The Fourth of July is stars and stripes, with color coordinated, jam filled layer cakes. Independence day fun in backyards, from sea to shining sea, with a bowl full of cherries, and a great big platter of corn bread. American food sustaining American kids as the sun dips down and fireworks ignite the sky.
But The Fourth is more than our freedom to play,
more than decorated porches.
So much more than red, white, and blue.
The fourth is a picture of salvation.
A glorious, sweeping tale of Amazing grace.
An epic story of a people redeemed and set free.
And a challenge to live free indeed.
So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
But what does freedom look like when so many are still oppressed? In other countries and our own free land as well. What does being "free indeed" mean with over 200 Nigerian school girls stolen? What does freedom look like when my water is free of parasites, and my soles are clear of chiggers, and my father didn't sell me to a brick maker for a meager debt he never could repay?
With fireworks three nights away, I am aware that the Fourth of July must be more than red, white, and blue. More than our history and our independence, it is our responsibility to live free indeed; free to fight for justice on behalf of those still bound. It must, in this age when the number of men, women, boys and girls enslaved is the highest in human history.
We think of slavery as a practice of the past, an image from Roman colonies or 18th-century American plantations, but the practice of enslaving human beings as property still exists. There are 29.8 million people living as slaves right now, according to a comprehensive new report issued by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation.
This is not some softened, by-modern-standards definition of slavery. These 30 million people are living as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers, child brides in forced marriages and, in all ways that matter, as pieces of property, chattel in the servitude of absolute ownership. (The Washington Post)
The 4th of July is more than red, white, and blue
when black, brown, and yellow are still enslaved.
But our awareness of this ugly reality is not enough;
it's the beginning, but it's not enough.
I don't want you to forego celebrating our Nation's Independence. Celebrate it to the skies, where fireworks decorate our blessed joy. But let your freedom propel you forward to live free indeed, as an advocate for those enslaved. I'm committed this holiday to not grow complacent as the days and weeks and months spread out since the last big atrocity grabbed our hearts and attention. #bringbackourgirls empowered us in May, but now here we are in July, celebrating freedom while our Nigerian sisters are being sold for $12 to husbands.
Here are 3 things I suggest we do to advocate for those held in bondage today.
1 - Fast and Pray
The purpose of fasting in Biblical times was to fight with power against spiritual darkness. What is darker in our present world than slavery? Join me each Monday as we lift up the 60,000 women held captive in the sex industry right here within our free Nation's borders. Or choose any country on any continent and pray for the poorest of the poor, where evil preys like pestilence.
2 - Join with International Justice Mission
Organizations like IJM are doing the dangerous but necessary work throughout the world, bringing detectives into hostile areas, finding slaves, and working with local governments to set them free by bringing perpetrators to justice. By partnering with International Justice Mission you learn first hand the reality of this epidemic, how to pray, and how to give. But the joy that comes from the testimonies of families set free is like the Fourth of July again and again and again... because freedom is still hard earned. And you can be a part of it!
3 - Discover your Part
Honestly, I don't know my part yet. But I know it starts with a hashtag and the signing of a petition like this one. And I know that as our hearts becomes more supple to the reality and pain of sex trafficked women, child soldiers, and mulit-generational families enslaved together, our individual freedom becomes more than red, white, and blue. What exactly it will look in your life, I can't fathom. But it will be as glorious as the unfurling of Old Glory. Red, White, and Blue.
Please tell me how you are praying, and what you are doing;
That we might inspire one another
from Living Room to Living Room;
From purple mountain majesty,
across the fruited plains