Easter – All Who Are Enslaved

Readings for this week April 9 – 13.
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings.

Many thanks to World Vision International for providing the material for these readings.

Day 1 – Modern Slavery

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Jeremiah 22:13

wv6This week, as we walk alongside children who face slavery or forced labour, join us in a busy street market in Peru…

You are a young boy named Joel. You feel the hustle and bustle of everyone walking past you. It’s an exciting place—lots of bright colours, fantastic smells and delicious looking food. While you want to wander around and explore, you can’t. You are here to work, using all of your strength to lug a trolley larger than yourself and carry packages for other customers. Hopefully you will make enough to buy food to fill your family’s hungry stomachs. Your father left before you can remember, so from the age of 3, you’ve had to find ways to support yourself and your family. Because you need to work, you don’t get to play with the other children and often have to miss school.

At the age of five, you are sent away to work in the fields with your uncles. Working here is much harder than the market. You’re under the sun all day, working your body to the point of breaking. You feel imprisoned, not free to be a kid and have fun. At night, you just want to rest, but often you find your relatives taking their anger out on you—yelling and even hitting you. As you lay in bed trying to fall asleep, you find yourself feeling sad, missing your mother and family back home. You feel so alone and trapped here and wonder if things will ever get better.

Prayer
Pray for children like Joel who are working or have been forced to work.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – Freedom

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 118:1-7

After a year of working hard in the fields, your mother sends for you to come home. You never thought it would happen, but you finally get to see your mum and you feel safe again. Your mum tells you she has registered you to be a ‘sponsored child’. You’re not entirely sure what that means but, because of the support your family receives through World Vision, you’re able to stop working and focus on school. Soon you begin receiving letters from your sponsor. You are so excited to be getting letters from far away and you create drawings to send back to your sponsor.

Years pass and you graduate high school, fueled by a passion to transform your emotions, pain and dreams into art. As you enter art school, you are given your first set of oil paints and you remember your journey from a small child to now.

So much has changed, but your gratitude to your family and sponsor family, and excitement to create art has not faded. You begin using your talent to bring awareness to the issue of child labour. Your art advocates for children’s rights and gives a voice to the thousands of working children in Peru.

Questions to Consider
How can you relate to Joel’s story? What does the word ‘freedom’ mean to you and how have you experienced it in your own life?

Prayer
Pray churches, organisations & communities respond to the prevention of child labour, helping to restore the lives of those affected by it.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – A Manifesto of Liberty and Compassion

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 4:14-21

wv7Jesus went to His hometown. His public ministry had begun after His baptism and the temptations in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). His fame had started to spread as a result of his teaching. He was getting a great reception. It was then that Jesus went home to Nazareth, a deeply religious town in the hills high above Lake Galilee.

Jesus chose a reading from Isaiah the Prophet (Isaiah 61). Jesus was ‘filled with the power of the Spirit’, and used the text from Isaiah as a way of explaining His ministry. He told listeners, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’ (verse 21). In other words ‘I am the fulfilment!’ Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus put these words in practice. He spent time with the poor and oppressed. He told them about the Good News of God’s kingdom and how they could be part of it. He healed people, cast out demons and fed people. He taught about a different way of living based on trust in God, life in which we can be (in the words of an old hymn) ‘ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven!’

Questions to Consider
Who is imprisoned in your community? What are some ways for you to respond where you are?

Prayer
Ask for God to give strength, protection and freedom to children who are currently enslaved and forced to work.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Remember the Enslaved

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Hebrews 13:3

In today’s day and age, it’s hard to believe that slavery still exists. But around the world, people are still imprisoned in modern-day slavery.

Where poverty is widespread, children are especially at risk of being forced into labour, having to work to feed themselves or their families. 85 million children are enslaved and millions more work. No child should be forced to work and risk their own safety and health.

Joel’s story is just one example of how the Christian community around the world can engage with the poor and oppressed. As Christians, we are invited to step into God’s freedom and work towards creating a world where the oppressed are set free.

Jesus enters our lives not just to transform us but to also be a vehicle through which He might transform others. Joel did not have an easy childhood, but God used others to set him free. Now Joel is using his new life to be a voice for others through the gifts God gave him.

Questions to Consider
What can you do to show solidarity with those who are still enslaved in our world? How can help free those who are modern day slaves?

Prayer
Pray that those in power—government, policy makers, other authorities—learn how harmful child labour is and work towards making a world where all children are free.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – All Things Made New

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Revelation 21:1-4

Continue to walk in Joel’s story throughout your daily actions this week. As you work or do chores around the house, think about what it would be like to be a child who is forced to work and not free to really be a kid.

Tie a piece of twine or string around your wrist. When you notice it throughout the day, use that moment to think about and pray for the millions of children stuck in slavery and labour.

Towards the end of the week, reflect on these questions and discuss them with your family, small group or a friend:

· As you went throughout the week, how often did the string around your wrist catch your attention and make you stop to think about Joel’s story?

· How has walking with Joel’s story changed your understanding of child labourers and those imprisoned?

· How do you think the Church should respond to modern-day slavery and those imprisoned? What role can you play in creating freedom for others around the world?

Prayer
Pray for those around the world in need — the hungry and thirsty, the stranger and unclothed, the sick and imprisoned; for all those around the world caught in the situations that you have read about over the last six weeks. Ask God how you can continue to care for ‘the least of these’ in your daily life.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)