Sunday, November 4, 2007

Freedom For Modern Slaves

"He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. He says to himself, 'God has forgotten; He covers His face and never sees.' ARISE, LORD! LIFT UP YOUR HAND, O GOD. DO NOT FORGET THE HELPLESS." (Psalm 10:9-12)

Earlier this year, I joyfully read a new biography, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce And The Heroic Campaign To End Slavery, written by Eric Metaxas. I was already thankful for William Wilberforce, because 200 years ago he had also been a leader of an influential London group formed to bring Jewish people to their Messiah and also back to the Promised Land. The new biography focuses on Wilberforce's strong Christian faith and tireless work to make slavery illegal in the British empire and beyond.

Not long after reading that biography, I received a call from a young Russian woman in desperate need. Somehow, she had heard about Leslie in Brooklyn who knows the laws and helps people and is with God. She had answered an American man's internet fishing for a Russian wife, and had arrived several months ago to marry him. This alarming practice is not uncommon, alas. They married, and at first things seemed OK, but it turned out that he is very abusive, threatening and immoral, and has taken all of her documents and confined her in the home more or less as a slave. I am still in contact with her, and ask for your prayers.

The young lady appears to be a possible human trafficking victim. This form of modern slavery comes in many evil varieties, including forced servitude and even something specifically called servile marriage. It is a huge and growing problem in the world, very profitably operating through large dangerous criminal networks and also much smaller individual enterprises. It usually involves forcing or deceiving a victim to enter into an opportunity that turns out to be a slavery from which there is no escape. People are literally bought and sold in a morbid supplier/consumer setup. One of the very largest sources of these slaves is Russia, and one of the very largest destinations is the USA, particularly New York.

Our federal government has a specific hotline number and website to help and inform trafficking victims and citizens ( ) as well as safe places to which they can come if they want to be rescued and safely transitioned. Notice on the federal website that Russian is one of the language options. New York City also has a large non-profit agency with a special human trafficking victim branch, and there is an excellent new ministry organizing to help victims.

In the specific case of our lady, the local and federal agencies have been very responsive to us and willing to assist her. A main issue at first was whether or not she really wanted real help that would take her out of a bad situation into an unknown situation that, in her abused mind, might be just as bad or worse. It must be her decision, because her case at this point does not fit the criteria for an active intervention.

Our lady had an emotional investment in her abuser, even though things went terribly wrong very quickly (constant verbal abuse, manipulation and intimidation; confiscation of all of her documents; deception that our government is her enemy so as to frighten her and increase her sense of isolation and helplessness; forced servitude in the home all day every day; no opportunity to move about freely outside the home -- all very typical in trafficking situations). She desperately hoped he would change, but now realizes this is only a distant prospect. She is currently waiting for greater understanding of her legal options, and is more willing to choose outside help.

This young lady is just one of literally tens of thousands who have been brought to America through human trafficking -- modern slavery. As Christians, we need great compassion, wisdom and attentiveness. Especially we need to pray. Here are some specific prayers for our lady, and please remember the many other victims as well:

1. Assurance of salvation in Jesus (she has some religious background).
2. Immediate protection and wisdom for her and for us, especially since we do not know if he is part of a large ruthless operation or just an individual with more limited means of enforcement.
3. Safe opportunities and timing for her to communicate with us
4. Guidance and strength about receiving help and pursuing legal remedies against a trafficker, which would also open the way for more government assistance and financial/restoration aid.

"'Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,' says the Lord. 'I will protect them from those who malign them.' And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. O Lord, You will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever." (Psalm 11:5-7)

1 comment:

bekel said...

Leslie, I tried to find a 'contact' link, but couldn't, so...

I am a moderator at I'd like to place this post that you wrote on the campaign blog in our 'fact checking' section, but I'd like to have your permission to do so.

"The other night on Hannity & Colmes, Governor Huckabee welcomed a closer examination of his record in Arkansas. He served as Governor for 10.5 years, from mid-1996 to the end of 2006. Well, we decided to look at one of the areas under attack, the gas tax increase approved by 80% of Arkansas voters in a referendum early in Governor Huckabee's service in the highest office. He has said that Arkansas highways were among the worst in the country when he took office. What did Arkansas residents get for the money after they approved the tax increase?

A quick Google search of "state highway ratings" shows the first result: a multi-year national study published in 2006 by Reason Foundation, a libertarian-related organization favoring limited government. See the study yourself:

Some amazing highlights appear in their comparisons of all states between 1998 and 2004, the most recent year available at the time of publishing.

One of the main charts gives the cost-effectiveness rating of all states between 1998 and 2004. The study says, "This report continues an annual ranking of the state highway systems on costs versus effectiveness: comparative performance depends on both system quality and on resources available."

In 1998, Arkansas was ranked 47th worst in cost-effectiveness, according to the above definition that includes both road quality and funding. By 2004, Arkansas had risen to 31st best, tied for second most-improved among all the 50 states.

By comparison, look at these interesting states:
Massachusetts - 49th in 1998, 49th in 2004
New York - 48th in 1998, 47th in 2004
Illinois - 36th in 1998, 35th in 2004
Tennessee - 26th in 1998, 24th in 2004
Arizona - 20th in 1998, 37th in 2004

A most fascinating measurement is the administrative cost per mile of road, revealing bureaucratic costs as opposed to actual funding for the roads themselves.

In each of the above years, Arkansas had the lowest administrative cost per mile of any state in the union. Compare these states in 2004:
1. Arkansas - $1,749 per mile
29. Tennessee - $8,965 per mile
36. Illinois - $11,932 per mile
42. New York - $16,852 per mile
44. Arizona - $26,397 per mile
49. Massachusetts - $56,796 per mile

Just another glimpse of absolutely the most effective conservative in the race, Governor Mike Huckabee! Go Mike Go!"

Please e-mail me at bekeld__at__gmail__dot__com