Last Tuesday, my last day in India, I visited the International Justice Mission. The Chennai office specializes in bond-labor slavery issues. As they talked me through their mission and what they’re doing about it, there were echoes of some of the trials we had in the Western world during the industrial revolution. Many of you have probably heard the Tennessee Ernie Ford song with the line “I owe my soul to the company store.” While many of the labor regulations of today are overblown and bordering on tyrannical, some of the labor practices during the early industrialization of England and the United States were sinful and needed to be abolished.
Here’s a couple of snippets from the IJM website about the work of the Chennai office (I’d encourage you to check out the rest of it):
When we first began work in India, many government officials had received no training whatsoever on combating forced labor or sex trafficking. Slavery seemed hidden: Many people told us they didn’t believe it still existed in the country, and those who were aware of it didn’t have hope that anything could change.
Forced labor slavery uses deception, threats or violence to coerce someone to work for little to no pay. Although slavery has been outlawed in nearly every country, millions of men, women and children are working as slaves in brick kilns, rice mills, garment factories, fishing operations and many other industries.
Slavery can come in sneaky forms. What’s gone on in our past (antebellum South, industrial slavery) is wrong. Freedom requires that man be allowed to negotiate his own wages and comings and goings, and Christ came to bring that freedom. Slavery is unnatural and contrary to the created order. And IJM is working to help the developing world end the problems before they get worse…and I’m excited about the work they’re doing.
Here’s the story of one of the rescued slaves:
Oh, and here’s that song about the company store: