Modern-day Slavery Addressed at Turnagain UMC

Unusual Program by Anchorage Church Standards
Rarely does my social consciousness get raised in my many Anchorage area church visits. Bob, a good Rotary friend, emailed me of an upcoming presentation dealing with Sexual Slavery scheduled to be presented at Turnagain UMC last Sunday. I was immediately intrigued as to how churches dealt with this incredibly damaging issue, and made plans to attend, though I was concerned there were no other announcements of this presentation in the local press.

Great Pastoral Judgement
Turnagain UMC had a normal church service this day except new Pastor, Bob Smith, surrendered his pulpit to Mark Wexler to share this issue. Mark is co-founder and Executive Director of “Not For Sale”, a modern-day abolitionist movement networking churches, communities, state leadership, and leadership in other nations to stop human trafficking. Learn more about his organization at .[img_assist|nid=161669|title=Mark Wexler, Guest Speaker – Turnagain UMC|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=278|height=490]

Slavery Huge Problem and Growing
Initially Wexler noted there are currently, worldwide, more people in slavery than at any other time in history, approximately 30 million with between 100,000 and 200,000 of this number in the U.S.! He first showed the slavery of young boys that supports the worldwide cocoa/chocolate industry. The Ivory Coast in Africa, one of the largest cocoa producers in the world, is estimated to use the slave labor of 15,000 boys from other African nations to support its production. Despite legislation and compacts to the contrary, this practice continues to grow supported primarily by Great Britain and the United State’s dependence and strong demand for chocolate goods.

Sexual Tourism/Slavery
Wexler then transitioned into the worldwide sexual slavery problem presenting the story of artist Kru Nam in Thailand who became aware of small children who’d been sold as sex slaves, and began to rescue them. Wexler’s organization is working with Kru Nam by building housing for hundreds of children to house them after they are rescued, and to give them a better life, including access to education. Sexual tourism is a huge worldwide industry supported by many people from the U.S. People of faith should not tolerate it, solidly raising our voices against it. Be informed. Wexler’s group has detailed slavery information here and an interactive worldwide slavery map here.

An excellent documentary, The Dark Side of Chocolate, may be watched for free by clicking here. Fair-trade and slavery-free lists of chocolate can be seen by clicking here.

I applaud Turnagain UMC for having the courage to present this program during their normal worship hour, an extremely rare event in my Anchorage churchgoing.

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