We are Christian – what does this really mean?
SAS Guiding Principle: “The Christian faith teaches that followers of God, through Jesus Christ, are called, among other things, to set the oppressed free. Stand Against Slavery is founded on this principle. We encourage people of all backgrounds and faiths to join in the cause of Stand Against Slavery, however, we want to be clear that we act and pursue justice from a Christian worldview.”
The sacred writings of the Christian tradition, the Bible, have more than 2,000 entries in it about the poor, the marginalised, the vulnerable and the oppressed. It is clear, even at a glance, that the freedom and liberation of the poor were important to God. This is culminated in the conversation Jesus Christ, God’s son, has with his close followers before he is tried and sentenced to death in the book of Matthew.
In Chapter 25 of this book and in verses 31-46 Jesus explains that unless we have helped the least in our society we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. There are other things that God will judge us on including our relationship and commitment to him; our love for our neighbours, and how we have demonstrated that to the world, but helping the least in our society is high on his judgement criteria.
The back-story: God and helping the poor.
Christians believe that God created the earth and everything in it. This includes us as human beings, and he created us in his image. He gave the first human beings, Adam and Eve, freedom to do anything they wanted except one thing. However they disobeyed God (known as sin) and their relationship was broken. Ever since then two things have happened. Firstly, humanity, still with the freedom to choose, has continued to sin, and secondly God has wanted to restore his relationship as it was enjoyed in the beginning. He initially installed a process whereby we could have our sins forgiven by sacrificing (burning on an alter) an animal without defect as a way of saying sorry. There are still many religions in the world today that use this or a variation (e.g. burning incense) to seek forgiveness for our wrong doing or sin, even the small stuff.
Christians believe that over 2,000 years ago God was so saddened by the failure of humanity to be restored that he decided that one sacrifice, above all other sacrifices, would be the only way. It was also a way he could demonstrate to humanity how much he loved and cared for us. He was prepared to pay the ultimate price, to sacrifice his son Jesus for the sins of the world, once and for all time. All of these things were actually predicted in the sacred writings, particularly the Hebrew writings that Christians, Muslims and Jews still refer to and are guided by today.
Before making this ultimate sacrifice, Jesus who became human, helped humanity understand what God is like and why he would make this sacrifice. So Jesus taught those who would listen to him many things. It’s these things that drive Christians to follow Jesus and his teachings. The fact that there are more than 2 billion Christians in the world today serves as a reference point that a third of the planet believe these things to likely be right.
From these teachings we get this idea that one of the things we must do is to help those who are in need, who are vulnerable, who are oppressed. It’s not surprising therefore that many Christians actually help people in this way.
Of course, they are not alone. There are many thousands of people across the globe who are helping others who are in need, including those who are trapped in slavery. They come from all walks of life and beliefs. From those who do not believe in God at all, to those who believe in millions of gods. To those who understand the holy scriptures one way, to those who interpret them in other ways. And of course there are many people who help others who have never really thought much about God at all.
Stand Against Slavery wants to work closely with people from all backgrounds. Because we view those in need from a Christian perspective (or worldview) does not mean that we want to work exclusively among ourselves. On the contrary, the global issue of slavery and human trafficking is something that the whole of humanity must grapple with and eradicate. Stand Against Slavery wants to be part of the answer and work with anyone who believes in our cause and the approach we have chosen to take.
Stand Against Slavery does not want to offend anyone because of its Christian worldview but rather be inclusive. That’s why it’s important for you to know where we come from. This is our background and belief and we totally appreciate your background and belief. We also appreciate that you might not want to work with us, that’s okay and we wish you well in your endeavours to stand against slavery in the world. Who knows we might bump into each other somewhere else along the way.
Peter J Mihaere
Chief Executive Officer
Stand Against Slavery