Monday, July 14, 2014

Fighting Modern Day Slavery (teaching kids how to)

For the third year in a row, I was asked to head up the missions part of our VBS. Two years ago I presented Bite Back, last year I presented Water of Life, and this year we talked about modern day slavery.

You see, the theme for our VBS was Wilderness Escape - how God led the Israelites out of slavery, so I thought it would be cool to raise money to fight modern day slavery that affects so many children in the world today.

This can be a tricky subject to introduce to kids because there is nothing straightforward about it. And there is that whole sex-trafficking industry that makes up a huge percentage of modern day slavery. Probably not appropriate for me to talk about.

The past two years we raised money for issues that Compassion directly addresses. And although sponsorship is a great way to address the issue of modern day slavery (I believe that sponsorship is a great way to prevent modern day slavery for many kids), I needed an organization that was directly involved in the fight.

I decided to use the Loose Change to Loosen Chains campaign from International Justice Mission.

I downloaded the toolkit and used it as my starting point. I also created a pinterest board with ideas I found on line.

In the past I've put on a Bite Back t-shirt or Water of Life t-shirt for my presentation, so this year I made a shirt with a big red X on it. I also put red X's on the children's hands each night to help them to remember to bring money the next night.

I always like to send the kids home with something tangible for two reasons:
  1. It serves as a possible conversation started between child and parent
  2. It serves as a visual reminder to bring $ later in the week

Each night I had 3-5 minutes to talk about our mission focus.

Day 1 - I simply shared what we were collecting money for and why.

Day 2 - I shared simple facts about modern day slavery and shared a personal story of a boy named Gopinath, whom was freed through the efforts of IJM.
  • slavery is illegal in every country
  • 27 million slaves around the world
  • 40-50% of those are children
  • Africa and Asia have the most slaves
  • India is the country with the most slaves
  • Gopinath's story - HERE
Day 3 - By this point we had raised $100 so we began to cut the chains off our "enslaved" child. Each chain represented $5, so I had the kids count by 5s until we reached $100. They loved this demonstration!

Day 4 - I showed this video....

Day 5 - I announced the total of donations that had been brought in - $303!! - and we cut the rest of the chains off our boy. I asked one of the kids to come up and pray over the money we had raised - that God would use it to bring freedom to some children who are caught in the cycle of slavery.

I love teaching children about some of the painful realities of our world. I am thankful for the opportunity to encourage them to see a need and do their best to meet it. I also love the conversations that were started between myself and several of the adults who were present. In those conversations we were able to talk about deeper things - like buying fair/direct trade coffee, chocolate and clothing.

My prayer is that through these opportunities, seeds are planted. In the years ahead, as these children grow up and begin to better understand the realities of this world, they will remember the seeds that were planted to help bring justice to the oppressed.

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