Tanner Wendell Stewart is a professional photographer. He was in Sofia, Bulgaria when a Roma Gypsy man tried to sell his six-month-old son to him for $50, because Stewart said the baby was beautiful. That moment inspired Stewart to do something. He has now published a 365-day photo journal created to abolish human trafficking.
Called "Shoot the Skies," the book's photographs are stunning—a starry sky over snow-peaked mountains, a lightning storm over the plains, and other amazing moments in nature. Every dollar goes to The A21 Campaign, which exists to abolish injustice in the 21st century through awareness and education. There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today—A21 focuses on rescuing one victim at a time.
If you think human trafficking isn't a tragedy in America, consider these facts: the FBI states that 293,000 American youths are at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking. It is estimated that 200,000 women are forced into the sex trade every year in the U.S.
Today is "Shine a Light on Slavery Day" in America. The END IT movement is working to end human trafficking and slavery. It is part of a coalition with World Relief, World Vision, International Justice Mission, and a number of other global organizations. What can we do to help?
It's simple: draw a red "X" on your hand. When people ask you what the "X" means, tell them about this initiative to end human trafficking. You can also post a picture of your "X" to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #ENDITMOVEMENT, and download a free tool kit to help you tell the story.
Initiatives like this are vital to our witness today. The church was once the most respected institution in America. Today we are commonly seen as outdated and marginalized. God is not a king, but a hobby. "Truth" is subjective, and morality is personal. "You have no right to force your beliefs on me" is the mantra of our day. But when Christians show the relevance of our faith to a skeptical world, we earn the right to share God's love in ours.
And we obey God's clear word as well: "Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry" (Exodus 22:22-23). By contrast, "he who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done" (Proverbs 19:17). What we do for those in need, we do for Jesus (Matthew 25:40). When we refuse to help them, we refuse to help our Lord (v. 45).
The Lord said of King Josiah, "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" (Jeremiah 22:16). By this measure, how well do we know God?
Publication date: February 27, 2014.