Sent To Proclaim Freedom

Wednesday, 13 May 2020 Sent To Proclaim Freedom In a Zimbabwean village, a white van periodically paroles the community. The worn-out van has discoloured tyres because of all the times it has made its way down dusty roads. Life in a remote village can be hard with the threat of malnutrition and disease, but this van poses another deadly yet unspoken threat. This van snatches vulnerable people off the streets for organ trafficking. While many in the community are aware of what the van is doing, they feel ill-equipped to know how to respond to such an issue. The villagers find the bodies later and pray that the van never comes near one of their own family members...

Sadly, human trafficking is happening all around us, everywhere. Around the world, more than 40 million people are currently in slavery 1. In many places in the world, locals are confronted with the reality of trafficking daily, but they don’t know what to do about it or where to go for help. As Christ‘s followers, we have a biblical mandate to respond. This is a key expression of loving our neighbour and caring for the vulnerable.
 1 International Labour Organization, 2017


Types of Trafficking
  • Sex trafficking
  • Forced labour
  • Forced marriage
  • Forced criminality
  • Child soldiers
  • Organ harvesting
  • Debt bondage
For Freedom is a new international initiative of SIM, focusing on the prevention of human trafficking and the protection of those most at risk. SIM is in more than 70 countries with more than 4,000 workers. As our workers seek to share the Gospel, For Freedom will equip them to care for people at risk of exploitation in cities, communities and villages around the world.

Karine Woldhuis, the For Freedom co-lead, shared, “When the Bible talks about caring for the widows, the orphans, the alien, the poor, they’re the very groups today that are most targeted by traffickers. So, if we are going to hear God’s voice for caring for these people in particular, we need to know about trafficking and how to respond well to fulfil God’s command in that respect.” Ultimately, the heart of For Freedom is to see vulnerable people become connected to local churches and come to know Christ.

What does For Freedom do?
  • Provides anti-trafficking training and support to SIM workers and partner ministries around the world
  • Empowers the local church to engage in disciple making with people at risk of trafficking, and to respond with compassion to those who have experienced the trauma of exploitation
  • Actively partners with other organisations responding to trafficking to multiply our efforts
  • Provides prevention training and resources for ministries supporting vulnerable people at risk of trafficking, including migrant and refugee ministries, women and children ministries, and integrated health ministries
The Outworking of For Freedom
For Freedom was recently contacted by a mission worker, Esther*, in Namibia, who was saddened by the disappearance of kids from her village. 

Although Esther was witnessing trafficking that was localised and specific, at the same time, it followed the same mechanics that is seen in trafficking around the world.

Sarah Scott-Webb, For Freedom’s other co-lead, said, “There are a lot of people on the front lines who are immersed in the reality of trafficking. Human trafficking is taking the kids they are working with, but they don’t know what to do about it. They don’t know how it’s working; they just know it’s there. The mechanics of trafficking are exactly the same in Namibia, Australia, Italy and Thailand – and all around the world. We can bring knowledge [about trafficking] to people for them to take and contextualise.”

After Esther contacted Sarah and Karine, they were able to provide her with tools for understanding trafficking. They equipped her and mentored her through setting up an effective anti-trafficking approach.

Karine explained, “God put this lady in our path so that instead of potentially just doing a sporadic shotgun approach, we were able to help her build a really robust response. We were able to assist her locally but from For Freedom’s global perspective.”

For Freedom was able to equip Esther to respond to trafficking effectively. She’s started going into schools, has launched community awareness walks and is putting together an anti-trafficking network.

Esther’s story is just one of the many ways For Freedom is equipping mission workers on the frontline. Sarah and Karine have been developing anti-trafficking lessons for schools, training project leaders and writing a Protection and Prevention manual for workers, among many other things. Please pray for wisdom and protection for Karine and Sarah as they continue to coordinate the prevention of human trafficking across SIM’s diverse ministries and contexts across the world.

*Name changed to protect identity    
Would you or your church like to partner with For Freedom?
The description of the ministry is based on normal activities without social distancing and lockdown measures implemented in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
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