“So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit… and they sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver.“ (Genesis 37:23-28)
This is the first story I had ever heard of human trafficking. But despite its dark beginning, this story has always held such beautiful hope because it does not end there.
It would have been a different story had Joseph been sold into slavery and become an abused and forgotten slave, rotting away in prison until his death. If the story ended with Joseph in the depths of despair, alone and vulnerable, mistreated and rejected, it would be a harrowing story to read – a hopeless story.
But a few chapters later, light shines into the darkness, and God works in Joseph’s life as only he can.
“And Pharaoh said to Joseph….’You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command…See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’ Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus, he set him over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:39-43)
God raised Joseph from that pit. He removed him from a life of vulnerability and despair and made him rule over a kingdom second to the king. Joseph’s sorrow was turned to joy; his vulnerability turned to authority, and he was no longer a slave but one rewarded by the king.
This is the hope that God offers. He offers to pull marginalized people out of their despair and into his kingdom.
God does not always provide earthly riches or a life of comfort. Joseph’s experience of earthly rule and riches is but a taste of the blessing that comes after this life. God promises that his people will reign on the new earth in eternity. He will one day place a crown on the heads of his people and usher them into his kingdom to reign under him in his image.
“…by your blood, you have ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation… and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelations 5:9-10)
So, what hope is there for women around the world who are victims of human trafficking? It is the same hope we all have: Jesus Christ, whose blood has ransomed us. As Christians, we are God’s people. We are the vessels he often uses to bring hope to the afflicted, the vulnerable, and the hopeless.
If we do not personally know a victim of trafficking, what can we do? When we hear stories of human trafficking and feel hopelessness for these women, how can we act? There are two responses we should have to the problem of human trafficking.
First, we ought to pray. We should pray for victims as individuals, the organizations working to rescue them, and the governments over them.
“First of all, then I urge that supplications, prayer, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people, … it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
Secondly, we must be willing to go where God calls us. We may be called to financially support, volunteer with, or commit our careers to serve organizations that work to end the hopelessness of human trafficking. As followers of Christ, we serve him by loving and serving those who are helpless.
“’ Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
God offers hope to make our stories echo that of a slave in a pit brought up to rule beside the king in glory – and he offers that same hope to every woman.
Through Christ, we have hope for our hearts and hope to offer suffering women around the world, too.
TWR Women of Hope's program, Hidden Treasures, is bringing hope to trafficked women. Due to positive feedback, we're creating part two—a musical experience for healing and freedom. Our team of musicians, producers, and writers is working on airing a pilot episode by the end of 2023. To help us reach suffering women with the message of hope, please consider contributing to Hidden Treasures part two here.