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Viewpoint from Anna Heydon 22/03/2019

Development Worker, Imagine Norfolk Together


as published in the Yarmouth Mercury


William Wilberforce is one of my heroes, for his tireless efforts end the horror of the slave-trade, resulting in the Bill for the Abolition of Slavery in 1833. When Wilberforce died, just days after the passing of the bill, perhaps he felt an optimism that the earth could now rid itself of the scourge of slavery forever. Yet here we are, nearly 200 years later, with more slaves in the world than ever before. There are currently at least 13,000 victims of Modern Slavery in the UK, and some of them are right here, where we live. Although I would love to have the opportunity to meet Wilberforce, I’m not sure I could look him in the eye
dove leftI’m currently co-leading a course for people from local churches about how to recognise Modern Slavery, and how we can get involved in fighting slavery and supporting victims. This has given me the opportunity to reflect on what the Bible says about slavery and freedom
Modern Slavery is at odds with the characteristics of justice and love which make up the very person of God as revealed in the Bible, and with the dignity and value that is innate in all human beings, who have been made in His image. If we take seriously the repeated Biblical commands to “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17) then it is our responsibility to not only recognise the continued presence of slavery but to do all in our power to challenge and destroy it
Dove rightIn contrast to the atrocity of Modern Slavery, God wants us to live in freedom. Although some people view Christianity as a religion of rules and restrictions, the opposite is true. The Bible tells us repeatedly that this is the reason that Jesus came to earth “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). This freedom encompasses not only freedom from human oppression and abuse, but also freedom from slavery to the wrong thoughts and actions which keep us far from God, freedom from guilt, freedom from fear. This is an offer of escape from slavery into freedom which is open to all of us. For as the Bible says “If [Jesus] sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:36)
Let’s engage in the battle against Modern Slavery wholeheartedly, but let’s not forget that our own hearts need choose freedom too

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Derek Mill (Guest) 15/04/2019 08:43
Amen! Thank you for highlighting this really important issue.