"Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weakling say, 'I am a warrior.'" - Joel 3:10
Make sure you read that right. This isn't the better-known, more peaceable verse from the prophet Isaiah where swords are beaten into plowshares. This is the prophet Joel talking. And he's pissed. He's itching for battle.
What got Joel whipped into a state of holy outrage to the point of putting on his marching boots? A few verses earlier he laments, "They have cast lots for my people, traded boys for prostitutes, sold girls for wine." In contemporary language, he's fuming about human trafficking. Then or today, few enterprises are more heinous. I mean, if forcing children to become sex slaves doesn't ignite righteous anger in us, I'm not sure what would.
According to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. It's the world's second largest criminal activity after drugs. There are some 5.5 million children trapped in the human trafficking industry. Those lucky enough to escape face a long and difficult road to healing and recovery. Some survivors have declared "I am a warrior" and work to combat human trafficking and help victims.
As for the rest of us, we can go to battle too. Not with physical weapons, but armed with information, awareness, advocacy and action. Click here for fifteen ways you can help fight human trafficking. Do (or start) one today as a devotional practice. If nothing else, become familiar with the signs. Most human trafficking happens under our noses and in our back yards.
In a few days, we begin the season of Advent, preparing to receive God as a vulnerable child. He was entrusted to us… as are all of God's children.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace and a weapon of your love.
Matt Laney is a United Church of Christ minister and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first book, The Spinner Prince, will be available in April, 2018.