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SLAVERY IN AMERICA: Talking tomatoes and justice at the dinner table
Children can use their imaginations in such beautiful ways. We have been inspired by our children to think more creatively and courageously about how we can use our time, talent and resources to join God in the beautiful work of justice. Marta Sears
Marta Oti Sears is a volunteer advocacy leader in the state of Oregon for IJM Justice Campaigns. She is a freelance writer and contributing author of the book Just Moms: Conveying Justice in an Unjust World (Barclay Press). She also speaks and serves as a Mentor Mom with Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) International.
Our kids were one and four years old when my husband and I learned about the tragic reality of sex trafficking. We searched the internet looking for an organization that was helping these precious children and women and quickly discovered IJM. Soon we were reading IJMs books, going through their volunteer training and awakening to Gods passion to end all forms of oppression.
Those first few years we didnt talk about IJM or modern-day slavery with our kids. When we left them with grandparents so that we could attend IJMs Global Prayer Gathering, we did our best to explain what we were doing in age-appropriate ways like, Were going to pray with other people for children and families who are hurting.
As our kids got a bit older, they started to pick up on the passion for justice that God was growing in us. A prayer that we often said at dinnertime was, Lord, to those who hunger give bread. And to those who have bread, give the hunger for justice. (I found this Latin American prayer in Sojourners magazine.)
One afternoon I sat down with the kids to watch The Prince of Egypt, the DreamWorks movie about the life of Moses. As I watched and listened to this familiar Bible story about God freeing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, I was overcome with tears as I made the connection between this epic historical event and Gods unchanging passion to bring rescue and freedom to women, men and children trapped in slavery today.
This childrens movie provided a natural, age-appropriate way for my husband and I to talk to our kids about injustice, modern-day slavery and Gods desire to use ordinary people like Moses and us to stop injustice. Our kids asked great questions during that conversation and others that followed, and a passion for justice began to grow in them.
I overheard them talking one morning about saving their money to buy an RV when they grow up. As I asked them questions I learned that they had already talked with several of their friends about saving their money for the RV too. The RV was for the circus they were going to start that was going to travel all over the world to the places where people were being used as slaves. Why do you want to take the circus to those places, I asked.
So that the slave owners will come to our circus, my 7-year-old answered, and while theyre at the circus, we can go free the slaves!
Children can use their imaginations in such beautiful ways. We have been inspired by our children to think more creatively and courageously about how we can use our time, talent and resources to join God in the beautiful work of justice.
When we make time to cultivate the seeds of compassion and justice in our children, we offer them a rich environment where they can develop deep roots and grow. Thats why Im so excited about the Recipe for Change Family Action Kit! IJM has done the hard part of creating a fun, easy-to-use tool that both kids and parents can dig into and enjoy. Now all my husband and I have to do is use it with our kids. What a beautiful way to engage in the work of justice as a family!
Justice Campaigns mobilizes people around the country in support of U.S. policies that will lead to the abolition of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Join us this summer for Recipe for Change, as we campaign for guaranteed slave-free tomatoes.