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Long-term Justice: Business Solutions to Human Trafficking

In our series this month “Exploring BAM as Justice: Choosing Hope in the Face of Challenge” we’re taking a deep dive into the intersection of faith, business, and complex global realities. We’ll be looking at business as mission’s impact on poverty and justice issues across the globe. Our final post for the series is ‘from the archives’, revisiting this post on what it takes to bring long-term justice and transformation.

By Mats Tunehag

In the 1700’s the slave trade was widely accepted and legal. It was, in fact, a backbone of the economy of the British Empire. It was a big, organized and transnational business.

William Wilberforce and the Clapham group decided to fight this evil trade. They chose to attack the systemic issue – the legality of slave trade and slavery. To that end they organized a decades long campaign focusing on justice, aiming at a root cause. They worked politically to change unjust and ungodly laws that permitted the dehumanizing trade.

They could have chosen an easier route of awareness campaigns and a boycott of sugar from plantations in Jamaica, but they knew such initiatives in themselves would not free the slaves or bring about lasting change. The feel good factor may have been higher, but the long-term outcomes would have been meager.

Charity and Justice

Today the slave trade and slavery are illegal, but not dead. Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and it is a lucrative and evil business. Just like Wilberforce and his colleagues, we need to ask what the systemic issue is today – and we need to go beyond charitable actions to fight for justice.

We visited St. Andrew Catholic Church in Clemson, South Carolina early 2016, and their vision statement struck us:

“Charity” is the generosity that alleviates needs that are immediate. “Justice” is the process by which generosity configures our ways of providing education, delivering health care, doing business, and creating laws that lessen the need for charity. There will always be immediate needs even in the most just of worlds.

Charity is the more attractive generosity. We see immediate results for the better and we enjoy – here and now – the gratification that comes from doing good. Justice is less attractive because it usually calls for personal and communal change, and we are creatures of habit.

We often respond to needs and global issues through non-profit charity models. But the danger is that some may have more of a PR function sprinkled with feel good factors, rather than dealing with systemic issues and root causes.

Wilberforce and the Clapham group were not popular; they worked against an institution – slavery – that was broadly accepted. Today, taking a position against human trafficking is among the easiest things you can do. The world will applaud you! But how can your stand free slaves and restore human dignity? Read more

Beacons of Hope: Economic Justice through Freedom Business

In our series this month “Exploring BAM as Justice: Choosing Hope in the Face of Challenge” we’re taking a deep dive into the intersection of faith, business, and complex global realities. We’ll be looking at business as mission’s impact on poverty and justice issues across the globe.  In our third post in the series, Karen Schmidt introduces us to economic justice through Freedom Business.

By Karen Schmidt

Human trafficking remains a pervasive global issue. According to the most recent statistics from the International Labor Organization (ILO), an estimated 49.6 million people are living in modern slavery. This number underscores the magnitude of the problem and the urgent need for comprehensive solutions.

Individuals often enter the cycle of exploitation due to economic vulnerabilities. Poverty, lack of educational opportunities, and limited job prospects make them susceptible to traffickers’ promises of a better life.

In the pursuit to combat human trafficking, the synergy between economic justice and Freedom Business emerges as a beacon of hope.

Committed to the creation of a healing-centered workplace, fair pay, good working conditions, and transparency & accountability, members of the Freedom Business Alliance (FBA) provide jobs that break the cycle of vulnerability. Through access to financial resources, job training, and sustainable employment, survivors are able to meet their basic needs, support themselves and their families, and reduce the risk factors that make them vulnerable to exploitation.

Read more

4 Things to Know about How Business Fights Poverty

In our series this month “Exploring BAM as Justice: Choosing Hope in the Face of Challenge” we’re taking a deep dive into the intersection of faith, business, and complex global realities. We’ll be looking at business as mission’s impact on poverty and justice issues across the globe. Here’s the first post with some essential points on how business fights poverty.

1. Poverty means more than just material poverty

Poverty in the biblical sense goes beyond lack of money and all its implications, although that’s part of it.

Christian development thinker Bryant Myers, in his seminal book Walking with the Poor, describes the nature of poverty as follows:

Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, they are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings. [1]

He took the biblical idea of shalom as the fullness of life that God intended before the Fall, where humans are in right relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of Creation.

Poverty, therefore, is the outcome of sin and brokenness in these four relationships.

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert built on Myer’s framework for their book When Helping Hurts and their work at the Chalmers Center. They put it this way:

The question of ‘What does it mean to be poor?’ requires more than a simple answer. We are all poor in our own way, as we grapple with the brokenness in the four key relationships in this world. Poverty is not solely about a lack of money; it encompasses a lack of intimacy with God, a lack of sensing one’s own worth, a lack of community, and a lack of stewardship over creation. – Chalmers Center

We all suffer from different types of poverty; you can be financially rich but socially poor, or financially poor but spiritually rich because you know Jesus.

To fight different kinds of poverty, we need to create different kinds of wealth.

Business has a special capacity to create financial wealth, but also has the potential to create different kinds of wealth for many stakeholders, including social, intellectual, physical, and spiritual wealth. – Wealth Creation Manifesto, Affirmation #8

Business as mission enterprises have the opportunity to bring positive impact in all four areas of our broken relationships: relationship with self, relationship with God, relationship with others, and relationship with the rest of creation. Business as mission is a holistic mission model with the potential to create wealth and address poverty in multiple different ways.

2. Business is part of God’s design and is uniquely positioned to respond to poverty

Business is not evil, it’s not even neutral; it is part of God’s good design. [2] Of course, since the Fall when all things were corrupted by sin, business has the potential to do harm or be used for evil (intentionally or unintentionally). But, it can also glorify God and do good. That is part of God’s original purpose for business; He designed the enterprise of business to enable individuals, families, and human society to flourish. Read more