Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Call and Response

I saw CallandResponse last night. Everyone in America should see this film. I hope there will be a time when it’s shown in churches and on campuses all over the country.

Especially at a time when all of America is transfixed on the election and our own economic woes it isn’t a bad idea to consider the bigger picture. And yes, there is a bigger picture in the world.

The film is about the Modern Slave Trade. Sex Trafficking. Child Soldiers. Slaves. It’s not new to me; I’ve seen some of it with my own eyes. What is exciting is that this film/movement is what is needed in our entertainment bent, visually oriented society. Maybe this film will bring this atrocity to the fore.

I have often wondered what it would have been like to live in America when Slavery was legal or to have been an adult during the tumultuous Civil Rights era. Where would I have stood? What would I have done or said? What position would my church have taken?

It’s easy from where I stand now as a Christian to say that slavery is/was categorically wrong and that I would have stood up for those who couldn’t. I once denied a State funded public service to a well known Mississippi white supremacist simply because I didn’t want to have anything to do with the guy. I guess I wasn’t “salt and light” to the guy. He was finally convicted 30 years later of murder and died in prison.

Christians have always been among the leaders of Abolitionist movements. The Call and Response film mentions a meeting of political leaders and abolitionist like Wilberforce in England that led to the downfall of slavery in that great empire (see the movie Amazing Grace). My British friend Andrew Shearman says that Prophets precede Politics. Former slave trader turned preacher John Newton along with Great Awakening preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield and later Finney and Beecher and others were the prophets that preceded the political end of slavery during the first Abolitionist Movement.

I know many Christians were involved in the Civil Rights Movements of the 60’s. I also know many were not. Many of the churches in the South were silent at best. My own denomination was birthed in part because Baptist in the northern states received more Foreign Mission appointments than their slave-holding Southern counterparts. Imagine that? Because you’re a Southern Slave Holder you fail to receive an appointment from the mission board so you feel discriminated against and therefore form your own denomination. Oh the irony!

But I digress. That was then. This is now. There are more slaves in the world today than all those who were forcibly removed from Africa in more than 400 years of the transatlantic slave trade. And they are considerably cheaper now. Call it outsourcing I guess. A slave bought in 1840 in America might cost $1400.00…which is about $30,000.00 in 2008 currency. TODAY a child can be bought in India for $300.00. It’s about money. Greed. Evil. Trafficking in Drugs, Arms, and Humans are the 3 biggest illicit money-makers in the world today.

So. 20 years from now. 50 years from now. 100 years from now. When the world looks back at you and me. When the world looks at our generation. What will history record of us? Where did we stand? What did we do? Were we a part of the struggle? Did we turn a blind eye?

I am overwhelmed at the thought of 27 million slaves in the world. I am overwhelmed at the amount of money that’s involved. I am overwhelmed when I even consider doing something about it. Where to start? What to do?

I know you are too. That’s ok. Just do something, even if it seems small and insignificant. Start by visiting the Call and Response website. Maybe check out some of the current World Race blogs from teams that recently ministered in Vietnam. Just do something. Be on the right side of this issue for them . . .for you. . . for your children and grandchildren.

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