Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world. James 1:26-27 (The Message)
Yesterday, despite my best intentions, I went to bed at 3:30 in the afternoon and did not wake up until 8:00 this morning. I had plans for the day including going to a concert at the county fair. After church, we went to the fair for lunch, but after an hour, I told husband I needed to come home. I couldn’t breathe well and was so tired. Despite how poorly I felt, I cannot believe I slept for more than sixteen hours. While I was asleep, we went from Sanctity of Life Sunday to Martin Luther King Day. I think that there is some symbolism there. It used to be that on Sanctity of Life Sunday, the lesson was all about abortion and how Christians should take a stand against the murder of babies. Yesterday’s lesson included abortion, but branched off into areas that used to be taboo in Sunday school. We talked about discrimination against the poor, elderly or mentally handicapped, child abuse, bullying and human trafficking. I know some of the people at my table were astounded at the facts on human trafficking. There are approximately 27 million people enslaved throughout the world with 2.5 million in the United States. 100,000-300,000 teens and children under the age of 18 are trafficked within the United States each year, and every year, 600,000 to 800,000 more people are added to those numbers worldwide. These people are not just being used in the sex trades, but in industry and agriculture. The knowledge that Florida is in the top three states for human trafficking alongside California and New York boggled their minds and to hear that Tampa, less than an hour drive from us, is the city within our state with the highest number of enslaved people made them sick. Or at least I hope it made them sick. Today is Martin Luther King Day. If he had lived, I believe Martin Luther King would have extended his fight against discrimination to include people of all races trapped into poverty, lack of medical care, or slavery. In our country, we pride ourselves on the fact that slavery ended 150 years ago on September 22, 1862 with the Emancipation Proclamation. The Thirteenth Amendment, which was enacted on December 18, 1865, officially made slavery illegal in the United States. Yet, we turn our heads and refuse to acknowledge that slavery is still alive and flourishing in our own country and throughout the entire world. I think of my own dear Billy in Guatemala. A child with mental handicaps due to starvation. The question all of us have who fall in love with Billy is what will happen to him when he is too old to live at the malnutrition center? In a world that values beauty, intelligence and wealth over life, what will happen to a child or one with child like reasoning who has no protector? We as Christians must rise up to care for those who cannot care for themselves. People with God’s love in their hearts must begin to speak for the people without a voice. Or will we continue to sleep peacefully in our bed of ignorance while others suffer?