Right now, between 21 and 46 million people are trapped in slavery around the world.
There are children picking cotton for our clothes in Uzbekistan. There are men enslaved on fishing boats in Thailand, and women working as unpaid domestic servants in American homes. Every minute, boys and girls are sexually exploited online or trafficked into the sex trade. Human trafficking reaches every corner of the globe – yours included.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that we are not helpless.
Slavery and exploitation are symptoms of the much larger problem of our collective brokenness. Relationships are abusive, communities are fragmented, and values are distorted. Freedom Sunday counters all that by bringing together communities all around the world as a united, hope-filled, justice-driven movement. We start with prayer, lament, learning, dialogue, and worship, and then move into community-based action. Our goal is to mobilize churches that redeem relationships, rebuild communities, and shift harmful values to holistically transform society.
This year, Freedom Sunday teachings and offerings will focus on three main freedom projects:
Support the Set Free Movement in the Philippines. There are at least 401,000 slaves in the Philippines, the majority of whom are children. Boys and girls as young as 2 and 3 are sexually exploited online– sometimes by their families – through cyberporn, which is a billion-dollar industry in the Philippines. Our team in the Philippines is training Free Methodist pastors, mobilizing churches, and engaging youth and college campuses to be compassionate and informed responders to human trafficking.
Children from poor and rural households in Haiti are sometimes given to other family member or strangers as unpaid domestic servants. There are more than 300,000 children forced into this culturally accepted form of slavery, called “restaveks”. ICCM helps to protect children through child sponsorship and will be announcing a strategic initiative and partnership for this Freedom Sunday project.
Between 50% and 90% of trafficked children in the U.S. were in the foster care system at some point. Our team in Seattle intervenes in the foster-care-to-human-trafficking pipeline by: (1) caring for children who first enter the foster care system; (2) facilitating trainings, support groups, and appreciation events for foster parents; and (3) supporting social welfare employees. The team is also gearing up to host a conference in 2018 for girls ages 12-18 in foster care to build self-esteem, cultivate spiritual development, and connect them to strong female mentoring relationships that will continue after the event.
Over the past 6 years of Freedom Sundays, the generous offerings of Free Methodists have helped launch:
- ICCM projects protecting children in India, Thailand, the Philippines, Colombia, and Ethiopia.
- Eden’s Glory, a restoration home in Illinois that has since invested in the healing journey of 7 women, some of whom are pursuing their GEDs, entering lengthy periods of sobriety, and seeking relationships with Jesus.
- Set Free Movement work in Taiwan, Greece, and the U.S
Freedom Sunday is more than a day. It’s more than a worship service. Freedom Sunday is a movement of hope. Modern slavery is a symptom of the underlying problem of broken relationships, communities, and systems. The world is broken, but God is the healer. In partnership with God, we are agents of hope and healing.
Create a meaningful way for your church, youth group, or small group to become champions of justice. Whether you spend 5 minutes or the entire service, it’s about focusing on freedom.