This chart came together a few months ago during my time in South Sudan. It illustrates the inextricably intertwined nature of everything in the larger redemptive narrative and outlines our places as “ravellers” of an “unravelled” world – that holistic story of transformation and redemption extends to every corner. The implications of the cross inevitably and tangibly worked out find their way into everything from healthcare to justice to art to sex to economics.
N.T. Wright, in his book Surprised by Hope, writes “Redemption doesn’t mean scrapping what’s there and starting again from a clean slate but rather liberating what has come to be enslaved….. What you do in the present – by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself – will last into God’s future…They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”
To me, at least, that’s a helpful perspective when it comes to fighting human trafficking in South Asia.
First, in acknowledging the complexity of the issue (and world) at hand. The brokenness of the sex trade and human trafficking in Sonagacchi is holistic – systemic poverty and economic disparity, political corruption, spiritual darkness, moral and cultural complications, and layers of criminal networks are all intertwined and relevant and not to be ignored for an accurate and whole picture.
So, with a holistic brokenness necessarily comes a holistic fight for justice. Those things aren’t out of the realm of the justice worker or the Christian – they’re all relevant, all ought to be studied, all to be taken into consideration and addressed. No matter how much I want things to be black and white and clear cut, acknowledging complexity is necessary to do anything well in this or any arena. That works itself out particularly in my role as a communicator. Telling true stories means attempting to penetrate through the fog to show where and how the dots connect.
Second, what we do and how we do it matters. For the current plan, starting a bakery to employ and empower women trapped in the sex trade – that means that how we responsibly run that business matters. How we make an apple turnover matters. How we interact with women in the bakery’s employ matters. Relationships, economic empowerment, business, culture, and those glimpses of goodness found in delicious pastries all end up connected, relevant, and worked through.