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How our church responded to modern slavery

Jane Golden has been heading up a team at Ruislip Baptist Church for a number of years, reports baptist.org.uk. She explains more ...

About eight years ago I had a very clear vision from God to not ignore, but to act after hearing that today, men, women and children in our world, country, neighbourhood and streets are being exploited into modern day slavery.

I showed a video clip of the issue in a Sunday service at Ruislip Baptist Church and asked people to respond by joining a small group.

The aim of the group initially was to raise awareness of human trafficking in the church and local community. Initially we built up knowledge and a shared understanding of the issues – What is human trafficking? How do you get trafficked? – in order that we were equipped to raise awareness. We used initiatives and resources from Stop the Traffik and Hope for Justice organisations, such as hotel door hangers and a taxi campaign.

We then started to have a stand regularly at church events as well as local festivals. We gave out thousands of leaflets and free bottles of water as well as spending time talking to the public. We ran events at church, spoke at church groups and local groups as well as having mugs in the church kitchen to raise awareness!

To mark Anti-Slavery Day (18 October) we have run Freedom Sunday services in church over the last three years. Those in the small group have led and preached at these services, updating the church on how God has been working through us as a group and praying as a church for those in slavery and exploitation.

In 2016, as a group we felt that God was calling us to use our gifts and skills in a different way. This led to a meeting with the modern-day slavery coordinator from the organisation Hestia, which runs safe houses for survivors of modern-day slavery. It was from that meeting that we now have a shared partnership between Ruislip Baptist Church and Hestia. Members of the small group and others in the church now volunteer in the local women’s safe house.

This was further developed in 2018 when we started to volunteer in the local men’s safe house. There are currently 20 volunteers from the church partnering with Hestia. Alongside this we have a virtual prayer group that receive regular updates on what we are doing as a group, and the activities in both the women and men’s safe houses. We also have a ‘giving group’ that provide much needed items for the safe houses as well as Easter and Christmas gifts.

In 2018 within the UK, 6993 people were identified as potential victims of modern day slavery. The Global Slavery Index estimate there are 136,000 victims of slavery in the UK today. A recent survey of churches within the Eastern Baptist Association found that 19 per cent of churches had knowingly been in contact with people who had experienced slavery in their community.

Would your church know how to spot the signs of someone who has experienced slavery? Can your church partner with other churches in your local area or other organisations towards a slavery-free community?

There are so many ways you can get involved as a church to help the fight against slavery. If you would like to find out more, contact Together Free's Antislavery Co-ordinator Revd Dan Pratt, dan@togetherfree.org.

Together Free is a Baptist-based network working with local communities and churches. It appreciates the unique quality and power of local knowledge and relationships to bring an end to Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

‘You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know’
William Wilberforce

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