Download the TMUMC App for iPhone or Android to receive daily devotionals, tips, and educational resources on human trafficking throughout Lent. Make a donation to International Justice Mission at TMUMC.ORG/humanity.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6
The Scriptures tell us that righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne (Psalm 89:14). But when we see families held in slavery, vulnerable girls sexually assaulted, widows forced from their homes, innocent men and women in prison—the very foundation by which God established right order and governance appears shaken. The forces of evil in the world threaten to mock the living God, saying “Where is your God? Where is His justice?” But, throughout the Psalms, God declares that:
- He will not be mocked (Psalm 37)
- He will rule the nations with justice (Psalm 67)
- He will hear the cries of the oppressed (Psalm 12)
- He will arise to bring rescue and justice to the poor (Psalm 72)
It is because of these promises we can be so steadfast in our hunger and thirst for righteousness. We know God will indeed move on behalf of the oppressed if we ask, and ask relentlessly.
So here we must evaluate the way we live and pray. Are we striving for righteousness? Are we merely asking for justice or truly aching for it? Does our hunger bring us to our knees? If we did hunger in this way—with such desperation that all we could do is pray—how might our world be filled with God’s unshakable justice?
SOUTH ASIA – The birth of a child should always be a beautiful moment, but for women around the world living in slavery, pregnancy and childbirth can be a time of immense fear, pain and desperation.
After Thaiyamma married Devendran, the love of her life, they had a beautiful daughter named Lavanya. They had a job building roads, but when their daughter fell ill, they took a small loan of about
$15 from the owner of a wood-cutting facility to help pay for the treatment.
They soon began working at the facility thinking they could pay off the debt with their daily wages. What they thought was a good job quickly turned into a life of abuse.
For just $15, this cruel man gained complete control over every aspect of their lives.
They were slaves.
Their master was a man they called “The Beast” and under his watch, Thaiyamma was simply unable to provide everything her infant daughter needed.
I can only imagine how they felt when they began their day early in the morning, working in the hot Indian sun until late at night in a cycle of violence designed to crush them.
The Beast would threaten to hurt or kill them if they ever tried to leave, so Thaiyamma would make a makeshift hammock out of an old sari for little Lavanya and keep her nearby all day. Many days, they were only able to feed their daughter one meal of rice or porridge.
Whenever it rained, Thaiyamma would run with Lavanya to nearby villages and look for shelter until the rain stopped. But every time she did this, The Beast would beat her husband.
It seemed like everything they did brought out the wrath of The Beast. They labored, starved, and were beaten. They were forced to sleep on the ground like animals. Day after day. Week after week. Life’s only purpose was survival.
Then Thaiyamma realized she was pregnant.
Every day of Thaiyamma’s life in slavery was a tremendous act of courage. But as a pregnant mother, she knew that courage alone wasn’t enough. To make sure her baby survived, she needed to be free. As her belly grew, so did the intensity of the work. Forced to cut trees and branches by hand all day long, she wasn’t allowed to sit down or rest. Devendran, through his tears, came alongside Thaiyamma and encouraged her, giving her the strength to endure another day.
All the while, it became clear that both her unborn child and little Lavanya would likely grow up to be slaves if they didn’t find a way out.
But Thaiyamma found an advocate
When we heard about Thaiyamma and went to investigate the facility, more than two years had passed since she was enslaved. Little Lavanya was no longer a baby in a makeshift cradle, but a toddler walking around and learning to speak.
Thaiyamma was just days away from delivering her second child, and many of the other slaves who had been silenced for years were terrified of
what would happen if they spoke against The Beast.
Tired, in pain and desperate for freedom, Thaiyamma harnessed all of her strength to rally men and women at the facility to speak up and tell the truth to the authorities. Then she stood in front of everyone, looked investigators in the eye and spoke boldly.
At the end of the day, Thaiyamma, Devendran, Lavanya and 12 others at the facility were free. The Beast was arrested.
For the first time in six months, she felt joy as the baby leapt in her womb, saying, “I think our baby also got the glimpse of freedom and he’s moving.”
Thaiyamma’s baby boy was born in freedom just a few days after the rescue operation. As she held her baby for the first time, Thaiyamma said she looked down at him in awe, and whispered, “I never knew I was going to see you. I never knew that I would meet you in freedom, and here you are.”
- Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? What has this looked like in your life?
- Why does God care so much about justice, and why does God’s plan for justice include using us, God's people, instead of doing it alone? Read Mark 16:15, Hebrews 13:3 and Matthew 25:35-45.
- How did God use Thaiyamma to bring hope and inspiration to others?
- Read Isaiah 1:17. What does that mean for your day-to-day life?
- Pray for us to truly hunger and thirst after righteousness even as evil mocks our efforts.
- Pray for the church to achingly pray for God’s righteousness to be revealed in the world.
- Pray for those who are enslaved to be set free, and for those like Thaiyamma, who are adjusting to new lives in freedom.