When I was a kid, my favorite pastime was roller blading to the library. I know…I was cool. My parents let me go alone and I had awesome stickers on my helmet. But while there, I would pour over the story of Moses, how Harriet Tubman set slaves free, and the history of the Holocaust. I’d go to sleep all fired up about how something so horrible could’ve existed. How did people let these tragedies just happen? I’d convince myself that I would’ve been part of the Underground Railroad, or an accomplice to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But imagination does not have to run far now; all we have to ask ourselves is what can we do now? This is our modern day Holocaust, and we’re living in our world now with more slaves than Harriet Tubman ever sought to set free- twenty-seven million.
It’s an incredibly hard number to grasp, and even more difficult to comprehend it representing men, women, and children who are slaves in this day. The word “slavery” even seems antiquated, as if we should be talking about the transatlantic slave trade and not a modern day tragedy. The numbers are too staggering, the language isn’t relatable and so it’s easy to sweep it into the back corner of our minds. It’s there, and we know it’s real, but even still it is too huge to hold onto. So what is there to do?
“One step at a time. One dollar at a time. One life at a time.”
It’s the line that A21 founder Christine Caine uses to break down the numbers and vastness of modern day slavery and something we had the chance to experience during the Walk for Freedom; we had the honor of writing to survivors of human trafficking and also to walk alongside survivors who had joined us this day. They put a face to the twenty-seven million and suddenly, that number did not seem so big after all.
Walking in New Bedford, a place that is historically known as a main stop in the Underground Railroad, was a first step in renewing that freedom fighting history as we stood in the gap for our city and became freedom fighters ourselves. Aside from human trafficking being incomprehensible on a natural level, we also have to look at it from the spiritual as well. God has set us free in the natural and in the spiritual. And so here we are, in this time and space as freed people of God to go and free others in both realms. God’s heart is for the captive and has been since the beginning. From the Hebrew slaves to the modern day slaves, God sees and hears their cries and is inviting us in to participate in His big story of freedom.