Introduction by Bishop Alastair Redfern, Chair of The Clewer Initiative
Every modern slavery journey is different.
Some people are targeted in their bedrooms in suburbia, others on a busy street in Vietnam or an internet cafe in Albania. Many British victims are approached when they are already struggling with other vulnerabilities such as homelessness or school exclusion. Through coercion, deception and sometimes force, victims are taken from their homes and exploited against their will. Many people are trapped in slavery for years, not knowing who to turn to or trust. Others successfully escape their captors, only to be retargeted and exploited by another criminal gang. Even when someone finds freedom from exploitation, there is significant trauma which means their modern slavery journey never really ends.
Similarly, every volunteer and campaigner has a different story. For some, it is deeply personal. For others, it starts in a professional capacity and moves into the personal. It usually begins with the shocking realisation that slavery is not a thing of the past. Knowledge and awareness leads to action and mobilisation.
In our Lent 2023 course, we try to tell these stories - the stories of victims and volunteers – and we reflect upon how the journey of Jesus to the cross can inspire and inform our action. As we “journey” towards Easter in this devotional resource, our hope is that everyone will take the next step on their modern slavery journey.
How the resource works
Our five week Lent course will draw inspiration from the Stations of the Cross. Each week, we will look at a cluster of three stations and explore some of the central themes that arise from Jesus’ experience. We will also watch a mini film, finding out about a particular victim’s journey as well as the modern slavery journeys of churches and volunteers. We will have time for reflection and prayer – as individuals, groups or congregations. The devotional will include the Gospel reading for each Sunday in Lent.
This is an invitation and an opportunity to journey with victims and volunteers in a way that is honest about the challenges, possibilities and limitations of our endeavours, and yet calls us to trust the power of God’s grace to bring hope, healing and a greater sense of wholeness.
Caring for yourself
This resource is about a subject which is emotive and upsetting. Before you start, think about how you will care for yourself and others. If you are distressed by the subject matter or it has triggered painful memories, we would urge you to share your feelings with others who might understand.