NEW YORK – A national Christian-centered program aimed at promoting awareness and taking action on human slavery is currently taking place over 12-days at New York City campuses, with a mission that one of the organizers described as "what Jesus went to the cross for."
"Awareness for something is like a 50 on a test. That's a fail," said Jonathan Walton, InterVarsity's New York City Urban Project Director, in a phone interview with The Christian Post on Thursday.
"If you make someone aware of something, and give them no action steps, that's just irresponsible. Awareness is inadequate, that's what people need to understand. You actually need to give people concrete steps to do this."
The Price of Life initiative by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is hosting over 100 different events at over 15 college campuses in the New York City area, with aims to both educate and activate students, as well as church, business and community leaders, into getting involved in the fight to end human slavery.
Human trafficking statistics show that there are over 20 million slaves at any given moment, and close to 30 million children have been sexually abused over the last 30 years, which translates to two children every minute. Child laborers, some who are as young as 5 years old, number close to 200 million around the world.
Walton insisted that in the face of such overwhelming statistics, Christians need to remember that this is the what "Jesus went to the cross for."
"The reality is, in Isaiah 53, when He says He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities – these are the things He is talking about. It's not that we have to go to the cross or carry these things. We are conquerers through Christ, not conquerers through our college degrees, or how much money we have, or because we are American – but conquerers because of who Christ called us to be in His kingdom."
Price of Life campaigners are aiming to develop 600 student leaders, mobilize 10,000 advocates, and inform 50,000 people to join the fight against human slavery. As some immediate things people can do to help, the initiative advises people to ask coffee shops and grocery stores selling chocolate whether such products have not been made by slave labor.
Additionally, people can also donate to Price For Life's giving campaign, the Humanitas Fund, which is raising $150,000 to support organizations involved in the fight against human trafficking, including Prevention (World Vision), Rehabilitation and Recovery (Restore), and Skills Building for Independence (Nomi Network).
The InterVarsity Urban Project Director continued: "We want to inform, inspire, and equip 12,000 people in university communities and beyond to fight sex trafficking and follow Jesus – they both go together. The invitation is to get people to follow Christ, and to fight sex trafficking and labor slavery, and if people are followers of Jesus already, then to actually be engaged in the justice that God calls us to."
Walton shared a number of verses, including Jesus' sermon in Luke 4, as well as Isaiah 61: "Jesus did not say 'the spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me to seek the American dream,' he did not say 'the spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me to get a good job, make lots of money,' and just live life. What he said is 'the spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach the good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, save the oppressed, proclaim freedom for the captives."
Walton added that there are real consequences for those who do not care for the poor, as the Bible points out in Matthew 25, "Those who do not care for the orphaned, for the widowed, for the fatherless, those who do not give their lives to the sick and broken, like He did, then they do not know Him," he added.
The culminating event, the Price of Life Freedom Festival, takes place on Oct. 10 and Oct. 11., and will feature live music performances, art by modern day abolitionists, and true stories of human trafficking victims. The official website offers a schedule of the full 12-day program in New York, as well as further information on how people can donate and get involved.