Posted by: mikebackup | May 11, 2013

Stop the traffick

Acts 16:16-34

New International Version (NIV)

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

Here we continue our journeying with Paul. I’m going to make a couple of observations about the passage before moving onto what I’d like you to take from this. We start with a slave girl who tells people’s fortunes for a fee. As she keeps shouting about Paul bringing a message of ‘salvation’, he commands the spirit to come out in the name of Jesus Christ. Paul does not want his preaching to be confused with telling fortunes! The crowd takes Paul and Silas to the marketplace, which is where the Roman magistrates would settle disputes. They are accused of spreading their ideas (while Romans allowed Jews to practise their faith, they did not like it when they tried to win converts). Paul and Silas were both beaten and thrown into jail and, in their suffering and captivity, they pray and sing hymns, and indeed the earthquake recalls the Psalms, and God’s delivering those who cry to him in their despair (Psalm 18.7-9; 68.7-8).

The importance of the earthquake is not as an event or as a miracle, but in forcing a reaction to it. The crisis point for Paul and friends is summed up in the words of the song by The Clash: ‘Should I stay or should I go?’ The apostles were in prayer at the time; even so, their decision to stay was not the obvious one, given their previous treatment. The jailer too – shaken up in his previous identity – faces his own moment of decision, and leads his household into baptism. In a familiar sequence, the whole group then share a meal together – the significance of belief, baptism and table fellowship for the Early Church is again underlined.

Let me pull out some key words from the passage that will lead me onto my main thought – ‘a female slave she earned a great deal of money for her owners’ and ‘the foundations of the prison were shaken’
Watch this. It’s one of those hard hitting videos that the lead up enables the punch right at the end.

 – Stop the Traffick Advert

Then watch this video by rapper LZ7 and popular Christian musician Matt Redman. You might not like the music but the song was designed to highlight human trafficking to a young audience. It got to number 12 in the charts which was great.

There are more slaves today than at any time in human history – that should punch you hard in the stomach.

It’s not the slavery of times past, it’s manipulative and traps people, like this woman.

http://www.stopthetraffik.org/spot – Think you have seen the signs? Click this link and watch the video.

Christians are called to shake the foundations of these prisons and there are things we can do. The Stop the Traffick organisation provides detailed information on how to spot the signs. We are a very safeguarding aware Christian Community, what we need to ensure is that our eyes are open at all times. Here’s what Stop the Traffick says:

Count the signs. If you see one or more of these signs at a property consider making a referral to the appropriate organisation. Alongside these specific signs can you identify any signs that suggest movement, recruitment, deception, coercion or exploitation? (source: http://www.stopthetraffik.org/spot/scenario/7)

Self-Esteem
Is the person lacking in self-esteem or do they seem anxious with an expression of fear?

Deception or coercion?
Is there any evidence to suggest deception or coercion maybe taking place?

Control
Does the person act as if instructed by another? There may be control over their movement, either as an individual or part of a group.

Threats
Have there been threats against the individual or their family members? There may be signs of phychological trauma.

Legal Documents
Is the person in possesion of their legal documents? They may be held by somebody else.

Medical Care
Does the person need any medical care? Access to this care may have been prevented.

Debt
Does the person perceive to be bonded by debt or is money deducted from their salary for food or other costs?

Trust
Is the person is distrustful of authorities? Victims may fear being handed over to them.

Family Contact
Does the person have contact with their family? Limited social contact is typically imposed on trafficking victims.

For children the signs are these:

Possessions
Does the child have money, expensive clothes, mobile phones or other possessions without plausible explanation?

Neglect
Are there any signs of physical neglect? This may be basic care, malnourishment, lack of attention to health needs and possibly physical symptoms of exploitative abuse.

Guardian
Is the child cared for or accompanied by an adult who may not be the legal guardian? They may insist on remaining with the child at all times.

Labour
Do they show physical indications of working? They might be overly tired in school or have backaches and worked hands from doing manual labour.

Boyfriend
Are there adults loitering outside the child’s usual place of residence or does the child have a significantly older boyfriend?

Family
Is the guardian of the child not an appropriate adult? Not an immediate family member (parent / sibling) and cannot provide photographic ID for the child.

Withdrawn
Does the child seem to be withdrawn and refuse to talk? They might be afraid to talk with people who have authority.

Substances
Can you see any evidence of drug, alcohol or substance misuse?

Christianity can often be thought of in personal terms, our effort to walk closer with Christ. That’s true, but it’s not the whole picture. Christianity is also about fighting evil in the world and this particular evil takes an observant person to spot it. Please keep your eyes and ears open and together we may set some captives free.

Prayers

We pray for those waiting for their chains to be unfastened;
those in debt, those addicted to drink or drugs or gambling.
Open the doors of their prison;
unfasten the chains in their hearts.

We pray for those subject to abuse,
those in destructive relationships.
Open the doors of their prison;
unfasten the chains in their hearts.

We pray for those who are victims of injustice,
those who have been victims of crime.
Open the doors of their prison;
unfasten the chains in their hearts.

We pray for nations being destroyed by war,
for those who suffer in the name of religion.
Open the doors of their prison;
unfasten the chains in their hearts.

We pray for those exploited by others,
for those tortured by a sense of failure or rejection.
Open the doors of their prison;
unfasten the chains in their hearts.

We pray for all people bound by illness, guilt or fear.
Open the doors of their prison;
unfasten the chains in their hearts.

Amen.

Gracious God,
sometimes things happen
that shake the foundations of my life and faith,
and it’s hard to find the courage to go on.
Speak to me as Paul spoke to the jailer,
that I might be reassured, strengthened
and filled with greater compassion, warmer hospitality,
and a faith that will withstand
all that would disturb or overpower it.
Grant me to walk my way of resurrection
as Paul walked his, with conviction,
thankfulness and grace.
I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen


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