Our church was visited by a pastor who works with International Justice Mission (IJM) this morning. He spoke of their efforts to rescue oppressed people out of slavery and forced prostitution around the world.
To me, these are the least of these. They ought to be absolute top of the church’s list of people we want to reach out to, and IJM is on the front lines.
They rescue slaves, place them in after care homes, and then, crucially, they prosecute the perpetrators, and finally they work to strengthen rule of law around the world.
In some of my previous posts I demonstrated concern for caring for the least of these around the world and recommended rescue efforts by the church. I have also called for looser immigration restrictions (for all, but) especially for oppressed peoples and refugees.
One element that I was really missing was the necessity of prosecution of perpetrators.
Now, perhaps the situation is a good parallel with American slavery. You see, if northerners really wanted to free the slaves in the south, they could have offered to buy them all rather than fighting a war. Of course, the war was only partially over slavery, but the moral justification for the Civil War rests upon the slavery issue.
If American Christians today were to start buying up all of the slaves worldwide it might just create a market for finding new slaves. There are so many people in Asia that if one slave is purchased and set free, there are hundreds of other bodies for the slave owner to take his money and buy a new slave with.
This hazzard also enters into situations where preganant mothers are supported through their pregnancies to prevent abortions. Does buying unwanted babies generate a market for baby making?
While rule of law is a necessessity for long-run abolition of slavery, we must keep in mind a story Some of you may have heard about a man walking down the beach, picking up starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. His friend said, “What are you trying to accomplish? It won’t make a difference! There will still be thousands of starfish washed up on the shore tomorrow!” To which he replied, as he tossed another starfish into the ocean, “Well, it made a difference to that one.”
Sometimes we just have to be faithful to do what is in our hands to do. We must rescue the slave first, and worry about generating a market for slaves later. We must help the pregnant woman today, and worry about setting a precedent later.
This is dissatisfying to my intellect, but settled in my spirit.
IJM is doing this the right way. I disslike some of their propaganda which appeals to political action, but that, too, is something best saved for later.
Does anyone know of other groups doing this kind of work?