As I hopped into my car at Long Bay Baptist Church, having just spent an hour with the Long Bay BMF group sharing with them about Stand Against Slavery (SAS), I was continuing to feel the blessing of God upon me after sharing my story, heart and vision for a slave free world. I would have stayed longer but I had to get back to my office for a scheduled meeting.
As I drove down the motorway and over the Auckland Harbour Bridge I got a phone call from SAS team member, Steph. Don’t worry; I had my hands free unit on so I was being a safe driver. Anyway, Steph rang to say that TVNZ had called about the press release that went out earlier in the day indicating that three arrests had been made—two in Motueka and one in Auckland—for trafficking 18 Indian nationals into the Nelson area for forced labour. Steph, who handles our communications with the media, suggested that this is an interview that I, as the CEO of SAS, should accept.
A few minutes later I received a call from TVNZ discussing my response to the arrests, and whether I thought this was the ‘tip of the iceberg’. After another phone call from my office I was asked to come into the TVNZ studio by 6:50am the next morning for a 7:20am slot on Breakfast. After I hung up I had Newstalk ZB ring and ask if I was available to talk with Mike Hosking on his show in the morning at 7:20am as well. I explained that I would be on the Breakfast show so Mike rings me at 6:35am as I’m driving into the TVNZ studios.
At 6:55am I am collected from the car park and taken into makeup to ‘powder my nose’ and then into the greenroom to await my cue to go onto the show. As I’m sitting there a family arrived to receive a prize on the show, and a minor party politician got his 3 minutes of airtime during election campaigning. While I’m waiting to get wired up with a microphone and so forth, former Justice Minister Judith Collins comes into the greenroom waiting for her grilling on national TV—this was a couple of days before she resigned from Cabinet. I introduce myself as she sits next to me and asks “are you here to talk about the arrests yesterday?” I got the feeling that she would have much preferred to talk about my topic than hers, but I didn’t think there was much chance of that, and probably neither did she. Because of the specific segment we were on, we both had to go onto the set at the same time. Judith was first, being interviewed by Rawdon Christie, and I would follow with Ali Pugh.
To view the interview online go to TVNZ.co.nz and search “Human Trafficking tip of iceberg.” You’ll find a link to a 5m44s video.
Once we had finished, we went to the advert break so the show could change to their next segment. I chatted a bit more with Ali about the interview and Rawdon chimed in with his thoughts around the importance of keeping the victims in New Zealand to ensure full prosecution of the arrested gentlemen is cemented.
As I was walking through the building to the lifts to take me to the car park, I turned my phone on and texts and messages started flowing through, congratulating me on a great interview. I drove away from TVNZ feeling a new sense of God’s blessing upon me. In less than 24 hours of the knowledge of the three arrests I suddenly found myself on national radio and television explaining how this very first arrest for human trafficking in New Zealand is just the tip of the iceberg. I was back in my office by 8:00am and sat for a moment thanking God that he used SAS today for the furtherance of His mission. I didn’t talk about Jesus, or use Christian language, but God’s work was being done.
I am convinced more than ever that God’s call on my life is to stand against slavery and I am so grateful we get to do what we do because the Baptist denomination also believes God wants us to focus on this issue.
We celebrated our first year as SAS on 2nd October 2014. Twelve months earlier, to the day, the Mission Council of NZBMS approved the establishment of SAS. Two days later the BUNZ Assembly Council in a joint venture ratified that.
We have a series of goals we wanted to achieve in the first three years. All but one of these have been completed or are well on the way to completion. God is good. We are now in the process of reinventing – to look at the next three years in the light of the last twelve months.