Necessary Fanaticism

colson2 This March marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the British Parliament’s abolition of the slave trade—the culmination of a twenty-year struggle by William Wilberforce and his fellow abolitionists, a story brilliantly captured in the new Hollywood release coming next month titled Amazing Grace. Wilberforce would be appalled to learn that, two hundred years later, however, people are still trafficking in human flesh. An estimated 27 million people in the world today are in slavery. They are sold into sexual slavery or forced labor from sub-Saharan Africa to suburban America, from big-city brothels to small-town sweatshops. Every day, men, women, and children looking for work and a better life are tricked, coerced, or forced into slavery. If this is news to you, don’t be surprised. This is a silent horror. No one is paying any attention. Thankfully, some are. Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission and winner of our Wilberforce Award, is one I’ll tell you about next week. And Ambassador John Miller, appointed by President Bush as director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, is another. He has championed the cause of victims of human trafficking all around the world. Miller’s message has been simple: The selling of persons into sexual slavery or forced labor is inhuman and intolerable. His efforts have been assisted by the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor. Recently, Ambassador Miller announced his departure from the State Department to join the faculty of George Washington University. We all owe him a debt of thanks for his service, and now it’s up to us to continue that struggle. By some estimates, the number of people moving across borders to find work has doubled every year for the last five years. In this stream of migration stands the human trafficker, ready to deceive unwitting victims. These traffickers must be brought to justice here at home and around the world. Traffickers must be held accountable. Christians need to press government for the one thing that puts the traffickers out of business: investigations and prosecutions that cripple their criminal networks and bring them to justice. We also need to pressure our leaders to make the abolition of human trafficking a priority. Governments, unlike their citizens, are already aware of the problems. What’s needed is to build the enforcement capacity, especially in places where traffickers operate without fear of prosecution. This means on-the-ground law enforcement assistance and training for countries that, having recognized the problem, are ready to prosecute. The Bush administration has a great resource in the success that the Department of Justice has already had. And the president is deeply interested in this. I know, because I’ve discussed it with him personally—and we thank him for his support. If this is going to become a priority, however, Christians have to make it one. William Wilberforce once said, “If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.” Only this kind of good “fanaticism” can bring today’s version of the slave trade to an end.  
Today's BreakPoint Offer
See BreakPoint’s Fact Sheet on the Problem of Sexual Trafficking for ideas on how you can make a difference.
For Further Reading and Information
Learn more about the Amazing Change Campaign, inspired by the upcoming film about William Wilberforce, Amazing Grace, and sign the petition to help end modern-day slavery. Ric Kahn, “Bound for Misery,” Boston Globe, 7 January 2007. Shehar Bano Khan, “Sex for Shelter,” Kenya London News, 11 January 2007. Nicholas Kristof, “Using Books to Combat the Sex Trade,” Star-News (NC), 28 December 2006. Janice Shaw Crouse, “Modern-Day Abolitionists,”, 21 December 2006. Matthew Chayes, “Protestors Push for Stronger Anti-Trafficking Laws,” New York Sun, 12 January 2007. “Another Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking a Juvenile Girl,” PRNewswire, 12 January 2007. “Woman Pleads Guilty to Charges in Sex Trafficking,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5 January 2007. Dan Joling, “Anchorage Man Charged with Sex Trafficking, Drug Counts,” San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 December 2006. “Condoleezza Rice Salute to the Abolitionists,” U.S. State Department press release, 21 December 2006. Jane Morse, “Author Describes for U.S. Youth the Horrors of Trafficking,” USINFO, 18 December 2006. Jane Morse, “Top U.S. Official Cites Progress in Human Trafficking Battle,” USINFO, 13 December 2006. “The Link between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking,” U.S. Department of State, 24 November 2004. See the PBS Frontline production, “Sex Slaves.” Visit the websites for International Justice Mission, the Protection ProjectShared Hope, and ECPAT-USA to learn about the work they do to combat human trafficking. Visit Human Trafficking’s website for regular news on the issue. BreakPoint Commentary No. 060220, “Reason to Rejoice: Three Strikes against Human Trafficking.” Kevin Belmonte, Hero for Humanity (NavPress, 2002). An updated version is available in February 2007.


Chuck Colson


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