Freedom is not the solution to slavery, it is the reality. Before time began, freedom in Christ – simply because of who our Creator God is – was a promise. It still is and forever will be. Slavery can morph and change into as many heads as humanly possible, but it cannot overcome freedom. Yet unless we pursue this freedom from Christ's centre, the Hydra will beat us every time on the front lines.
Yesterday – Sunday, February 26 2012 – students of the MAUS program at Eastern University gathered for our residency worship service. It just happened to coincide with Not For Sale's annual Freedom Sunday event. Thousands of believers from around the globe, from across denominational spectrums, from different faith traditions all committed to praying for those involved in the modern slave trade, to confess our compliance with the status quo, to celebrate efforts for abolition, and to thank and praise our Almighty God for the freedom already given in Jesus Christ.
With the help of staff, faculty and students, we decided that our worship service, although not a "permanent faith congregation", would honour and celebrate Freedom Sunday: Faith. Justice. Reason. Human trafficking does not stand alone in its growing twisted life. It feeds on poverty, and likewise nourishes it. The same is true for homelessness, immigrant issues, racism, broken systems that leave vulnerable people falling through the cracks, addictions, abuse, and so many other heads to the Hydra. Instead of making Freedom Sunday a "special" within the service, it became the service itself.
We sang songs of freedom… songs from the underground that rose up through cracks of jails, prisons, walls and closets so many find themselves in. We called and responded for families around the world who are broken and in need of healing and restoration.
We prayed and interceded for men and boys specifically, knowing male issues are often forgotten when thinking the enormity of female victims in the trade. We acknowledged that the majority of the demand of sexual services are male, and confessed our enablement in this process. We asked for places and people of healing, love and acceptance for boys and men be brought forth, so they might learn their humanity in Christ, and their belovedness.
We called out and responded to the need for us to be made uncomfortable with immigration issues are they are now in North America. Our dependency upon a slave class for our goods and services relentlessly fuels the Hydra, yet we still insist on seeing these people in our own countries as outcasts. Not only do our consumerism habits need to change, but our very view of the people around us whom we have cast off as "sinful", "illegal", or "wrong" must also be smashed and rebuilt towards freedom.
We praised God for creating women and children in a divine and holy image. We pled for mercy for female victims often put into impossible places – being sold as property, instead of being loved as human. We echoed the words of Christ that the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children, and prayed that we would be the hands and feet to remove every obstacle hindering their approach to the One who loves them best of all.
We meditated during times of silence as pictures of beauty struggling for freedom, and beauty in freedom were shown on power points. We listened to God… we listened FOR God… we listened to one another… and affirmed that the dismantling of chains begins here, whether in belief, word, or in deed, in relationship with our Almighty God.
We also rejoiced! Slavery has seen its end. And for all of its ugliness and atrocity and destruction, the end is beautiful.