Contrary to popular belief, the word sabbatical is not spelt H.O.L.I.D.A.Y. At least mine wasn’t. For me it has been a journey of ‘there and back again,’ not unlike Bilbo Baggins.
Do you know the story? Gandalf was looking for someone to go on an adventure and Bilbo couldn’t resist. It wasn’t without some trepidation. Bilbo wondered if he would ever return, and all Gandalf could promise was that, if he did, he would not be the same.
Now, I’m no Hobbit. And I never doubted that I would return. I knew, however, that I would not return the same.
The past six months have been an adventure of reading, learning, discussing, experiencing, and reflecting on what slavery and human trafficking is all about, and what a valid Baptist response might be.
Many of you have followed me and prayed for me as I entered into a world full of darkness, pain, and human exploitation. In the midst of that darkness I found some light—an army of good people committed to the liberation of those enslaved.
I also discovered that that army is under-resourced in their battle. They are up against a well-resourced enemy who makes money by answering the wants of a society that demands profit and cheaper goods for the lifestyles we take for granted.
For example, coltan is found in every cell phone. The largest known deposits are in the Dominican Republic of Congo where much of it is mined by enslaved children who are forced to climb into the mines and drag out the raw material.
No, you don’t have to throw your cellphone away, the point I make here is that we are all indirectly attached to slavery. I’m writing this column on my tablet while sitting in a plane high above Australia. I’m listening to Christian music on my smartphone through fancy noise-reducing headphones…
Ok, let me invite you into a context. Let me describe the playlist I’m listening to on my smartphone while writing this article. The playlist includes, in this order:
He Reigns, by Newsboys
We Speak to Nations, by Judy Jacobs
Albertine, by Brooke Fraser
You Have Shown Us Mercy, by Chris Tomlin/Paul Baloche/Steve Curtis Chapman
Twenty Seven Million, by Matt Redman and Lz7
This playlist is a collection of songs that speak to my spirit and remind me of my call as a follower of King Jesus.
Firstly, He Reigns speaks about the amazing moment when God’s children sing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns”; when every tribe, tongue and nation, the redeemed, forgiven, Holy Spirit-filled believers worship as one. This song provides a taste of heaven and it’s spine-tingling every time.
We Speak to Nations calls us to go to all corners of the world declaring that Jesus is King. It’s about the redemption of “the fatherless” and of whole nations.
Albertine is Brooke Fraser’s response to witnessing the poverty of Rwanda. She makes a promise that, “Now that I have seen, I am responsible.” Wherever she goes, and whatever stage she stands on, she will tell her story.
You Have Shown Us Mercy brings Micah 6:8 to life in music. “What does the Lord require of us, to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” The lyrics challenge us, “To the oppressed and the broken, to the widow and the orphan, let the river of Your justice flow through us.”
Finally, Twenty Seven Million. It’s a direct call to respond to the 27 million around the world who are enslaved. Relaying the story of a woman trafficked into the sex trade in London, the chorus shouts, “We have got to rise up, open our eyes up, be her voice, be her freedom, come on, stand up!”
It seems to me that my random, or perhaps divine, playlist presents the whole story of mission. From worship, to evangelism, to responding to the injustices of the world; we must do all three to reflect the Kingdom of God.
My sabbatical asked the question, what is the missional response to slavery and human trafficking? I want to implore you, “Stand up and take a stand against this evil. Get involved.”
But I must say this also, as followers of Christ that can only be done in partnership with a complete and utter devotion to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and it must include the proclamation of Jesus as King.
Luke 4:16-21 is often claimed by devotees to social justice. I understand that and I applaud their passion. But this passage is about the Kingdom of God which justice is a part of.
One Sabbath service, Jesus was handed the scroll of Isaiah and promptly proclaimed that the Kingdom of God had arrived. He announced that Jesus is King and he has come to proclaim the Good News of King Jesus and that his rule is, and will be, a just rule.
Do I feel compelled to call us as a movement to rise up, open our eyes, and be a voice for the freedom of 27 million enslaved and exploited? Yes I do, because I am a totally devoted follower of Jesus and I am compelled to declare that reign of King Jesus, to the nations, to my neighbour, to those who suffer and do not have a voice. It’s out of this that I call us to also seek to respond to the plight of the enslaved.
What does your playlist compel you to do? Hmmmm… more appropriately, what does God’s call compel you to do?
Peter Mihaere is the General Director of The New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society (NZBMS) – New Zealand Baptists Reaching the World. Contact Peter at email@example.com or phone (09) 5268447
With Permission From: General Directors Blog NZBMS