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Summary: Christians are obligated by God's character to free those enmeshed in slavery. Among the enslaved in North America are those participating in the scourge of pornography and prostitution, which Christians must avoid and resist.

“During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” [1]

Surely slavery can’t be a problem in our modern society, can it? Or is it possible that we have shut our eyes to the despair of our world? Something within the heart of fallen people wants to exert power over vulnerable people. Consequently, people are enslaved with alarming regularity.

Were you aware that slavery is still practised in at least fifteen nations around the world? [2] It should be no surprise to anyone living outside of the hermit kingdom that North Korea still enslaves people. Though the North Korean government doesn’t necessarily identify the forced servitude of those who are ensnared in their system as slavery, over one million North Koreans are nevertheless enslaved. These doleful souls are forced to provide free labour for the corrupt government.

Some may find it surprising to discover that India is estimated to have over eighteen million people enslaved. Often, entire families are enslaved, having been tricked into illegal debt and compelled to repay exorbitant fees to free themselves from the debt. Many of these “slaves” are forced overseas to work for a pittance in order to repay family debts.

Uzbekistan compels forced labour, a form of slavery, for over one million people. China forces over three million people to beg, sells children illegally or forces sexual slavery. Over one million Russian men, women and children are enslaved. Enslaved Russians are sold to countries such as South Korea, China, and Oman. Many of those sold as slaves are women sold into sexual slavery.

Among the other nations that enslave segments of the population are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Sudan, the Dominican Republic, Yemen, Iraq, and Indonesia. In these nations, children are often sold as slaves to labour in mines and on plantations. These child slaves provide cheap labour to mine the riches required by the wealthy nations of the world—gold and precious stones. In other instances child labourers paid a pittance harvest crops that are used to manufacture food items prized in the west—chocolate, cola nuts, sugar, and other such food stuffs. In other instances, children work as virtual slaves producing products that will be sold cheaply in western markets. Though it may make us uncomfortable, it is nevertheless true that in many instances, child labour—labour that is almost indistinguishable from slavery produces goods that we claim to need—recreational equipment and clothing, shoes and even some electronic equipment. If we can’t see it, then it is of no concern to us—or is it? Perhaps we should be asking questions about the goods we purchase. Perhaps we should be demanding an accounting from those marketing the goods we buy.

Be aware of a dark secret hidden from view of North American consumers. Many companies, especially companies that promote themselves as “woke,” are built on slave labour. Adidas AG, Hennes & Mauritz AB, Kraft Heinz Co., Coca-Cola Co., and Gap Inc. are among companies at the end of a long, often opaque supply chain that travels through China’s northwest region of Xinjiang. Residents there are routinely forced into training programs that feed workers to area factories. [3] Nike, Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung are among eighty-three multinationals that have been linked to forced labour by Uighurs in factories across China. According to researchers with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, more than eighty thousand Uighurs were transferred to work in Chinese factories between 2017 and 2019. [4] Other companies utilizing this slave labour include Tommy Hilfiger, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, General Motors, Google, and Huawei. [5]

It is perhaps somewhat surprising for some who listen today to learn that slavery is still somewhat common in the Philippines, in Guatemala and in Nigeria. In fact, data indicates there are more slaves in the world now than at any time in human history. [6] We cannot make the problem of slavery disappear by ignoring the reality of what is occurring in our world. Unlike Cain, we dare not say to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Slavery in North America, in one form or another appears with distressing regularity in news reports. Sometimes the slavery consists of forced labour of immigrants. While there is no state sanctioned slavery anywhere in North America, we nevertheless read about people who are reduced to slavery. What else could we call people who are brought into our nation and compelled to work as indentured servants until they have repaid their master? What else could we call it when people are not allowed to leave the home of those who sponsored them because their passports have been seized and because they are unfamiliar with our laws they are terrified of being discovered by the police? Trapped by fear and held in thralldom because an unscrupulous individual has seized their passport, these poor souls become slaves.

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