Fighting for Freedom

Sep 21, 2016

To the Editor:

I have written before in this paper about the horrible problem of slavery in the world today. I want to speak now about how each of you can help eliminate it in our lifetime. On Sunday, Sept. 25, churches across the nation will come together for one day to dedicate an entire Sunday to freedom. Everywhere people will experience what justice and freedom mean to the enslaved and see how they can help lead the way to slavery’s end.

Right now, there are more than 45 million people who are being bought, sold and used against their will. Human slavery generates more than $150 billion each year. There are two million children currently enslaved in the sex trade. If solving this problem seems too big for any one person or organization to handle alone, you’re right.

The International Justice Mission, sponsor of Freedom Sunday, is the largest international antislavery organization. The members and friends of this organization have seen time and time again that justice for the poor is possible when people of good will step boldly into the fight.

I join IJM in wholeheartedly believing that if people join together, we will see a change. IJM staff relentlessly search for each one of these lives. And when they help free one, they stay with that survivor until that person is healed, until that person is free. And then they keep searching.

• CEBU, THE PHILIPPINES – A bulky desktop computer sits unplugged on the table in a police station. It looks harmless. But it’s not. It was once used to sell children as young as 2 years old for cybersex in the Philippines. In two different cases, six children, most under age 7, were rescued from cybersex trafficking rings. The rescued children are receiving crisis care at a temporary shelter, while IJM staff and government social workers assess each child’s needs to make a long-term plan. Two of the Filipino perpetrators were charged with child abuse and qualified trafficking, a non-bailable offense with a mandatory life sentence. IJM Cebu lawyers will keep working with local prosecutors to hold the suspects in both cases accountable. 

• CHENNAI, INDIA – Thirty people are now readjusting to life outside the confines of slavery. Just days ago, children and parents alike were standing in knee-high mud, digging up mounds of clay and pulling out rusty-red worms. They were slaves. Local police and IJM staff arrived at midday under a baking hot sun. They saw children, women and men with sweat streaking down their faces walking to their 4-foot high hovels made of straw arches covered with tarp. The rescue operation was over in minutes – the families hurriedly pulled the tarp covering their stick huts and rolled them up along with a few clothes and pans. Close to midnight, the officer handed out official release certificates – their emancipation papers – and about $20 in emergency cash to each person.

• SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Recently, a criminal was found guilty and sentenced in the Dominican Republic for the commercial sexual exploitation of a teenage girl. The ruling is only one of a handful of convictions handed down in the past decade. The conviction is the first for IJM’s office in the country. “This first conviction shows that the poor can receive justice in the Dominican Republic,” says IJM Field Office Director Fernando Rodriguez, adding, “We share joy with Miranda (not her real name) because she obtained justice against the man who exploited her. And we are full of hope as we look forward to helping many other victims in the country.”

Please join us at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Beach Haven, where our bishop, the Right Rev. William H. Stokes, will lead the congregation this day. Now is the perfect time to join. The best way to help IJM show up every day to protect the poor from violence is to become a Freedom Partner. Your financial impact for this struggle will be doubled if you give during the month of September. Donation envelopes will be available at Holy Innocents on Freedom Sunday, or you can become a Freedom Partner online at ijm.org

Gail South

Long Beach Township



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