What is God’s work? And who does it?

Human wrists bound with luggage tagsToday I want to share just one statistic and one startling thought with you.

Here’s the statistic: 88 percent of the human trafficking done today is for labor purposes.  Though it’s not as sexy (pun intended) to talk about as sex trafficking, kidnapping, abducting, or selling people — especially children — for the purpose of work and commerce is more than seven times as common as for sexual purposes.  This includes forced labor and bonded labor (requiring someone to work to pay off a debt or loan).  And while Dickens was a novelist not a documentarian, his depictions of debtor’s prisons at least give us the insight that many debtors were never able to work hard enough for long enough to ever get out of this situation.  The same holds true today.

Like all of you, SEED finds this reprehensible.  That someone could have such a desire for profit that they would enslave another person is mind-boggling.  And so we work hard against this: we are constantly seeking out new places where partnering with a group not only creates sustainable livelihood but also can prevent labor trafficking, in addition to sex trafficking.  We believe there is a dignity, an inherent worth, in doing good work and doing it well, and we strive to assist those who know or learn skills that enable them to support themselves and their families.

The startling thought is that Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie, and Bono, among others, may be doing more of God’s work than most people who call themselves Christians.  It occurs to me that there is a significant difference between working for God and doing the work of God.  If James 1.27 claims that pure faultless religion is looking after orphans and widows in their distress and keeping yourself from being polluted by the world, well … I’m afraid too many Christians major on the latter and don’t even study the former.

When God wanted to reform Israel in the Old Testament, he typically raised up judges and prophets.  Someone recently pointed out to me that, though the priests were supposed to all be Levites, most of the judges and prophets were not of the tribe of Levi.  That is, to reform the church, God raised up people outside the church’s usual structures.  This person then pointed out that today, though God calls for his people to be on the front lines for justice, caring, and service, it is often the media that serves the prophetic role, calling governments, business, and society at large to be accountable.  Hence, Leonardo’s involvement with climate change and animal welfare, Jolie’s with refugees, and Bono’s with African debt may well be doing more of what God asks than we are.

One last thought from James: in chapter 2 he writes “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (vv 15-16).  Will you join us in doing something about people’s physical needs?  You can give online (right now, this supports Directors David and Rose Brewer) or by contacting Jane Perry at 800.342.5531, ext. 249.  You can join our newsletter list and find out how to be a Champion or a Business Partner.  You can view our Upcoming Events and come support livelihood groups through purchase or donation.

for more information about and involvement in the fight against human trafficking, visit www.notforsalecampaign.org.

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