Today in the US, the nation stops to celebrate our independence.
To me, this day is about fireworks, barbecues, and various events celebrating the history and traditions of the US. Overall, today is about celebrating the freedoms we have in this country. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the freedom to vote for our political leaders, the freedom to a fair trial, and the freedom to use our VOICE!
Sadly, we rarely think about these freedoms or see them as blessings. We wouldn’t want to live any other way, and could never imagine a life without them.
Even so, lack of the most basic freedoms is unimaginably common for so many around the world.
Just think for a moment about some of the major issues of our day that go on so casually in many countries around the world: Sex trafficking, child slavery, and religious persecution. All are based on one person’s freedom being stripped away, with no chance to stand in protest.
According to UNICEF, as many as two million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade.
Sex trafficking is a reality in today’s world. Communities are run economically and culturally by this vile industry. Below is an excerpt from a letter I recently received describing a program which is investing in some of these two million children, in an effort to bring some form of hope to their lives.
India, though now an emerging economy on the global stage, has yet to cast off its centuries long plague of poverty. A large portion of its billion plus inhabitants live beneath its weight. In such conditions, children are the ones to suffer the most. They are often victims of neglect, malnutrition and abuse. In some cases, children are sold into child labor or forced prostitution.
The oppression of physical impoverishment is great, but even greater is the impoverishment of not knowing the love of God. We are seeing their lives transformed as the light of God’s love shines in.
The Living Hope Center is located in a major red-light district and cares for the children of prostitutes in that area. We have both resident children who live at the center and others who attend day programs offered six days per week. Those attending the daily programs receive a healthy meal, assistance with schoolwork, training in life skills and spiritual nurture.
Children who live in both of these projects are provided clothing, shelter, nutritious food, proper health care and a good education. Not only are their physical needs met, they are growing in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In a loving home environment, needy children who before had little hope for their future are now finding God’s provision for their lives.
These children’s realities have been broken due to the communities that they have been raised in. Who will stand for these children? Where is their freedom?
Recently, we had the privilege of hearing from Tour of Hope speaker, Rani Hong, who was stolen from her parents at a young age and forced into slavery. Here is a glimpse into her reality then and now:
Where is the freedom for the millions of other children that share Rani’s story?
Currently, more than 200 million Christians around the globe suffer imprisonment, abuse, and sometimes death because of their faith. Here is a glimpse into one of those stories:
Prior to persecution of Bikash’s father, he was working as a Kuli (physical Labourer) and his mother was a house wife. One day 20 people came to his house at the evening and abused his parents. Those people asked his parents to leave Christianity and accept Hinduism otherwise they will kill their whole family. When they denied accepting Hinduism then, his father was severely beaten by those people. One of those people asked his father to left their house otherwise they will kill them.
So, Bikash and his family left their house and moved to the mountain which was nearby to their village. Next day, they came back to their house and found that house was fully burnt and those people took all their household things.
Retold by our national partner in Northern India
I can’t even imagine being forced out of my own home because of my beliefs in Jesus Christ. Where is Bikash’s freedom? Or the freedom for the 200 Christians arrested this year alone in Iran?
These stories might feel as if they are without hope, and my goal today is not to guilt you into feeling sorry for any of them, but rather realize that something needs to done. Action must be taken.
It is easy to take our freedoms for granted in this country. My hope today is that each of us will instead pledge to utilize OUR freedom to speak up for those without.
“Let Freedom Ring!”
How will you let freedom ring today?