Slave Traders Not Always Punished

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Imagine being told that you are responsible for your family's debt. And to pay off that debt you will serve as a slave for the rest of your life.

Although it sounds like a story from a hundred years ago, it happens all too often today. The U.S. government calls the practice "modern-day slavery."

Almost 800,000 people are bought, sold or transported for forced labor or sex each year, according to an annual report released this week by the U.S. State Department. Most of these slaves are females or minors.

This year, 14 countries including Myanmar , Cuba, Iran, Syria and North Korea round out the list and face possible sanctions for human trafficking.

However, the slave trade is not limited to these countries. Human trafficking cases have been reported in major U.S. cities as well.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says while significant progress has been made, there's still a lot of work to be done.

"We closely examined prosecution data and made a disturbing discovery," Rice explained. "Although more countries are addressing human trafficking through prosecution and conviction the petty tyrants who exploit their laborers rarely receive serious punishment."

The Church and the Slave Trade

Throughout the timeline of history, the Church as a whole has had to deal with different cultures and their approach to slavery. Writing during during the time of the Roman Empire when slavery was considered the norm, the Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Colossians, warned slave masters they had a Master in Heaven who would judge them.  (Col. 1:4)

Churches, ministries and other relief organizations are doing what they can to fight against human slavery worldwide. But can slavery be stopped?

One former South Carolina peace officer thinks so. He was so moved by the stories of the sex slave trade in Asia that he decided to do something about it. According to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, former county sheriff Bill Coffey and his wife Charlie recently went to work for the Asia office of the International Justice Mission.

The IJM is a Washington-based Christian human rights agency, whose volunteers work with issues involving slavery, sexual exploitation and violent oppression.

In his new position, Coffey now uses his 30-plus years of experience in law enforcement to help local authorities investigate brothels and make arrests. His office has also joined with government social service agencies to help women and children, who cannot fight for themselves.

"In some cases, the justice system can't, or won't, respond," Coffey said. "There are many victims in bondage, and they don't have any recourse or an advocate."

The release of the motion picture Amazing Grace also tried to put a more human face on modern-day slavery. More than 4,000 churches of different denominations across the United States participated in an Amazing Grace Sunday campaign that brought much needed attention to the issue.

The release of the film on DVD also sparked an Amazing Change campaign in which 1.5 million signatures were collected on a special petition to stop human trafficking. This petition was then presented to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking in February of this year.

What You Can Do

IJM founder Gary Haugan says Christians can help stop slavery by using these suggestions.

-- Learn and pray about modern-day slavery.

-- Petition government to make enforcement of anti-slavery laws a priority in its dealings with other countries.

-- Financially support investigative and legal advocates.

-- Support rehabilitation services for those freed from slavery.

Sources: The Associated Press, Spartansburg, S.C. Herald-Journal, International Justice Mission, Christianity Today, Evangelical Covenant Church Website, the

Click the video player to watch Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's comments concerning the release of the U.S. State Department report.

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CBN News
Steve Warren

Steve Warren

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