Sunday, September 11, 2005

"A Future with a Hope" 9-11-05

Good morning, Lord Jesus. When I have been around so many people who do not know You, in a nation of the world where so few have ever even heard Your name, I realize how grateful I am to have You in my heart. Forgive me for all the times I have taken You for granted in my heart and in my nation. ... Yesterday we met with about a hundred victims of slavery who were set free just a year ago from the evils of the illegal but highly prevalent system of bonded labor in India. The investigators working with the Christian lawyers of International Justice Mission had found a man named Nagaraj with the courage and the conviction to take a stand against his slave owner. As is often the case, the man had received a loan in a family crisis in exchange for his servitude at a brick kiln, which would become a prison for him and for his family. The moneylender becomes the slave owner with absolute control over the lives of a family who the owner knows will never be able to repay the loan and never be free from bondage for rest of their lives and for the lives of the generations to follow. Another man trapped in the cruelty of this form of slavery had openly wept before the magistrate, as he told how his owner would not even let him leave the compound of the brick kiln to attend the funeral of his mother. The circumstances of greed, power, desperation, poverty come together to form the evil of forced slavery in the illegal bonded labor system of India. The system is abolished on paper but alive in the realities of the brick kilns and rice mills of India until there is one who is willing to speak for the rights of the victims. Nagaraj began to realize his children would never go to school and would never have a life away from the slavery of the brick kiln. He was desperately crying out for help to the gods he knew. His idols of wood and stone could not hear his cry, but there was a God who did -- the God who sent His servants to bring deliverance from oppression and freedom for the captives as advocates for His justice. After meeting the IJM team, Nagaraj began to share his hope with the other victims who became willing to take a stand and offer evidence of the crime. Now they gather once a month with Selvan from the IJM aftercare team, to make sure their families receive the plot of land for a home and the funds for a new life the government provides for the victims with a voice to assert their rights under law. This month they gathered at a social service center sponsored by a church who is teaching their children and others to tailor and sew in a life that is free. We were there for the celebration of graduation and the priest asked the fathers of the girls to speak. One of the fathers wept as he said, "'Last year my daughter was cutting bricks in the prison where we were trapped. Now she is learning and smiling and dancing. She is so mature and beautiful, I can hardly recognize her." Gerry and I thought he was kidding when he asked me what I would speak about at this graduation ceremony. Little did I know I would be giving the commencement address along with Selvan. As I saw the new hope in their hearts, You brought to mind the Source of their hope in an opportunity to share of the God of hope: "For the surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for your harm, to give you a future with a hope. Then when you call upon Me and come and pray to Me, I will hear you. When you search for Me, you will find Me; if you seek Me with all your heart, I will let you find Me says the Lord" (Jeremiah 29.11-14). Lord, You are the God of hope. You are the God of freedom and deliverance who sets us free from oppression in the physical and in the spiritual realms. You reveal Yourself in Your love and Your power to all who are desperate enough to call upon Your name. You are the voice of the Advocate who demands our justice and restores our hope. Let us never take You for granted; let us always give You praise. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen. Be encouraged this day! In the Love of Jesus, Tommy Hays To subscribe/unsubscribe, please send a note to me at Messiah Ministries -- "Preparing the Way of the Lord." Our address for ministry and contributions: 2800 Tates Creek Rd.; Lexington, Kentucky 40502. Come to The Fountain the 3rd Saturday night of every month. Daily archives: