As I write this, I’m aware that this coming Sunday (26 March) is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Such awareness days can be sobering reminders of the issues facing our world. So, as well as bringing you the news, views, resolutions and next steps for the LCANZ after the recent General Synod, in this edition we’re putting a spotlight on slavery.

Slavery is an evil we’d like to think has been consigned to history. But tragically, that’s not the reality – even in the 21st century. The latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery states that in 2021 almost 50 million people were living in modern slavery.

Modern-day slavery is less public than ancient iterations – we don’t see people nowadays in chains working on roads or in fields or building pyramids.

Children sold into prostitution or early marriage or forced to work in hard labour conditions are among today’s enslaved people. They may work in overseas ‘sweatshops’ manufacturing the cheap clothing we love to buy, or as bonded agricultural labourers on cocoa farms or tea plantations which produce our favourite beverages or chocolate. If we can afford to, are we prepared to pay extra to ensure the goods we buy are without slavery in their supply chain?

We’d like to think this couldn’t happen in Australia and New Zealand but, according to the Global Slavery Index, 15,000 people are living in ‘illegal conditions of modern slavery’ in Australia, with a further 3,000 in New Zealand.

In 2015, the LCA joined 14 other Australian religious organisations and communities in signing a joint declaration against modern slavery and called on the government to enact the Modern Slavery Bill. The church’s submission said in part, ‘Godly conduct rules out exploiting and humiliating others … Jesus … urged us all to see

God’s own suffering in the face of those in need, and to respond to them with kindness and generosity. He might well say to us today, “Where were you when I appeared to you in the form of a victim of modern slavery?”’

As Christians, we know that we, too, have been slaves in the spiritual sense – slaves to sin. We know that, through his death and resurrection on that first Easter, Jesus redeemed us, freeing us from our slavery. As free people, he calls on us to share his love with those who are still enslaved – whether physically, spiritually, or both.

I pray that this Easter we will rejoice in ‘living as free people’ (1 Peter 2:16) while doing what we can to ensure justice for the oppressed (Micah 6:8, Isaiah 58:6).


PS – Due to our coverage of General Synod, some of our regular features are missing from this edition. They will return next time. Thank you for your understanding.

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