With required seminary readings temporarily paused, I just picked up a Kindle version of Michael Card’s A Better Freedom: Finding Life as Slaves of Christ. I haven’t had time to read more than a few pages so far. Here are a few excerpts you might appreciate:
IN ORDER TO BE TRULY FREE one must become a slave to Christ.
This book comes from a paradox. Basing books on paradoxes is risky enough, but when the paradox is centered on a corrupt institution as complex and convoluted as slavery you are really asking for trouble. But Jesus was always asking for trouble, and he is forever redeeming things that are corrupted and convoluted.
This book is meant to provide a basic introduction to the subject of slavery, in both biblical and modern times, and what it means for the Christian life. It is designed to foster an interest in the topic. I hope that it will get you hooked on the notion of the radical transformation that occurs when someone embraces the gospel as a servant. It is about how freedom comes from slavery.
The book does not pretend to be a comprehensive statement on first-century slavery, a broad and deep topic that has called forth shelves of books. It does not intend to argue for the use of the word slave over and above the word servant. The issue is a matter not of translation but transformation. For those who want to dig deeper into the academic issues a bibliography has been provided. In regard to slavery in the New Testament, I suggest you begin with Murray J. Harris’s Slave of Christ, a wonderfully concise yet comprehensive book on the subject.
Neither does this book pretend to be anything like a complete introduction to the African American slave experience. For every book on first-century slavery I would guess there are a hundred on slavery in America. The voices of African American slaves appear in this book to speak for those first-century slaves who have no voice, who left virtually no record. To hear more of their voices, see the bibliography in the back. I would encourage you to begin with either Henry Louis Gates’s The Classic Slave Narratives or the truly amazing collection by Kai Wright, The African American Archive.
The unthinkable truth is that there are more men and women, boys and girls enslaved in the world today than in the three centuries of African American slavery combined!
The Facts of Modern Slavery
- Human trafficking is the world’s third largest criminal enterprise, after drugs and weapons.
- Worldwide, there are nearly two million children in the commercial sex trade.
- An estimated 600,000 to 800,000 children, women and men are trafficked across international borders annually.
- Approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors.
- The total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion.
- Sex trafficking is an engine of the global AIDS epidemic.
Bonded slavery is the continual labor of an individual forced to work by mental or physical threat. Bonded slaves are owned by an employer to whom the slave or slave’s family is indebted. Bonded slaves are forced to work long hours, often seven days a week, for meager wages, if any, attempting to pay back a debt that increases at exorbitant interest rates. In reality, there is no way to repay the debt and the laborer essentially becomes a slave for life. Many bonded slaves are children who are beaten and abused if they do not fulfill the extreme expectations of the owner.
What are the facts?
- According to the United Nations Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, an estimated 20 million people were held in bonded slavery as of 1999.
- In 2004 there are more slaves than were seized from Africa during four centuries of transatlantic slave trade.
- In 1850 a slave in the Southern United States cost the equivalent of $40,000 today. According to Free the Slaves, a slave today costs an average of $90.
- Approximately two-thirds of today’s slaves are in South Asia.
- Human Rights Watch estimates that in India alone there are as many as 15 million children in bonded slavery.
How does bonded slavery happen?
When a personal or family emergency requires immediate funds the individual or family is forced to work for very little or no pay in exchange for a small loan. Because the debt increases faster than they’re paid a slave is trapped without hope of ever paying off the original debt. While IJM does not often find victims in physical chains, the intimidation of powerful oppressors is every bit as effective a means of restraint.
(Source, International Justice Mission)