Wednesday, November 5, 2014
There's darkness and then there is darkness . . .
This afternoon saw perhaps the worst conditions in the area of human trafficking. As I updated on my Facebook status this afternoon, there are days when I think I have seen it all. Then, in a quick punch, I am simply floored by the depravity that human beings can show another human being. Canon Ken Peters of the Mission to Seafarers was the instrument of that shock. Ken’s ministry is among the approximately 1.2 million seafarers employed by cargo ships, fishing vessels, and other maritime vessels outside the cruise industry. More than 98% of those who live and work at sea are men. Some will go as five years between stepping on shore. Adding to the problem of human rights and, more specifically human trafficking, is that no one knows who ultimately is responsible for those on the ships. Should it be the country in which the vessel is flagged? Should it be the country of last port? Of intended port delivery? As Ken so aptly put it, take all your normal pastoral problems and put them in a tin box surround by water—that’s our ministry!
I won’t share the details of the ministry on this blog, as I cannot be sure who reads and who doesn’t. What Ken showed us disturbed every one of us. For those among us who were survivors, it was a tragic reminder of the life they escaped. For those of us who minister in those shadows, it put the dangers faced front and center. I am also reminded about the need for prayer in situations such as this. Many of us will never have the opportunity to minister like Ken and those in his organization. We will never see the evil that they do. But we can certainly support them through our intercessory prayers. It seems the least we can do when these (mostly) men and women risk their lives daily so that we can eat food produced around the world, buy goods made anywhere in the world, and even enjoy the seafood that sometimes finds its way to our plates. Prayer. It seems such an impotent answer to overwhelming evil. Yet we all know that none of us can change the conditions of those on the ships. It will take God moving and softening lots of hearts, both of those who enslave and those who seek to minister to those who have been enslaved. Pray for our seafarers and those who minister to them.