40 Million

We, in this country, toss around a lot of talk about racism, oppression, and the vestiges of slavery. Each of these topics is worthy of discussion and consideration—not to mention, action. Still, I’m afraid that they tend to overshadow (even obscure) the fact that there are more slaves across the earth today than at any time in the history of the planet.

I’m not speaking of spiritual slaves (as in slaves to our own sinfulness), child labor, or even sweat shops. I’m talking about literal slaves—people owning other people—people maintaining total control and power over others. In today’s world, there are 40 million slaves.

If you add up all the slave trade that brought people to the North American Continent over the 400 years it was legal to do so, you’d have to multiply that by four to equal the mass of human trafficking that is currently in existence. It’s bad enough that this condition exists—it’s worse that we (for the most part) ignore it or don’t even realize it still occurs.

$150 Billion Industry

Human trafficking currently generates $150 billion (yes, with a “b”) annually. It’s pervasive, insidious, and disgusting. Yet, we hear very little about it. We are tucked away in our own cozy cocoons of prosperity and comfort, so we give little thought to the fact that slavery could be as widespread as it is. After all, we outlawed that in this country over 150 years ago. We fought a war that resulted in its abolishment. It’s a thing of the past, so why worry about it?

Why indeed? When someone in the heart of America can request and direct a made-to-order, online sexual escapade between two slaves (often children) from another part of the world, we are complicit. Cyber-sex slavery is the fastest growing form of human bondage, and powerful western wealth can command a large seat at that table—and normally does.

The victims of this profuse enslavement are usually the poor and weak. Children make up a high percentage of them. The fact that many of us are either unaware, complacent, or even uncaring is a pathetic statement about our willingness to hide in our nests of luxury and well-being and avert our eyes from reality.


If you’ve got enough courage to take a quick look at a brief story of a seven-year-old boy named Maarko and his little sister, I encourage you to click on this link (Supermaarko). If it doesn’t move you to some kind of action, you haven’t got a heart. The action could take the form of prayer, monetary support, or physical involvement. In any case, a little compassion can go a long way.

In Isaiah 58, God speaks through the prophet and says, “Loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, set the oppressed free and break every yoke.” We’ve been called by God to do this. We have the power to accomplish it. Do we have the will? I sincerely hope so.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

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