Tearfund Launches New Slavery and Trafficking Resource

Tearfund has launched a new resource pack this month full of information and practical, innovative ideas that focus on slavery and its modern day equivalent - people trafficking.

The launch of the Freedom pack marks 200 years since Christians led a movement to end the transport of slaves into Britain and the resource is ideal for churches, small groups and leaders, featuring a CD with the new song How Long, by Al Gordon and features additional tracks recorded by Tim Hughes among others.

Hughes and Gordon have both contributed extensively to an inspirational guide enclosed for worship leaders.

The renowned Holy Trinity Brompton worship leader Hughes stressed the need to make justice a central aspect of worship as he called on Christians to engage with the issues of slavery and trafficking.

"We have a responsibility as worship leaders", he said. "In many ways it's the songs we sing that mould and shape people's theology. So let's engage with these issues. Let's be a people who remember poor communities, who sing about God's heart for the widow and orphan - who look to God to fill us up and send us out to be good news to marginalised people."

He hopes the pack will be both challenging and envisioning, "and dare I say it - uncomfortable," adds Hughes. "It's not easy to look at the reality of life for many people on this planet and compare it to the relative luxury we live in. More than anything, we hope that it might propel you into action."

The pack also contains a short film on DVD capturing an imaginative journey from an everyday world to the darker life haunted by modern day slavery, the film being based on Tearfund's work with trafficked girls in India.

The resources, which include useful sermon notes and youth activities, are threaded through with powerful stories including that of Olaudah Equiano, a former slave who was central to the anti-slavery campaign and whose work turned the hearts and minds of the British people against the slave trade.

Central to the resources is also the story of the young Yorkshire MP, William Wilberforce, the well connected and eloquent Evangelical who campaigned relentlessly against slavery. A dozen times he tried to get the Abolition Bill passed and each time it was rejected until 1807 when parliament finally passed the Bill - to a spontaneous eruption of three cheers.

This achievement saw a ban on slave trading come into effect in Britain, but it was another 30 years, three days before Wilberforce died, before slaves were set free throughout the British Empire.

Now Christian relief agencies like Tearfund, a member of the Stop the Traffik coalition, are working against modern slavery. In 1807 there were four million slaves. The UN puts today's figure at over 12 million people worldwide, and that doesn't include the millions further enslaved by acute poverty and injustice. Human trafficking is the third largest source of income within organised crime, second only to arms and drug trafficking. An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year.

The Freedom pack has information on campaigning and includes a postcard to send to the Prime Minister - to ensure the Government doesn't fail to keep its focus on reducing poverty.

Tearfund is also part of the ongoing Micah Challenge campaign against a different kind of modern slavery - poverty. The campaign is pressing world leaders to take more action to ensure the Millennium Development Goals are fulfilled by 2015.

"Like the generation of Christians who ended the trans-Atlantic slave trade, churches and individuals are encouraged to speak out and stand up for people in poverty," said Tearfund. "This year there is a key opportunity. World leaders made a promise in the year 2000 to halve poverty by 2015, signing up to the Millennium Development Goals, and June 2007 marks the halfway point. Christians can join Micah Challenge to blow the half-time whistle and remind those in power to keep that promise."

Tearfund is working with local churches and development organisations in parts of Africa, India, and Nepal and on the Thai borders with Cambodia and Myanmar to protect and rescue vulnerable people. In Cambodia, Tearfund partner Cambodian Hope Organisation provides vocational training, emotional support and a chance to go to church for children who have been trafficked - or for those who are at risk from traffickers. In India, the Aruna project provides healthcare, life skills training and testing and counselling for HIV for women and girls who want to leave the sex trade.

The Freedom resource pack can help play a part in setting people free from poverty - "helping churches, small groups and individuals get informed and engaged," it said.

You can help:
£7 a month could train one teenager every month in motorbike repairs, computer skills or sewing. Getting a job means teenagers are less likely to be trafficked.

£17 a month could restore dignity for two trafficked girls every month, paying for project staff to provide care, counselling and support.

A single gift or a commitment to pray can also go a long way to stop trafficking.

Churches and small groups can order the Freedom pack by calling 0845 355 8355 or visiting: www.tearfund.org/freedom