There are 27 million people enslaved in our world today. This makes slavery one of the top three criminal activities in the world.
Slavery is still amongst the darkest of crimes. Slaves are people that are forced to work without pay, abused by the constant threat of violence and deprived of the freedom to leave.
But there is hope! We are better positioned to end slavery now than we have ever been. Although there more slaves than there have ever been, as a proportion of the world’s population, there are far less people in slavery now than there were even during the trans-atlantic slave trade 200 years ago.
The cost of ending slavery, as a proportion of world income is also far smaller now than it has ever been. We can help to finally bring about the end of this injustice once and for all.
What the Bible says
When the prophet Isaiah describes what God’s restored world to the people of Israel, a people that were familiar with slavery and oppression, he points out that in the new heaven and new earth no person will be enslaved, and each will enjoy the fruits of their labour.
A family of carpet weavers, working to pay off a debt
“They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.” (Is 65:21-22)
God’s intent for the restored world, as we would expect, is reflected in His original plan for the world before it was fractured by sin. The opening chapters of Genesis reveal to us that God created humankind in his image. We see that all people were created for relationship, for worship and to collectively govern God’s earth as His chosen stewards.
Slavery stands opposed to God’s original plan. It fractures relationship, where masters treat slaves like property rather than fellow beings that share God’s image. It fractures stewardship, where slaves, instead of being co-rulers over creation are stripped of all power and freedom and are left without the capacity to even rule over their own lives. And finally, for those that come to see oppression and exploitation as acceptable, it fractures their capacity to worship the God of justice and love.
The institution of slavery was never part of God’s original plan, and it will not be a part of the world when it is restored under God’s rule. As Christians living in the time between creation and new creation, we are called to be agents of renewal, and even now, do all in our power to ensure that our fallen world reflects as closely as possible the renewed world that is to come.
We are working with our coalition partner Stop the Traffik to advocate for those living in slavery. We are doing this by:
- Asking the Australian Government to take action. Australia can play a big part in ending slavery by introducing legislation to ensure slave-made goods are prevented from entering our country. We can also support anti-slavery programs overseas.
- Asking Australian companies to take action to ensure there are no slaves in their supply chain:
Another way that we can all help end slavery is to be wise in which products we choose to buy. Learn more about how you can be fair and make a difference in the way that you shop.
Photos: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department