Pastor raising awareness about modern-day slavery

September 14, 2015

John Lucy
In 2011, John H.D. Lucy rode his bike from Washington, D.C., to New Mexico to raise awareness

Helpful Links
Slavery Footprint –Think slavery doesn’t directly affect you? This website calculates your “slavery footprint” – or how the goods and services you use may be supporting slavery. Even Lucy admitted to having a slavery footprint in the 30s.

Polaris Project –This is the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit for which Lucy raised funds during his cross-country ride. The site is provides news, statistics and ways you can help.

National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline: (888) 373-7888 – A toll-free number where you can use to report suspected human trafficking. Lucy told those at Northfield UMC, the hotline will help callers assess situations. The Polaris and National Human Trafficking Resource Center websites also provide information about how to spot slavery.

“27 Million Revolutions for 27 Million Slaves” – Lucy’s book recounts the tribulations and joys of his nearly 3,000-mile journey. The book includes a bibliography and other resources about fighting slavery.

United Methodist Women – One of the UMW’s mission foci is human trafficking. Learn more about UMW’s efforts to raise awareness and fight trafficking.

about human trafficking.

Earlier this month, Pastor Lucy spoke about his experience and about what individuals can do to help end slavery at Northfield United Methodist Church in Vermont.

Lucy believes slavery can be eradicated and that faith and hope are essential to the fight.

“The only reason I don’t succumb to the pressure of always being ready to talk about my experiences and slavery, and always having my eyes and mind open and sensitive to an opportunity to limit the situations and attitudes that contribute to slavery is my faith,” Lucy writes.

“… we need hope to carry on, and faith to actually live the life of love that is so necessary to the fight against human trafficking,” he writes.
Lucy, who is pastor at Memorial United Methodist Church in Swanton, VT, said that while sex workers get much of the attention, people forced to work as domestic servants or as farm and factory workers are also victims of human trafficking.

Hear Lucy speak

Pastor John Lucy and the Rev. Kristabeth Atwood, pastor at Faith United Methodist Church in South Burlington, will speak about human trafficking from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, at Faith UMC.  Learn more
Lucy first became aware of the issue of modern-day slavery in high school when his class read a New York Times story about politicians frequenting prostitutes who were sex slaves. What interested Lucy was not the behavior of the politicians, but the plight of the slaves.

“… the real issue wasn’t and isn’t the politicians or some flaw in our democratic system. … The real issue is that slavery is still alive, just hidden, perhaps,” Lucy wrote.

Years later while in seminary at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., Lucy received a grant from the Fund for Theological Education that included creating a two- to eight-week project. He decided to focus that project on raising awareness about 21st century slavery.

Lucy decided to ride his bicycle across the country to raise money for the Polaris Project, a Washington-based advocacy group (His trip raised about $3,000.), and more importantly make people aware that slavery exists in this country and across the world and that it affects millions of lives.
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Though estimates are difficult to make and vary, Lucy told those gathered at Northfield UMC, that there are 27 million slaves worldwide. The number is represented in the title of his book about the 2011 journey “27 Million Revolutions for 27 Million Slaves.”

“27 million is a huge number … Yet somehow 27 million slaves escaped the notice of a fairly well-educated young adult … something was and is wrong with that picture,” Lucy writes in his book.

While that number may be difficult to grasp and make the problem seem intractable, Lucy offers some concrete steps people can take to help combat slavery.

Lucy, citing Luke 4:16-22, said Jesus made liberation and freedom his firs stated mission in life.

“Christians, of course are meant to be particularly gifted in sustaining a commitment to what is true and important though unseen,” Lucy wrote.
As practical ways to support a commitment to ending slavery, Lucy suggests the following:
  • Be aware: Just being aware of the issue and talking about it makes a difference, Lucy said. He urges people to make themselves knowledgeable and to pay attention to what might be happening in their own communities. If you suspect human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline. Churches can host community advocacy meetings to share information or as a call to action.
  • Get political: Acting to change laws is another way to help, Lucy said. For example, few states have “Safe Harbor” laws, which protect children who have been sex slaves from criminal prosecution. Writing state and national representatives is an important way to take action. Polaris Project and other organizations track pending legislation on these issues.
  • Fight the root causes: Advocating for policies to reduce poverty and war will fight slavery as well. “Ordinary, desperate people who only want to live, just like you and me, can and do become traffickers and users of slaves,” Lucy writes.
  • Confess: Lucy told those gathered on Sept. 3 that confession can be a powerful way to demonstrate that no matter what has happened in our past, God will not turn away from us, but will continue to love and accept us.
  • Offer hospitality: Lucy writes about the hospitality he received and offered during his journey, and why hospitality is a way to combat slavery: “We have to open our hearts and lives to one another so that we might work together, and to those held in slavery and those susceptible to slavery at all times if we hope to conquer,” he wrote.