I have been overwhelmed as of late with a burden to pray for those who are enslaved around our world. Some of you may be amazed to think that slavery exists in 2014. I assure you it not only exists in our modern culture but it is big business. Truly humanity has not come nearly so far from our darkness as we would like to believe.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
~ Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV
I have been feeling compelled to pray for the people involved in human trafficking, not just the victims but those who do the buying and selling as well. And then I came across this information regarding St. Nicholas:
Nicholas of Myra (fourth century)
The original “old Saint Nick” who inspired the tradition of Santa Claus, Nicholas was bishop of Myra in fourth century Turkey. Little is known about his life except that he entrusted himself to Jesus at an early age and, when his parents died, gave all of their possessions to the poor. While serving as bishop, Nicholas learned of three girls who were going to be sold into slavery by their father. Moved to use the church’s wealth to ransom the lives of these little ones, he tossed three bags of gold through the family’s window. We remember this ancient Christmas gift, even as we remember that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year in the global sex trade today. http://www.commonprayer.net
Upon reading this excerpt in my prayer book I realized how much deeper the connection of St. Nicholas and Christmas really is. We credit a majority of our gift giving traditions to the Story of Nicholas’s life and ministry. But Nicholas credited his gift giving traditions to the one who gave the first gift of Christmas.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16 NIV
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23 NIV
God sent His Son to set us free from the slavery of sin. Sin that still rages in our world, in our cultures, and even in our hearts!
Where are you bound today?
How can you choose freedom in Christ?
So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. ~ Galatians 4:7 NIV
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ~ Galatians 5:1 NIV
Not only do we need to receive the first gift of Christmas for ourselves it is our duty to pass on this gift of salvation. We must use whatever resources we have been given. We must be an example of Jesus just as Nicholas was.
O Holy Night
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
You’ve got to use the life you’ve been given to give others life.
(Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift, Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, p. 179)
How can you give the true gift of Christmas; freedom in Christ, to a brother this season?
Resources for more information on this topic:
I encourage you to find a ministry to help support women and children enslaved in this trade such as http://www.gozoe.org
For those of you who do not already receive the Blossom Ministries’ newsletters please follow this link to review a devotional I recently wrote regarding human trafficking. http://www.blossomministries.com/Devotional_Thought…html
To read more about the Bishop Nicholas from Myra http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas