet.
Save those who are trafficked and exploited. Give them a chance to be physically, spiritually, relationally, and emotionally whole.
Protect all children, youth and adults who are the targets of abusers and human traffickers. Oh God, guard their lives and hold their hearts.
For the traffickers, for those who facilitate slavery, and for those who buy their illicit services…would you frustrate their efforts. Bring them down and take them out. Bring them to justice. Change their hearts so they will forsake their ways, we pray.
And for those like ourselves who have the power to help, because it is often through ordinary people that you choose to bring about extraordinary change—faith communities, potential donors of money and wisdom and time—please stir our consciences, enflame our hearts, call us to action. Show us what it means to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you. Show us what it means to respond compassionately and decisively on behalf of those who need help and rescue. Show us what it means to freely give love away, just as we have ourselves freely received love from Jesus, the One who was exploited and handled and sold to his oppressors for thirty pieces of silver so that we could be saved from everything that’s wrong with us, and also from everything that’s wrong with the world—Jesus, by whose stripes we are healed. It is in his powerful name that we pray. Amen.
I did some research today and found several other prayer guides and devotionals specifically related to justice issues. The links are below:
Salvation Army Prayer Guide (really, really good!)
The A21 Campaign prayer guide (also has some action steps and a great list of verses)
NOTES ON THE CALL + RESPONSE FILM (PLUS LINKS):
The film featured activists such as Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission, David Batstone of Not for Sale, Dr. Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves; public figures such as Madeleine Albright, Dr. Cornel West, and Ambassador John Miller; author Nicholas Kristof (Half the Sky); celebrity activists such as Julia Ormond, Ashley Judd, and Daryl Hanna; and musicians Cold War Kids, Switchfoot, Moby, Talib Kweli, Natasha Bedingfield (among many others).
The film is now eight years old, but it is still very relevant. The number of slaves at its making–27 million slaves–is no less today, and the call for an abolitionist movement is needed. There is plenty of commentary on this documentary, so I don’t necessarily want to comment on it, other than to say that if you get the chance to view it, you should.
There were, of course, parts of the video that horrified me yet again with facts I already knew but often try to forget. Reading that children as young as seven are used as sex slaves is far different than seeing a video of a little girl tell about what she has to do on a daily basis.
The activists and celebrities in the film were passionate and articulate. Here are a few quotes that jumped out at me:
Ambassador John Miller spoke about the fact that the abolitionists in England were fighting against a slave trade that was not only legal but was considered moral by many of the ruling class. He then said: “We need a 21st century abolitionist movement” with the same courage and outrage.
Ashley Judd, on moving on from indignation–which she said almost all of us feel when we hear about this terrible issue: “Every person has the spiritual responsibility of cultivating that indignation till it creates action.”
Ashley Judd, speaking about the labor slavery that is often used to produce our clothes, our technology, etc.: “I don’t want to wear someone’s despair.”