According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More than 500 Free from Slavery in IJM’s Largest Operation Ever

Friday, May 13, 2011

CHENNAI – Today, 514 children, women and men are living in freedom after being rescued from a brick kiln in IJM’s largest anti-slavery operation ever. Sparked by a brother’s desperate plea, the operation brought freedom to nearly 400 forced to work in the kiln – including 23 children, the youngest only 8 years old – and their dependents, either too old and frail or too young and weak to work, but still held captive within the factory’s walls.

A call for help, three states away

Laborers were still at work making bricks when IJM and the local government entered the facility.
The whispered words of a forbidden phone call set in motion the force that would eventually topple the kiln’s brutal slave system. Boola, 27, managed to contact his brother, who listened with increasing horror as Boola described 18-hour forced workdays without enough food or rest, refusals to provide promised payment – and vicious beatings by the owner and his henchmen.

Determined to save Boola, his brother made a report to the government, stating that he believed there could be many more trapped along with him in the massive brick factory. The government referred the case to IJM for support. Together, they prepared for a major operation – but no one imagined the magnitude of the crimes they would find.

'Who wants to come out?'

Asked “who wants to leave?” the laborers raise their hands.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 27, 2011, a team of government officials and IJM staff, accompanied by police, entered the brick kiln, intent on liberating any laborers held there by force.

With a local government representative, Kandasamy, leading the way, the rescue team began to gather the surprised laborers from the brick ovens and huts into an open area. As the rescue team explained the reason they had come, excitement built among the laborers, who quickly began to call their loved ones to join the growing crowd.

It soon became apparent that the initial estimate of 200 people fell far short: A sea of people clad in tattered, but colorful, mud-flecked clothing stretched nearly 30 yards from where the team’s rallying point had been established. The sight was overwhelming.

IJM Chennai Director of Aftercare Pranitha Timothy turned to the throng and shouted in Hindi, "Who wants to come out?" Immediately, hundreds of hands shot up into the air.

Accommodating the 500

More than 500 children, women and men were brought out of the brick kiln to freedom.
The IJM team and Kandasamy and his staff began making preparations for the massive group desperate to leave. In a matter of hours, Kandasamy – an incredible advocate for the victims – had secured dinner, lodging and breakfast for all 514 people, a group comparable in size to that of a very large wedding.

He arranged for four trucks to transport the freed laborers to a nearby school, where they would stay for the next several days. When those trucks proved not enough, he used one that belonged to the brick kiln owner; already arrested, he was in no position to refuse. A medical camp was set up to administer check-ups and medication; a water tanker was brought in to provide clean drinking water; police provided 24-hour protection; and classrooms were cleared to accommodate the new arrivals.

Through the night until early the next morning, the freed laborers poured out their stories to local officials in order to be documented as released slaves. Through their recounting of cruel beatings, restricted movement and brutal labor, a common sentiment emerged: "Even if they pay us 10,000 rupees, we would not come back."

A certificate of freedom and a ticket home

As the operation stretched from one day to five, Kandasamy came up with more and more ways to benefit his 514 guests: by day two, a pair of television sets had been brought in to broadcast cricket and Oriya-language programs. At the same time, IJM staff supported the victims and assisted with the government with preparation of the 371 official Release Certificates, which would be presented to each of the adults and children who had been working in bonded labor at the kiln, along with the initial installment of the government rehabilitation funds owed to them. While it often takes months for released laborers to see any of these funds, the money for these laborers had been withdrawn before they had even left the kiln.

By the operation’s third day, a high-ranking government official arrived to hold a special ceremony to celebrate the laborers’ freedom. He assured the laborers that the government would provide not only the required rehabilitation funds, but train transport and accompaniment home. The crowd erupted in cheers and applause; for the first time since they were enslaved, home was truly in sight.

"This is the most impressive display we have seen to date of the government being proactive in combating bonded labor and being sensitive to the needs of the victims," remarked Saju Mathew, IJM South Asia Regional Director. "It is a huge encouragement to work with talented, dedicated officials like these, who clearly demonstrate the potential of the government to lead the charge against bonded labor in India." For the next two days, Kandasamy stood on the platform of the local train station to send off the free children women and men in groups, watching as they boarded train cars that he had ordered to be attached on their behalf. IJM aftercare staff are making plans to ensure the families have the training they need to establish new lives in freedom. They have now returned home – more than 1000 miles from the place where they were enslaved – where they can live in safety.

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