Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sorry about the lack of posts!

I haven't been posting much here, but that doesn't mean the Carolina Clapham Circle is not still fighting human trafficking! We're still meeting the second Thursday of each month, and our members are doing great things. As a group, we are moving toward making our main goal the education of the public about the issue of human trafficking. Several of us also have gotten in touch with legislators about the problem, encouraging them to support stronger and more comprehensive laws to fight trafficking and restore those who are rescued. We also are becoming more networked with other people and groups, and as opportunities present themselves we may throw our weight behind various projects.

I hope to start posting more frequently again soon, but we'll have to see how that goes. In the meantime, if you want to keep up with the latest news of the Carolina Clapham Circle, and especially if you live close enough to join us, sign up on the form to the left, and I'll add you to the e-mail list.

Monday, February 18, 2008

12 Characteristics

I returned from a youth retreat yesterday to find that my wife had bought me the book “William Wilberforce: Greatest Works,” edited by Lloyd B. Hildebrand and published by Bridge-Logos.

In a chapter on the Clapham Group, Hildebrand notes a dozen characteristics of this group that accomplished so much in the abolition of legalized slavery in the 1800s:

They set clear and specific goals

They researched carefully to produce reliable and irrefutable evidence

They built a committed support community. The battle could not be carried on alone

They refused to accept setbacks as final defeats

They committed to the struggle for the long haul, even if it took decades

They focused on issues, not allowing opponents’ vicious attacks on their person to distract them or provoke them into similar response

They empathized with opponents’ position so that meaningful interaction could take place

They accepted incremental gains when everything could not be achieved at once

They cultivated grassroots support when rebuffed by those in power

They transcended single-issue mentality by addressing issues as part of [the] overall moral climate

They worked through recognized channels without resort[ing] to dirty tactics or violence

They proceeded with a sense of mission and conviction that God would providentially guide if they were truly acting in His service.

I don’t know if they had the wisdom to incorporate these characteristics right
from the start, or if the characteristics came from lessons learned in the public square, or if the group simply stumbled upon them as they went, but they certainly are the kinds of characteristics that can help win the day. May our group, and all modern-day abolitionists, develop these characteristics as we fight this battle.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

On the Frontline

Most people who only know me a little bit—and maybe even some of my closer friends—might be surprised to learn that I really like hard rock music. Hard rock that glorifies Jesus, that is.

There’s something about distorted guitars and basses that I really enjoy. But more than that, when someone is screaming lyrics at the top of his lungs, it makes me think, “Hey, this guy really means this.” And when those lyrics glorify and honor God, that’s pretty cool.

Recently I’ve come across a group called Pillar. They’ve been around for years, but I had never really noticed them before. I’ve purchased a few of their songs and one video from iTunes, and I like what I’m hearing. One song, “Frontline,” seems to apply not only to Christians in general but also to those of us who want to make a difference in the fight against human trafficking. The chorus says:

Everybody, with your fists raised high
Let me hear your battle cry tonight
Stand beside, or step aside
We’re on the frontline

You should hear lead singer Rob Beckley screaming those lyrics—it’s inspiring. Well, I suppose if hard rock turns you off, you may not find it so inspiring. But I know that the members of the Carolina Clapham Circle feel that, if we’re not on the frontline already, that’s where we want to be. We’ve felt a call from God that makes us believe that’s where He wants us, too, and I pray that we’ll be obedient and ready for the fight. Let me hear your battle cry!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Human Suffering in the Heart of God

At Amsterdam ’83 (officially called the International Congress for Itinerant Evangelists), Ravi Zacharias said:

There is one place in the world where there is an aggregate, an accumulation, of human suffering—that is, in the heart of God. God then takes some of those heartaches and funnels them down into the hearts of His servants so that they might sense His burden and proclaim His message. This holy anxiety is an indispensable prerequisite to significant communication.

I think this holy anxiety is also a prerequisite to significant action, and when I look at my friends in the Carolina Clapham Circle and at other Christ-followers who are fighting human trafficking, I think we’ve experienced exactly what Zacharias was talking about. God has given us a glimpse of the suffering of slaves, and this compels us not only to proclaim a message of freedom but to work for it as well.

I also like what Zacharias said about God’s funneling some of humanity’s heartaches into our hearts. If we try to look at all the world’s suffering, our concern remains intellectual—it doesn’t become a burden. Sara Groves has a song on her cd “Tell Me What You Know” that says “At two you’re at abstraction.” I think she means that when we see one person’s suffering, it hits us a lot harder than when we see masses and statistics.

So God often gives us a picture of one person—maybe a girl in a Cambodian brothel (see the award-winning video at Love146) or a man who was enslaved in Brazil’s charcoal industry (see excerpts from the “Bound by Promises” video). The image stays with us, and we can’t stand the thought of that individual being enslaved.

I hope God will give you this kind of burden and that you will join the fight to eradicate slavery and restore its victims.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Leader in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Today’s Christian Woman has published an interview with Laura Lederer, Senior Director for Global Projects on Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State.

Lederer talks about the case that drew her to this cause as well as her own faith journey. Along the way, the article gives some basic facts about human trafficking in general and about sex trafficking in particular. And near the end of the article, Lederer makes a couple of interesting points. First, she talks about the role of the church:

“I’m convinced faith-based communities all around the world are the only ones qualified to provide long-term care for trafficking survivors. It’s the area of biggest need concerning sex trafficking, and I think it’s a perfect area for the church to take leadership.”

Second, she talks about the Christians who are involved in the fight against human trafficking, and her words remind me of my fellow Carolina Clapham Circle members:

“I’m hopeful because so many good people are beginning to work on this issue. We’re building a critical mass; it’s a new human-rights movement. And it’s filled with Christians and others who understand we have to be shoulder-to-shoulder to fight an epic battle with these new contemporary forms of slavery.”

I’m hopeful, too, when I see the caliber of people who are fighting against human trafficking. But most of all, I’m hopeful because I know God hates oppression and is powerful to save, and if He is calling us to fight this battle, He will equip us for what we need to do.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Great meeting, new opportunities

The January 10 meeting of the Carolina Clapham Circle was inspiring. We had a good-sized group, including three new friends, all of whom are already actively fighting modern-day slavery. Here are some examples of what various members have been doing recently:

• Making contacts in India
• Working on construction of safehouses
• Being invited to speak at a women’s conference
• Looking for ways to network and learn about the problem on an upcoming mission trip to Cambodia
• Corresponding with legislators about strengthening state laws
• Locating a human trafficking curriculum that can be used by church groups or others
• Getting coverage of this issue into a local newspaper

Our special guest was Sandra Johnson, director of Triad Ladder of Hope, a shelter in High Point, NC. Sandra has been fighting human trafficking for several years and has worked alongside both the FBI and ICE, in addition to presenting training sessions for law enforcement and others. Sandra encouraged us to help facilitate training for law enforcement, hospitals, housing inspectors and others in our own communities. And even in just the past few days, we’re already starting to do just that! I hope we can keep Sandra and her staff booked solid with training opportunities.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness

The U.S. Congress has designated Jan. 11 as the National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness, and many of our fellow abolitionists are planning events to help raise awareness of the issue.

Some are holding press conferences. One group obtained space on buses for public service posters about human trafficking. Some groups are holding training sessions, candlelight vigils or exhibits of art created by trafficking survivors.

Let’s do all we can to raise awareness. The traffickers have been able to hide in the dark for too long; the more people learn about this issue, the more our ranks will grow as we seek to rescue and restore victims, prosecute traffickers and finally abolish slavery forever.