Stand Against Slavery (SAS), an organisation targeting the evils of modern slavery, was launched at this year’s Baptist Gathering with the unanimous endorsement of the Mission Council of NZBMS and the Assembly Council of the Baptist Union. This new independent entity is to be headed by Peter Mihaere, who is standing down from his position as General Director of NZBMS to take on the new role. Below is an abridged version of the presentation he made to the Gathering...
By Peter Mihaere
Slavery and the slave trade is one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the world.
It is the evil sale and trade of a human being from one to another for the purpose of profit and/or exploitation. In every country in the world, slavery is illegal yet in every country in the world slavery exists.
There are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history.
Last year the International Labour Organisation, part of the United Nations, published a report estimating there are 21 million slaves in the world.
Three weeks ago a new report was published called, the Global Slavery Index, by well-known abolitionist and researcher Kevin Bales and anti-slavery research organisation, Walk Free. It puts the estimates of slavery at 30 million, including between 470 and 520 slaves here in New Zealand. Anecdotal evidence alone suggests that this is a very conservative estimate for this country.
There are many people in our Baptist churches who are already involved and already committed to eradicating slavery. At NZBMS we already have ministries that press into these areas. Some of our Baptist businesses overtly seek to address sex slavery in India. Many of you know that story.
Stand Against Slavery will serve as a specific interface with other international organisations already involved in the fight to eliminate slavery.
Stand Against Slavery!
If there was an organisation that in three words covered your vision, your elevator speech, your bumper sticker, your strategy, your message, your point of difference, your proposition, your reason for being, your purpose, these three words are pretty clear.
• Stand - To be in an upright position on the feet. To rise to one’s feet.
• Against ñ in opposition to; contrary to; adverse or hostile to. In resistance to or defence from. In an opposite direction to. Into contact or collision with; toward; upon.
• Slavery - The condition of a slave; bondage. The keeping of slaves as a practice or institution. A state of subjection like that of a slave. Severe toil; drudgery.
Stand Against Slavery exists to “fight for a world where freedom reigns.”
It is not enough to advocate freedom and call humanity to the cause of freedom. The reign of freedom comes when it has conquered and removed slavery from its throne.
The initials of the name Stand Against Slavery are not lost on people, particularly the warriors among us. This is a battle and it’s a battle that must be fought.
Stand Against Slavery will have five underlying guidelines that will shape its activity:
1. We will be a voice for the enslaved
The world has already determined that freedom and liberty is a right of every human being. As a nation we signed the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights on the 10th December 1948, 65 years ago. Article four of that declaration says:
“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”
Stand Against Slavery will be a voice for those who are enslaved and can no longer, or may never have been, able to speak for themselves and their desire for freedom.
We will do this by partnering with organisations, which have solid reputations in the fight against slavery eradication. We will also be engaging in the different ministries within our Baptist movement.
We have already begun the strategic dialogue with Baptist Youth Ministries. I would love us to grow a movement of 20,000 young people to stand against slavery as a statement here in New Zealand.
We are talking with Children & Family ministries on how we help grow the next generation of abolitionists now.
I would love to develop a dialogue with community ministries, with Maori and with our ethnic communities to better understand where slavery interconnects with them.
2. We will seek holistic freedom
If complete freedom and liberty is a right for all, then every dimension of freedom is important, be it physical, spiritual, emotional, or psychological.
In advocating for the enslaved Stand Against Slavery will fully respect culture, background and belief without compromising a person’s right to freedom.
We will do this by committing to the long haul of helping people to freedom and we will choose partners who have a similar commitment.
We will help churches and individuals to engage in that longterm help. You may be skilled in trauma counselling; you may have expertise that a partner organisation needs; you can pray for people who have long term rehabilitation needs in order to re-enter society.
3. We will strive to eliminate slavery demand
Intervention in the slavery supply chain is critical, and it must increase with urgency.
However, it is insufficient if we are to genuinely see a world where freedom reigns over slavery.
We must also enter the fight to end the demand for slavery.
This is an area where very little is done around the world because it is so complex, however Stand Against Slavery will do everything in its influence to see initiatives started that will see demand eliminated.
This includes addressing uninformed and greed based consumerism, disproportionate wealth distribution and the devaluing of humanity because of gender, societal ranking or ability.
4. We will be local and global
Freedom is the right of everyone the world over and this includes New Zealand.
Stand Against Slavery will apportion sufficient energy and time to the enslaved in New Zealand as it will to those enslaved around the globe.
We will help you by resourcing you with avenues to serve in both local and global contexts.
5. We will pursue justice from a Christian worldview
The Christian faith teaches that followers of God, through Jesus Christ, are called, among other things, to set the oppressed free. As a Baptist movement this allows us another opportunity to bring Christ’s light to this country and to this world.
We want to encourage people of all backgrounds and faiths to join in the cause of Stand Against Slavery. However, we want to be clear that we act and pursue justice from a Christian worldview.
The task ahead is enormous. If you read all the literature on modern slavery it will nearly always say that slavery CAN be eradicated and it can be eradicated in our life time, in one generation, within 25 years.
Having personally walked the streets of Dhaka and Kolkata, and seen the red light districts of Bangkok and Pattya, I believe slavery will NOT be eradicated in one generation. It might be eradicated in New Zealand in one generation, but not around the world. More realistically it could be eradicated in four generations. My daughters’ grandchildren could live in a world where slavery does not exists.
But that can only happen if this generation does what it needs to do to leave a legacy for our children to carry on.
So Stand Against Slavery needs to recognise the marathon race it is in and go step by step to build something that can we wind down at the close of this century.
It begins with New Zealand Baptists.
In establishing Stand Against Slavery, as an organisation, which will stand independent of NZBMS and the Baptist Union, but strongly linked, we want it to be available to the wider body of Christ and the wider community of Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Its genesis is Baptist but its reach is far wider. It’s time to rise up! It’s time stand up!
If you believe you want to be part of the Stand Against Slavery, go to www.standagainstslavery.com and subscribe to our regular communication and be part of a new movement of God’s people, which will extend to a wider community involvement across this nation.
Baptist Lead Conference
22-24 June | Wellington
Hui (Baptist Assembly)
5-8 November | Bethlehem Baptist