The church and its witness: remembering God’s redemption
By Rev. Cathy Chang
Deuteronomy 5: 1–6, 12–15, 21
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Reflection: The first time I preached about human trafficking and modern-day slavery, I struggled to find relevant Scriptures. Eventually I focused on God’s call on Moses to confront Pharaoh and demand freedom for the enslaved people of Israel.
Almost four and a half years later, at a recent Philippine consultation with migrants, I rediscovered Moses. Just as God was calling the Israelites to remember both their former status as slaves and God’s redemption, God is inviting us today to remember and move forward. During my introductory reflections at this consultation, I said, “Forced migration and the labor export policy are enslaving our people. This slavery is holding captive the very people whom you love, your family members, your friends . . . This slavery prevents people from working here, living here, growing up here, and growing old here in the Philippines . . . From the financial debts incurred by the extensive network of recruiters and lending agencies . . . to the banks and other creditors benefiting . . . to the emotional guilt of not being available for their families . . . to the dirty, dangerous, demeaning, working conditions, all these conditions amount to slavery.”
Action: Following Moses and the former slaves who fully live out God’s redemption, we remember who we used to be—and that we shouldn’t perpetuate these slavery conditions for others. What are the laws that we can advocate for? Download “Statement of Concern: The Many Faces of Human Trafficking” (see page seven) and choose at least one action item for today.
Prayer: God of the prophets, you spoke through Moses and you shaped laws that are the basis of social responsibility. When we hear you today, help us confess the ways that we perpetuate slavery-like conditions. Renew our social responsibility when we advocate for and enact laws that protect today’s slaves.
Rev. Cathy Chang is regional facilitator for Addressing Migration and Human Trafficking with Presbyterian World Mission. She is based in the Philippines and works throughout southeast Asia. Previously she served as associate pastor at the Bertha E.R. Strosacker Memorial Presbyterian Church in Midland, Michigan, and Lilly pastoral resident at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church.
This year’s A Season of Peace resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues like human trafficking and sustainable development, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the days of this year’s A Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect on:
- Peace that passes understanding: personal testimonies of faith and peace within self, within families, within communities
- Partners in peace: interfaith work for peace and justice, building peace between us while witnessing to peace in our wider world
- Go and see: reflections from travel study seminar participants
- The church and its witness: reflections on addressing trafficking in its varied forms
- Peacemaking and practice: stories and reflections on building bridges and crossing divides
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 2, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 7.