I don’t remember when I first learned about human trafficking. I think I was in high school. I didn’t even know what fair trade was until college. Modern day slavery was not in my vocabulary. And I remember, upon first learning about all these injustices that exist in my lifetime, in my own backyard, I wondered to myself — why didn’t I know about this before?
In my mind, injustice often existed elsewhere. Happening in another city. Plaguing another country. Hurting people I didn’t know. But then I moved from a tiny little beach town to a bustling city, and was confronted by a homeless person on every street corner. And then I learned that the movie theater down the street from my college dorm was a hubspot of human trafficking. Human trafficking had existed in my mind as something that happened in Thailand or Cambodia.
The more I learned, the more I researched, the more overwhelmed I became. The mind blowing statistics about poverty and homelessness and sex slavend so many other issues that, as I Christian, I am commanded not to ignore. I attended events and watched documentaries, hoping to educate myself and learn about my role. In a burst of zeal, I stopped buying chocolate and coffee that wasn’t fair trade, lingering over banana labels in the grocery store. I started a blog about injustice.
But slowly, fair trade started feeling too expensive for a college student budget, and I began to feel the gap between my small actions and the ending of worldwide oppression. The more I learned, the more discouraged I became. How on earth was I supposed to buy clothes anywhere ever that were ethically made and didn’t cost $300 for a tank top? My enthusiasm gave way to frustration and I felt powerless. Change was impossible.
Then I realized that yes–change, the way I was understanding it, WAS impossible. It WAS impossible for me to single handedly take down child slavery. It WAS impossible for me to provide every homeless person I met on the street with a place to live. It WAS impossible for me to tackle the food gap. But that was because I had been thinking about everything on a macro scale.
I stepped back and assessed my resources. I thought about how Jesus lived. Addressing the needs of the person right in front of him. Stopping for the one. I realized that I may not be able to eradicate homelessness, but what I was able to give was a free evening once a week and a love for kids. So I signed up to hang out with homeless children through an amazing organization called Horizons for Homeless Children. I found another organization that fights human trafficking all over the world and started giving a few dollars every month.
The more I read the Bible, the more I realized that I am not held accountable for what I cannot do, but rather what I didn’t do when I had the means to do it.
The Parable of the Talents
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[ a ] and entrusted to them his property. 1 5 To one he gave five talents,[ b ] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 1 6 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 1 7 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 1 8 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 1 9 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 2 0 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 2 1 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[ c ] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 2 2 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 2 3 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 2 4 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 2 5 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground…’ 2 6 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant!… 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest…”
I’m really looking forward to learning how to best make use of the “talents” of time and money. I hope you’ll join me and BFJN as we discover how!