Did you know that slavery, still, exists today? Do you believe that your neighbors are held captive against their own will for generations upon generations? Did you know that you work with slaves? Pass them in the grocery stores? You see at least one slave a day and you are too busy to notice them.
I recently read a compelling story of a family who had been saved from slavery of working a brick kiln. It is a gruesome example of manual labor, where workers prepare and bake clay into bricks. They dig up this clay, prepare and mold it, bake, then drag the bricks off to the side to repeat the cycle.. over and over again, every single day of their lives.
The first mention of a brick kiln is in the book of Jeremiah. Even as far back as 626 BC, work in a brick kiln was a job known to slaves.
Today, most who work brick kilns have been born into this life of slavery. They are held captive by generations upon generations of “debt” owed by their ancestors. Brick kilns will often take advantage of a slaves illiteracy to manipulate paperwork so the debt can never be paid back. Can you imagine what it must feel like to be born into an unimaginable form of slavery where day in and day out you wake to dig, bake, and drag this material next to a scorching furnace?? I can’t.
As I sat and read the miraculous story of this family’s rescue, my heart sank for them, for their bondage is far from over. Their physical escape is just the beginning. It will take nothing short of God’s mercy to carry them into salvation from the mental and emotional anguish inflicted on them through slavery.
I wondered, “If I passed a member of this family on the street, today, would I notice the effects of this turmoil in their smile?” The answer to that question was probably not.
This made me think of the many faces I pass everyday. I wonder how many of them are emotionally and mentally held captive from the effects of abuse, mental illness, inescapable addictions of family members, or slavery of another kind… I will never know.
I now feel a responsibility to all slaves. Whether it be slaves to the physically inflicted, or slaves to the mental and emotional inflicted. For I have been set free from my own bondage and it is, now, my job to take up my cross and share what the grace of God looks and feels like.
I will forever remember the beginning of my physical relief from mental and emotional slavery. It all began smack in the midst of the peak of my career.
I moved 6 hours away from my entire life to raise a child, alone for the very first time, without help, while pursuing my dream job. This was a blessing and a curse. I had yet to get to a place in life where I had the opportunity to deal with the past pains of rejection and labels of worthlessness.
As I struggled to make it in the city alone, the owner of the company I worked for did something insane! He had the audacity to believe in me. He not only told me he believed in me, he showed me by trusting me with the leadership of a pretty incredible team of students.
This was a double edged sword. As I have always longed to have someone believe in me, I, also, starved to be accepted. Though I earned the acceptance of my boss, my co workers were a different story. I spent endless hours trying to prove myself as a viable teammate to my coworkers, while battling emotional slavery to past labels of worthlessness. The feelings of failing at raising a child with no one around to help balance the workload didn’t help much, either. The dynamic of this picture would not have been as big of a big deal had it not confirmed what had been said to me so many times in the past… “You Aren’t Capable! You Are Not Enough! You Do Not Measure Up.” Though I was certain of my abilities, I constantly questioned whether others were. I had never felt more like an imposter than I did during that season. I had physically been rescued but I was, still, living like a slave.
Though I live with the regret of leaving because I may never get the opportunity to see what I was truly capable of, coming home was necessary at the time. It taught me that good performance is a band aid. It may feel good at the time, but obedience and faith in the real hero, Jesus Christ, is the only way to complete salvation and freedom.
We can get physically saved from bondage, but until we have full faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone, we will never truly be set free.
Since this family was rescued by an incredible non-profit ministry team, I have no doubt they will get the tools they need to build a fruitful relationship with the ultimate Rescuer!
You may know someone who is bound by physical, mental, and emotional slavery, or you, yourself may be weak from the chains of bondage… if so, I ask that you say this prayer with me today:
Dear Heavenly Father,
I lay the cross of slavery at your feet today. I have complete trust in You that I am now set free from all that has held me captive physically, mentally, and emotionally. I rely not on my own understanding but on You, Lord, and You, alone. For You sent Your only begotten Son to save me from shame, guilt, and worthlessness. You are the One, the only true light to our salvation and I lift up my past, present, and future up to you in accordance to Your divine will. In God’s name, I pray. Amen.
Sweet child, be free.