Archive for July, 2008

Gary Haugen, human rights attorney and President of the International Justice Mission, had these words to say about the life and impact of William Wilberforce:

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Western Christians were more excited about what God did through William Wilberforce to fight slavery in 1807 than about what God wants to do through us to fight slavery in 2007?

The question would seem absurd if not for the fact that there are more slaves in the world today than were extracted from Africa during 400 years of the transatlantic slave trade. More than 25 million human beings are slaves in 2007. They are not slaves in a metaphorical sense. They are held in forced servitude by other human beings. The statistics may seem incomprehensible, but my colleagues and I have known thousands of them by name.

Indeed, it takes far less time for an American in 2007 to hop on a jet airplane and see where slaves are held on the other side of the world than it would have taken Wilberforce to visit a slave in the British Empire of 1807 (which he was never able to do).

When Wilberforce sought to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807, about 50,000 new slaves a year were being boarded onto British ships. While that was a nightmarishly large number for its day, there are far more children sold into sex slavery every year in the 21st century—to say nothing of the millions of adults held in other forms of slavery in the mines, rock quarries, brick factories, plantations, and rice mills of our world.

What a tragedy it would be if amidst all the movies and memorials celebrating the life of Wilberforce in 2007, Christians missed out on the chance to actually be Wilberforce in 2007—to be used of God to set slaves free, to bring an end to slavery in this generation, and to bring honor to the mission of Christ in the world. William Wilberforce and a vibrant movement of middle-class Christian abolitionists didn’t miss their opportunity in 1807. So what will it take for us not to miss our opportunity in 2007?

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