The slaves in our streets

Few people understand
that slavery, far from being a shameful feature of man’s ancient & recent
history, is today an internationally established criminal business generating US$150
million each year and affecting an estimated 29 million men, women & children; fewer still recognise that anyone living in one of London’s 33 boroughs is
likely to be living within a bus ride of victims experiencing some form of
slavery – these are the slaves in our streets, trapped in a horrific, hidden
underworld of sexual exploitation, enforced labour and fear.
The UK government
is taking note: with an estimated 4,500 slaves in the UK the 2010 Anti-Slavery
day Act was passed to highlight the plight of millions around the world through
the establishment of an annual Anti-slavery day on the 18th October.
The Modern Slavery Bill is currently being debated in parliament with hopes
that it will be established before the next general election & concerns that
it fails to address the needs of victims who find their way out of slavery.

What role for the church?

On the 29th July 1833 an elderly and ailing William Wilberforce died, just two days after he learned that his Bill abolishing slavery in the British Empire was to be passed. Wilberforce continues to be an inspiration to Christians the world over who want to tackle contemporary giants of social injustice. While these central government initiatives are undoubtedly helpful we cannot simply look on as approving spectators – we must educate ourselves, we must pray, we must act…

 

“Having heard all of this you may choose to look the
other way but you can never again say you did not know.” William Wilberforce
Two organisations
working in the same boroughs as Everyday Church are Merton Against Trafficking
and the newly formed Kingston Community Against Trafficking. Both organisations
exist as a local response to local slavery – tackling ignorance by raising
awareness of slavery as a local concern and actively researching and exposing
local establishments which propagate slavery & exploitation.

How can we help?

Merton Against Trafficking, now based in Raynes Park, have been operating since 2008; Antoinette, the
project Director, is keen to mobilise prayer and practical support from local churches.
Since 2008 they have carried out significant research into the sex industry in
Merton and have been instrumental in exposing establishments which trade in
victims of slavery and sex trafficking. They are currently recruiting for a
Research and Communications Assistant. As a church we are keen to actively
support their work and this has particularly been pursued by our Morden pastorate. If you’re interested in this issue and you belong to the Wimbledon Venue
contact the Difference Team to see how we can take this forward…
Kingston Community
Against Trafficking is launching now; project lead Lewis Davies previously worked
with the pioneering organisation Croydon Community Against Trafficking, cited by Home Secretary Theresa May when she first introduced the Modern Slavery Bill to parliament; having moved to Kingston Lewis feels burdened to extend this work into the borough.
KCAT has begun to research the sex industry in Kingston town centre, finding a
number of establishments in and around the one-way system. Lewis sees a key
part of his role as being to raise awareness in people of all ages and said
that he often finds that people respond with disbelief to the suggestion that prostitution,
trafficking or slavery have any place in leafy Kingston. This is despite the news which broke earlier
this year of a brothel being discovered and shut down in a luxury residential
block near Seven Kings. Lewis is currently looking to build a team of local
researchers and aims to hold one awareness raising event each month in 2015.
This is definitely a work that the Kingston Venue is going to get behind –
again, if you’re particularly interested, contact the Difference team.
Hope
has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger that
things are the way they are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they
are.
” St Augustine
of Hippo
There is an inherent hopelessness in slavery that lingers even after victims are freed. It is right to be angry about this issue; it is also right for us to
take a courageous stand against it. Please commit to praying for the victims
and perpetrators of slavery in our times, to educating yourself and to acting –
and leading others to act – as God leads you. Jesus is the hope of freedom for
all people and we must reach out to all people out of the riches of his love
and grace. Be a part of our church’s response to this modern day horror story
which is, as Theresa May wrote, being played out in the streets, shops,
supermarkets, fields, factories, brothels and homes all around us… we cannot
stay silent.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about
things that matter.” Martin Luther King
_________________________________________________________________________
There are many other
ways to get involved in this modern day abolitionist movement: amidst all this
choice one thing is absolutely clear – we cannot sit on the sidelines. What
will you do today?
You could:
LEARN about modern
day slavery:
More about the UK government’s response to slavery
Tearfund’s No Child Taken anti-child trafficking campaign
Anti-Slavery Day: What’s on this week 
PRAY now, and
commit to praying regularly for:
For Antoinette
& Merton Against Trafficking
For Lewis &
Kingston Community Against Trafficking
For victims and
perpetrators of slavery in the UK and beyond to find the love, peace and
restoration that can only come through Jesus Christ: Galatians 5:1 tells us
that it was for freedom that Christ set us free… in God’s economy our freedom
can and should mean freedom for many others as we reach out in prayer, practice
and powerful love…
ACT:
As you learn, raise
awareness of this issue in your own family, networks and community.
Become a volunteer
at one of these organisations and or speak to us about championing their work
within Everyday Church.
Consider
financially supporting one of these organisations beyond your regular giving to
the church.

 

Akhtar Shah

Leadership, Social Action, Evangelism.