Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rome: Day 3, 1st morning session notes . . .

While I do not think the passage tells the story of human trafficking, it certainly allows us to use the biblical narrative to inform our understanding/treatment of some survivors and traffickers. In this sense, the passage is certainly alive and in dialogue with modern contexts. We can speak to momasans or even those prostituted and demonstrate that God cares enough for them, knows their situation so intimately, and is yet more than willing to bind Himself to them as kinsman-redeemer. I think in a strict sense, some of our discussions along these lines do violence to the text. I think in a gracious sense, though, Scripture allows us to speak into the life and experiences of those whom we are trying to serve.

A good example was the raped woman in a shelter. To Fulata, she appeared like a dead woman walking. The shelter was very much concerned with “right” doctrine about God. The girl was keeping the baby and being taught it was a gift from God. Had anyone thought to ask her? Was she making the choice conscious of God’s love for her and her baby, or was she making the decision to avoid being cast out and losing support? She was 14 and unsure which of three men who raped her was the father. Such liberation theology based approaches to Scripture, I think, allows others to see themselves in God’s plan of salvation, even if a strict reading of the text does not seem, at first, to apply to such situations. While not “orthodox” in its approach, I think it brings out the living Word way in which we rightly perceive Scripture. I disagree with Fulata’s assertion that Ruth is a trafficked woman. I do give thanks, however, that her engagement in the text with her background, has made her a powerful advocate for those who suffer gender violence and/or from human trafficking. For those interested in Fulata’s paper, shoot me an e-mail (Title it Fulata in the subject line so I can search and find it easily).

Bishop Alastair led off our discussion of policy with the Church of England’s efforts to protect victims. That discussion led to a discussion about the importance of definition and word choices. People universally are opposed to slavery, but what is it? People are universally opposed to exploitation, but what is exploitation? The challenges in England are how to protect potential victims, who themselves are often charged with crimes, and keep the integrity of the system. Another question is how to deal with supply chains? How do we monitor and then enforce? Is it reasonable in the world economy to expect businesses under 60 million pounds to be able to police their supply chains to make sure there is no slavery in the chain? What of mom and pop businesses? What of judiciary? How do we educate them? Fighting slavery is like squeezing air in a balloon. When we pressure one area, it simply moves to another? Alastair spent time also discussing about the Christian response to the areas (hey, he is a bishop!). As Christian business owners, we have an obligation to our workers? As adults, we have a Christian responsibility to others in sexual relations? We need to not be killjoys and be a people who speaks of God’s redemption in all these areas! And, his context is different as the Church of England, and a bishop, he has a role in both the church and state. In America we can assert / lead movements to get the attention of politicians.

Unlike in Bishop Eraste’s context, where one must be invited by the government of Burundi. The have formed a national commission to set policy against human trafficking (he is one of those appointed). The Anglican church has done a fantastic job of trying to convince the government and society that the problem of human trafficking is real. Now, their “speaking truth to those in power” has earned them the opportunity to help shape the state’s response. Burundi is, in this sense, leading the charge in Africa. They hope to network with others around the communion so as to figure out how to deal with training law enforcement, setting up care facilities/shelters, educate business owners, and train the church leaders how to engage with survivors. It is his hope that Burundi will lead Africa in all this . . . I think that will preach!

Canon Ken spoke to a problem, quite frankly, I had not considered. He represents the Mission to Seafarers. There are 28 organizations which minister to this group. Mostly, the workers they represent and minister to are out of sight out of mind unless there is a piracy and they are taken hostage. It is a life of marginalization. Many have no real country to call home (country of origin or country of flagging). They are unable to get to shore in many lands as they have no real country to call home. Naturally, they are easy targets for modern slavery. They can be denied medical care, pay, sexual abuse, murder, and etc. Most of the seamen are men (1.2 million—less that 1% are women; 300,000 are of Philippine origin—necessary for the survival of the state), so the preponderance of sexual violence is homosexual (most women in this life are in the cruise industries). Pastoral response is necessary for ministering to this group. He bases his ministry in Micah 6:8 and Matthew 25. Very informed by Moltman. Trying to create moments of church onboard ships with crew. 3 seafarers die every day, 1 ship disappears every week. Just because we are Christian does not mean that we are unprofessional. We know our subjects! We just know the Lord, too! He is accredited by the UN to instruct government inspectors on the soft issues surrounding seafarers. For example, an inspector may catch that a generator is dead and require that it be fixed, but are they knowledgable about nutrition? Transjurisdiction causes all kinds of problems. see also the Apostles in the Sea for fishing worker concerns (Deadliest Catch has another meaning in most of the world) think of this like everything we know about human trafficking/modern slavery and put them in a tin box in the middle of the ocean. One change they have seen is the drop in sexual diseases — can’t get off to visit a girlfriend in every port. The Church needs to be speaking to governmental powers and the UN. Cannot absent ourselves from those discussions in the halls of power. Also, the church cannot tear down without building up!

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