The theme for this year’s Annual Day of Prayer for Victims of Human trafficking is Stand Up for Justice. What exactly does it mean to stand up for justice?
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In 1973 a team of psychologists conducted a study1 with seminary students in an attempt to understand “helping behaviour”. Participants were allocated into groups and asked to prepare material on either future career options for seminary students or the story of the Good Samaritan, both to be presented to a class in a separate building. However, upon receiving their topic some participants were told they only had a few minutes to leave in order to make the presentation on time, others were told they were running late.
The twist in this study is that on their way to the presentation, participants came across a man the study termed ‘the victim’. This man was ‘sitting slumped in a door-way, head down, eyes closed, not moving’2. As participants walked past the victim, he would cough twice, groan, and keep his head down. The study investigated the connection between people’s hurriedness and the likelihood that they would stop to assist the victim. It found that those who were in a hurry were less likely to stop and help the victim, even if they were going to talk on the topic of the Good Samaritan.
To stand up for justice requires something from us - it requires our time and our energy. Justice asks us to stop and pay attention to the world around us; it asks us to engage with people who have been pushed aside and ignored. To stand up for justice is to stand up for people, many of whom are victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. Justice requires that we embrace a lifestyle in which we put God’s Kingdom first. As we participate in the Annual Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking, our prayer is that we would stop and listen to what God is saying to us – that we would see how God is already working in the world, and join in this work.