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If you are my friend on Facebook or you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen the red X I drew on my hand (actually both hands) and the following photo I took of myself looking very serious.

I want to take just a few minutes to share why I did it.

For the last couple of years I have been vaguely aware of human trafficking. You may have heard of it as well. Basically it’s an industry. An illegal industry, to be certain, but an industry nonetheless. In a nutshell, human trafficking forces fellow human beings to be used for sex or labor by another human being. They are not free to leave. If they try, they will be hurt or worse.

In the last couple of weeks I have been gradually learning more about human trafficking, as I felt this was an issue God was leading me to investigate. What I discovered was both shocking and sobering. For example, this figure: 27 million. That’s a rough estimate of how many people are enslaved all over the world. Can you imagine?! In our modern era, when many of us believe that slavery is a thing of the past, it in fact is thriving more than any other point of time in history.

Now, when I first heard about this, I thought, “Well, that sucks. But I’m sure it’s only happening abroad.”

Think again.

The latest estimate states that approximately 60,000 human beings are enslaved right here in the United States. Now, that number may not seem quite so enormous in comparison to 27 million. But in a nation that prides ourselves in being “the land of the free,” I’d call this outrageous.

In addition to the shockingly large amount of slavery happening right here in our country, there’s the fact that our legal industries happen to feed into slavery around the world. In many nations that produce goods that you and I partake of regularly and think nothing of — goods such as chocolate, cotton, carpeting, and fuel — these goods are produced or harvested through slave labor.

Where did I get this information? A lot of it can be found in this article http://www.relevantmagazine.com/reject-apathy/modern-day-slavery-by-numbers as well as the links found within.

I took a “quiz” of sorts through the preceding article, at the link called “an honest look.” The quiz helped me to see my “slavery footprint” — in other words, the number of slaves that worked to make some of the goods that my family and I used. I was horrified to realize that as many as 46 slaves (and possibly more!) may have worked, or even continue to work, for me.

At the end of the quiz, I was invited to send e-mails to the companies that sell the products that may have been at least partially produced through slave labor, to urge them to do more to investigate the suppliers of their raw materials and products and work towards ending any dependence on slave labor. I didn’t hesitate to do so (as I’m sure you wouldn’t have, either).

I’m in the process of learning more. It’s hard because I’m not the kind of person who enjoys reading about the misery of others, and it’s hard to imagine a more miserable existence than the life of a slave. But it’s time to bear witness, it’s time to stand up, and it’s time to say “This is NOT okay, and I want to do something about it.”

That’s what I’m trying to do.

And I hope you will, too.


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