A Cambodian child sold to a Japanese couple in Phnom Penh to be a domestic helper. A Thai woman recalling her childhood of being exploited by man after man, all facilitated by her father. A group of immigrants being forced to pay off their debt to their broker by working in a restaurant in San Francisco for no pay.
In our travels around the world, our encounters with human trafficking have been sobering. But the more we’ve seen of human trafficking, or modern slavery, the more we’ve become convinced that it’s actually a symptom of a much deeper problem.
The real problem is brokenness. We’ve moved away from caring for each other in community and we don’t know how to live together any longer. As a result, our communities are broken. This spills out into broken systems and cultures, too. Our community breakdown creates a breeding ground for not only exploitation and slavery, but it also perpetuates poverty, racism, gender inequality, and other injustices.
But there is hope. Jesus has been anointed to proclaim good news for those who need it, liberty for the captives, healing for the broken, the jubilee arriving for God’s people. Jesus liberates, saves, and brings healing and hope. We are invited not only to be free, but also to thrive in the new future, and then to partner with God to set others free in the name of Jesus.
That’s why we can’t talk about slavery without talking about our mutual brokenness—in both parishioners and pastors, in pupils and teachers, in service recipients and service providers—and how God longs to frees us all. Only Jesus can liberate us and heal us. Once we are liberated we join with others on the journey of following Jesus toward shalom.
What does it truly mean to be set free and live in the freedom Jesus offers? Is it physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual? How does it manifest in our lives personally? What is our role in helping set others free?
Urban Shalom is a 13-week study written by Rev. Dr. Kevin Austin with Katie Bergman. Order copies for yourself or for your small group now.