There seems to be a lot of press swirling around right now about a man named William Wilberforce, and the movie that opens tonight called "Amazing Grace". To be honest with you, until a few months ago the name sounded familiar, but I didn't really know who he was. I thought it would be good to jump on the publicity bandwagon and encourage whoever might be reading this blog to do a couple of things. First, watch this clip about the movie that opens tonight:
The movie is based on the true story of William Wilberforce, a young politician who made the choice to use his resources and position to do something about slavery. He introduced his first Parliamentary bill to abolish the slave trade in 1791 and was quickly silenced, but he continued making passionate appeals and introducing bills every year until February 23, 1807 (exactly 200 years ago) when at last the bill abolishing the British slave trade was passed.
This looks to be a good movie, with good actors and a great story. I encourage you to go see this movie this weekend. "Opening Weekend" is important because in many ways it sets the tone for the longevity and media support for this movie. It also sends a signal to Hollywood to start producing more family-friendly movies (I guess those three words could be considered as a definition for "oxymoron"). You were probably going to rent a movie or watch one on tv this weekend anyways, so why not go see this one instead.
We don't necessarily see many instances of slavery around us today (although living in the South, Taya and I can still see it's affects even 150 years later), it's important to know that slavery still exists in the world today. Not only does it exist, but it's going stronger than ever. It's estimated that there are over 27 million people in the world who are being held against their will and forced to do hard manual labor, or young boys kidnapped and forced to join a militia, or little girls being sent to a brothel and then forced to do indescribable acts with perverts.
It's not good enough to just watch a movie, or read some stat's... now do something about it. Here's a couple of ideas:
You can visit the website associated with the movie by clicking here www.theamazingchange.com , while you're there you can sign a petition to end modern-day slavery that will be presented to world leaders. Then you can put your money where your mouth is by helping to support organizations who work to free slaves around the world, like International Justice Mission www.ijm.org, or you could help protect children from people who would prey on them by sponsoring an orphan who is in need. Two great organizations are www.childcareworldwide.org or www.missions-network.org (which is the orphanage my Dad is building).
Two of my favorite bible passages relate to this subject and are found in Psalms 146:7-9 and James 1:27. The first verse talks about how God cares for the underdog: "He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked." ~Psalms 146:7-9
The second verse says that we can follow a whole bunch of rituals and we can talk about God all we want, but what really demonstrates God in our lives is caring for those in need. It says: "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." ~James 1:27
By the way, if you would like to listen to a CD that has true stories of modern-day slaves who have been set free and a phenomenal message by Gary Haugen, the head of the International Justice Mission, just email me and I'll see if I can get it to you.