When those who are rescued from various forms of slavery around the world, it’s hard to believe they would ever want to go back to that life. Ever. Yet, one of the ministries I highly respect (www.ijm.org) has a program specifically for aftercare. They are not the only ministry that does this. Many of the people in bondage come from vulnerable populations where they do not know of their worth or their rights. They have come to believe that they either deserve to be enslaved, or that there is no better way for them.
In a recent sermon at church, one of our pastors, Bill Briley, told us that one ministry has their rescued “slaves” repeat some pretty obvious statements. All of these statements begin with something to the effect, “It is wise to….”, and end with such things like…”give my children an education,” or “find a job that will provide income for my family.” After learning what is wise, the last statement they recite is this:
“By practicing wisdom, I will NOT reenter bondage. I will remain free.”
The statments seem so obvious to me. An American woman who has skills to find a job. Who will provide her children an education. Who will not run back to the bondage. Or will I?
Every day, I face certain challenges. And every day I have the opportunity to practice wisdom or run into bondage. The bondage can take many forms. But all of bondage starts with a lie. A very good lie, I might add. A lie that seems like a good idea. A lie that seems like it will make everything all better. A lie that is no different than the first lie that evil, ugly serpent told Eve in that beautiful garden so long ago. And there’s me, just like Eve, saying to that little slithering lie, “You are right! I deserve to have this (fill-in-the-blank) because I have (fill-in-the-blank).” And so it goes. I take a bite out of the forbidden fruit, to continue this way overused metaphor, and next thing I know I am either a.) ashamed; b.) embarrassed; c.) depressed; d.) all of the above; because whatever it is that I have fled to is not meant for me.
It seems so silly that I am comparing my life to that of women, men and children who are victims of human trafficking and other atrocities. I am not, in any way, shape or form, making light of what these people deal with. I am simply saying that while my pride would say, “Duh!” regarding the statements those rescued must recite, I, too, must start my day in truth, seeking wisdom so the enemy can’t twist the truth. I want to keep these statements simple enough that I can remember that I do not need to be enslaved any longer to feel important or to get my needs met or to… whatever other reason I may reenter bondage.
This is harder for me than I would like to admit, but by the grace of God, I get through these twisted thoughts and lies one day at a time.
There’s a verse in a song that we sang that day I heard this sermon. The lyrics say, “I can see the light that is coming for a heart that holds on.” My hope is that those who enter freedom after such bondage (whether in India or in my own life), will remember that although being enslaved may feel comfortable at first, it is not real. It is not the real life God has for us. It is darkness shrouding us from the truth of the beauty God has for our lives. And the freedom can only happen when the light starts to come over us and lift the shroud.
So my heart holds on and on… and sometimes on and on and on.