Human Trafficking consultation (Communique and biblical reflection)

The All Africa Conference of Churches ended a consultation a few days ago on the issue of Human Trafficking. They have written a Communique by Faith Leaders on Human Trafficking in Africa and sent this Biblical Reflection by Rev Dr Simon Dossou:



Biblical reflection by Rev. Dr. Simon Dossou

This biblical reflection is based on Genesis 37: 26-36. What we can draw from this message are the following main elements:

The theme is:"How are you dealing with your brother or your sister?"

When we pray to God as our common Father, in spite of our diversities, we affirm that we are brothers and sisters.

  1. 1.     The context of the story

According to the text, Joseph was 17 years old when his father associated him with the work of a shepherd. He was a teenager, to whom the work of on adult was requested. But before the occurrence of the sad event, there were some telltale signs, his father should have been watchful about. The text mentions some signs, such as:

a)     Joseph's brothers were jealous of Joseph, who was particularly loved by his father.

b)    Joseph used to report to his father Jacob what his brothers said.

c)     His visionary dreams only increased their jealousy towards him.

In that atmosphere of hatred, Jacob dares sending Joseph to his brothers, even if he is doing it genuinely. Unfortunately, the occasion was appropriate for the jealous brothers to get rid of him and they had the following options:

a)      Let's kill him and throw him in a cistern and thus kill his dreams.

b)      Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, had mercy on him and looked for alternatives to rescue him.

c)      The other brothers stripped him of his robe and threw him in a cistern that was empty.

d)      During their meal, a caravan of Ishmaelites was heading towards Egypt. Juda (who is not the Iscariot one) suggested selling him, because he was their brother, their flesh.

The deal is sealed and Joseph is sold to the descendants of Ishmael for 20 shekels, the equivalent of about 20 dollars, slightly more than the price received for Jesus 20 centuries later by another Judas.

  1. 2.     Joseph, as well as our brothers and sisters, subject to human trafficking.

Let's remember the basis of the trafficking of one of the most important characters in biblical history, Joseph, and let's have the courage to ask ourselves some questions:

a)      Do we not fall into the mistakes of "double standards", which are the root cause of what happened to Joseph? How do we treat the youth in our religious communities? Do we show them our availability to treat them fairly and equitably, as long as it depends on us? Joseph's brothers were angry against him. Why does Dad Jacob act as if everything was fine?

b)      The plot against Joseph is conceived by his brothers who sold him, thus exposing him to potential death, except that he would not die in front of them. "How are you dealing with your brother or your sister, when he is faced with danger of death?" How much do we sell our brothers and sisters (even through our words) to people passing by, who deal with them as they please and we don't bother to know what would happen to them? In Joseph's case, God was generous to make of him a great man later in life. But do we know how many of our brothers and sisters are sold or killed because of their organs? Do we know how many of the people we contribute money for, for them to be able to go out of Africa, become prostitutes and delinquents? Fortunately, a lot of them, just like Joseph, are able to make it, by God's grace. But does the fate of the others not challenge us?

May Joseph's situation trigger our communities to take charge in the prevention of situations which can lead our brothers and sisters to go sell themselves for the sake of dreams, which can later turn into nightmares.

May the God of life preserve us from these kinds of situation, so that we can become agents who fight seriously against human trafficking in all its forms.


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