Anne Marie Carrie, Barnardo's new chief executive, told the BBC the problem was far more prevalent than it had previously thought and the 1,000 or so victims identified were "the tip of the iceberg". She also said the average age of those abused had fallen from 15 to 13 in recent years. "Children are being passed from man to man, home to home, city to city," she said. "It's the domestic trafficking of children for money. The children are as young as 10. These children are being used, abused and thrown away by organised gangs of men."
So what are we going to do? To be honest I don't know, or at least I haven't got a ten point or five year action plan of how Kerith is going to engage in this particular area of justice. What I do know is that God seems to have a consistent way of leading us in these situations, as He does in so much of life. It's how He's lead us with CAP, Foodbank, Serenje, Friday night youth and many other areas of church life, and how He's lead me in much of my personal life too.
First of all He shows us the big picture, the broad brush strokes of what He wants us to aim for. In this case it's the eradication of human trafficking in the UK. That might seem a huge dream, and we're certainly only going to be a small part of seeing that dream come to reality, but God calls the church to dream big dreams, and take on apparently unbeatable giants.
Secondly God shows us the next step. We'd like to see the next ten or twenty steps, in fact all the steps which will take us to achieving the dream, but He often only shows us the next one. In this case I think there are a number of next steps:
- Go the Hope for Justice website and increase your knowledge of the issues surrounding human trafficking.
- We must pray. Come to the prayer meetings this week and join us in praying for this and many other issues, as well as praying on your own and in Lifegroups.
- Some of us will individually want to financially support the work of Hope for Justice - you can do that here.
- Some may want to start an Act For Justice group in Kerith. A number of people have already spoken to me about this, and I think it would be a great thing to do. Someone will need to lead it (not me, but someone chosen by the leadership). If you'd be interested in being part of a group like this then send an email here expressing your interest and we'll gather a list of names.
- As a church community we're going to host a Hope for Justice event on the evening of Saturday July 16th. We'll publish more details on this over the next couple of months.
Finally let's remember that this is only one expression of God's heart for justice in our community. Let's not forget all the things that we're already doing, and be willing to get practically involved with those too. In particular over the next month we're going to be really encouraging people to get involved in befriending CAP clients - a simple but powerful way to be a force for justice.
Hope to see you on Wednesday or Thursday at the prayer meetings,