in honor of black history month, i thought we should take a moment to think of the slavery that still is happening worldwide.
there is a movie coming to theaters next friday called "amazing grace." it is a story of true events that led to abolition of slavery in england. i have been excited to see it ever since i first saw the trailer a month ago... i would encourage you to check out the amazing change campaign - it is a website dedicated to helping slaves- both literal and economical- worldwide. look around there to see some of the things that are happening globally.
yesterday at pwoc (the army wives' bible study i have been attending), there was a special speaker who worked in vietnam and northern thailand for several years as a missionary. one people group he talked about especially stuck out to me- the shan living between myanmar (burma) and thailand. this people group (300,000 in number) were forced from their villages in burma and told that they would be killed if they returned. however, thailand won't allow most of them into their country, either- most of them are literally living in the jungles between the guarded gates of both countries. children are often either abandoned or sold into slavery or prostitution (which are really synonomous...)
have you heard of the dalit? they are a people group whose name literally means "untouchables"- 250 million people who have been told by the upper castes of india that they are less than human. if even a dalit’s shadow falls on an upper caste person, that person is polluted according to caste rules. (that description comes from this website.)
if you want more information that any of these sites have, just do a google search- you will be amazed what you come up with.
if you are like me, you will look at this information and say, "so what? what in the world can i do about it? nothing." you know, in some ways i agree. i don't believe that signing a petition will honestly end slavery- it is a much deeper issue than american popular opinion. however, i do believe that we do the body of Christ good to be informed on these issues, to at least KNOW what is happening. to pray over these people groups. to do what we can to help the truly needy in our world.
keep in mind, too, that these people also have little to no Christian witness- some are persecuted horribly. we have brothers and sisters who are suffering in chains even today.
and honestly, i think that many churches and Christians- not wanting to be named among the social gospel movement- have gone too far in neglecting the physical needs of those around us. yes, you will get taken advantage of. yes, you may feel like it's just a drop in the bucket. is that what you would tell Christ? you didn't contribute to the food pantry because people take advantage of it? that you didn't give to a charity because you think it's probably some grand conspiracy to take your money?
maybe so. i know that i would rather err on the side of showing love. isn't that what Christianity is all about? helping the poor, the widows, the orphans... showing love to those who would never see it otherwise...
here are some practical suggestions if you'd like to get involved. this is just the tip of the iceburg. if you can't give, then pray. pray for these people to know Christ, and pray also that they would be free from the physical torment in which they are currently living.
Samaritan's Purse (they have a cool catalog at christmas that you can actually buy "gifts" for someone in a third-world country- gifts like chickens, bibles, school supplies, a well, farming equipment, etc)
if you know of other groups that focus on enslaved, displaced, or impoverished people groups, feel free to list it in the comments section.