~ Author Beth Bradshaw takes a look at human trafficking this holiday season ~
There is much to be thankful for in this season of jingle belling and Christmas cheering. In this time of too high gas prices and low income not meeting needs, there is still much for which we should be grateful. But there is also much to be mindful of as we focus on our families and lives.
According to Oxford Languages Dictionary, the definition of human trafficking is “the unlawful act of transporting or coercing people in order to benefit from their work or service.” The Department of Homeland Security says it is “modern-day slavery.” You’ve seen the headlines and watched the news clips. So the names Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein in this conversation probably mean at least a little something to you. However, there is so much more to this story than those names.
Beyond the scandals and headlines, there is a murky truth lingering many do not focus on enough to allow anger to arise. As a result, names and history can move unchecked or unknown in our midst. If we don’t know, surely we aren’t accountable, right?
In Luke 10:25-37, we find Jesus in a conversation with “an expert in the law.” Like most of us, he was looking for explanations to big questions. Jesus turns it back on him, asking how he interprets the scripture and then complements the guy’s answer. Not satisfied with Jesus’ approval, the expert pushes, “And who is my neighbor?”
To answer, Jesus begins to tell a story of a man injured by others and left for dead. Next, he presents actions by several men and then returns the question, “Who was the neighbor?” Finally, in verse 37, the expert once more answers with wisdom, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
If we don’t know, we can’t do likewise. If we don’t look and seek to understand, we can’t find ways to be merciful. If we don’t shine a light on the murky places, we can not see who our neighbor is to offer mercy. Some places to start would be reading books likeThe Franklin Cover-up: Child Abuse, Satanism, and Murder in Nebraska or Free Cyntoia. There are also great podcasts like Crime Junkie’s June 3 and 10, 2019, coverage of North Fox Island and the Oakland County Child Killer or Le Monstre’s coverage of the Dutroux Affair. Or take some time to volunteer at a local homeless shelter or youth runaway prevention program.
With all there is to be thankful for today, reach out to some neighbors and give them a reason to be grateful for you.
Beth Bradshaw is a former staff writer for Christian Activities and the author of Montana Grace, a novel about human trafficking.