Focusing on human trafficking ... and the one who brings freedom.

This week's devotional is from Pastor Art Greco.

This week's devotion takes a temporary turn from our regular structure to read about a successful operation by International Justice Mission and remind us of why we occasionally invite an IJM representative to preach at MCC. It's a "good news" story in a "bad news" context.  Please allow it to form your heart as it reminds of the critical importance of a faithful, activist church.

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RAJASTHAN STATE, INDIA,

April 19, 2016

Last week, IJM staff supported local authorities and partners in a rescue operation to free 24 people from forced labor slavery at a brick kiln, including 11 children.

It marked the first joint operation between IJM and our new partner organization, Jai Bhim Vikas Shikshan Sansthan, and our first rescue in Rajasthan—India’s largest state.

Jai Bhim approached IJM with the case earlier this year after discovering four families living in fear at a local brick kiln, after years of verbal abuse and violent threats.

The kiln owner had forced these children, women and men to live in shabby mud-walled houses with poor sanitation, and he forbade the children from going to school. Each week, he gave the families just a small amount of money to buy meager food supplies in a nearby market—barely enough for them to survive.

Today, they are free of his ongoing abuse and the years of forced labor.

On the day of rescue, local officials and IJM staff provided the families with a warm meal as they gave their statements and received official release certificates to mark their freedom. Over the next few weeks, authorities will continue to investigate this kiln owner and work with Jai Bhim staff in local courts to hold him accountable for his alleged crimes.

Officials brought the families safely back to their home village and will help them access ration cards, rehabilitation funds and other government benefits arranged for rescued slaves. Jai Bhim will provide them ongoing aftercare as they adjust to life outside the kiln.

The rescue operation received coverage in local television and newspapers, and the Chief Minister of the state reportedly congratulated officials who helped free these families and called for strict action against the kiln owners. It was a thrilling start to a deeper partnership beginning between Rajasthan’s anti-trafficking authorities, IJM and our local partners.

Ajoy Varghese, IJM’s director in Delhi, says, “This rescue—led by the government and supported by Anti-Human Trafficking Unit officials—is a classic example of how a functioning public justice system makes all the difference in ending everyday violence against the poor.”

***

This story illustrates what early 5th century historian, Thucydides observed, “... the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." Or, put as Professor David Nystrom presented it last weekend during a lecture at MCC, "The powerful do whatever the heck they want to do and the weak just have to sit and take it!"

Today, Marin Covenant, be reminded that what Thucydides (and later, Nystrom) observed about war is still too often true in the darkest corners of commerce - that this is not "OK" with God - and if it's not "OK" with God, it's not "OK" with us.

End this devotion by reading andreflecting on Micah 6:1-8.

Now pray for an awareness of the poverty of your own heart and faith.

Then ask God to direct you as you consider the oppression that still exists in the world and pray for the strengthening of the Church to respond in the name of Jesus.