Freedom Sunday.
A day where the faith community as a whole comes together in their place of worship and devotes their time to learn what it means to end slavery.

This is incredible.
As a Christian I truly believe that we, as the church, should be leading the movement to end slavery in our lifetime.

The night before Freedom Sunday my wonderful husband and I were hanging out with some friends and we chatted most of the evening about faith. We chatted various aspects of faith and at one point my husband said something absolutely wonderful. He mentioned that doing good things like feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, helping the widow and orphan, shouldn’t be something of special mention for a Christian. When you die people at your funeral shouldn’t be like “Aelea was awesome. She helped the poor, the orphans, etc…”. That should be commonplace. That is a given if you are a Christian. It would be like saying “Aelea liked to breathe air to survive everyday.” That is just a part of what we do, how we live every single day.
It should have no honorable mention.
We should all be living this way.
Those words have stuck with me.

The next day, Freedom Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak at Pathway Community Church. Since I had worked with Not For Sale as the Tour Fellow, and Not For Sale created Freedom Sunday, it was a pretty good fit. I gave a quick Human Trafficking 101 lesson then their pastor spoke an amazing message on Compassionate Justice. He used the story of the Good Samaritan and I can’t even begin to re-tell his message. One of the bottom lines is that compassion doesn’t just mean loving God and loving your neighbour, it means going above and beyond to treat your neighbour with the passionate, incredible, never ending love that God has for them.

…And to clarify, your neighbour is everyone.

Talk about no honorable mention… everyone is our neighbour… this is what we should all be doing.

Pathway also showed the documentary Nefarious: Merchant Of Souls that evening, open to anyone who wanted to come. Talking about the sex trade is a tricky thing– especially when a good chunk people would rather live “safe” faith. Nothing about Nefarious is safe. It’s dirty and in your face about the harsh truth and realities of human trafficking and the sex trade around the world. From women treated as cattle, sold to the highest bidder, and even children sold by their own family members. I spoke before the documentary about my time in Thailand in May 2012 (which you can read about on my blog– check the archives) and how hard it is to wrestle with the emotions that you face while there. These are the same emotions people who saw the documentary are living through right now and they all end up doing the same thing; fuelling a fire to do something.

Doing something about injustice is rarely safe. It requires you to go out on a limb, challenge the comfort of your every day life and stand up against issues others want to turn a blind eye to.

I saw people looking for what to do next. Passionate individuals who want next steps. And this is where my own personal struggle comes to play:
Yes, helping those in the sex trade is huge, but helping EVERYONE involved in slavery is SO IMPORTANT! It’s easy to watch a documentary about those being exploited in the sex trade and want to do something, but please don’t forget about those in exploitation making your clothes, your food, your toys. Toys for kids, made by kids? The food for your family meal picked by people being abused and exploited? I think it’s easier to feel the heart tugs of the sex trade because, for the most part, our view of sex is of how meaningful and special it is in the marriage relationship. To remove someone’s choice from sex is unacceptable. One thing to also keep in mind is that those being exploited in domestic servitude, labour, and other forms of slavery are also raped, beat up, taken advantage of, and made to feel worthless… just like those in the sex trade.

I want to encourage you to take steps forward with your new passion to not only end sex trafficking, but work to end slavery all together. Here are a few of my top practical application steps:

1) Pray. So often we look at prayer as a last resort but prayer is huge! Pray for those held captive– those being trafficked, the traffickers, the johns, and everyone else involved in the process.

2) Support organizations already standing against slavery! International Justice Mission does amazing work, same with Not For Sale and Love 146 to just name a few that I personally know are awesome. Even organizations like Kiva— providing loans so individuals coming out of exploitation have a future, and those vulnerable never become exploited.

3) Educate yourself, then educate others! Read the book Not For Sale by David Batstone and Disposable People by Kevin Bales. Share what you learn! Tweet about it, share it with friends and family on facebook!

4) Shop smart. Seek out ethical options for your every day purchases using resources like Free2Work, and also know that a lot of artisan made goods (think Ten Thousand Villages) are made by survivors or those at risk for exploitation. Buying their products can ensure they don’t end up exploited.

5) Pray some more. Gather with others passionate and pray. If you ask God what you can do to end slavery, and you are willing, He is sure to move you to meaningful action.

We, as individuals with passionate hearts to live out lives rooted in love, can end slavery. Every prayer, every Facebook or Twitter post, every dollar donated, truly makes a difference in creating more activists that will come together to see slavery ended in our lifetime.