By Christine MacMillan, World Evangelical Alliance
John 4:9 “The woman was surprised for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a Woman of Samaria?”
As I Chair the World Evangelical Task Force on Human Trafficking, I find myself asking the question: what is human about trafficking? And then it resonates – for trafficking is very much human. It conscripts humans regardless of race, lifestyle, age and gender. It is full of surprises when its victims and those becoming aware of its horror unravel personal stories when given the opportunity. Jesus was not afraid to find his footsteps on messy ground. He risks his reputation by engaging with a woman from Samaria perceived known for her questionable relationship history. He was interested in her story only silenced by living on the margins.
The nature of relationships covers a vast realm of considerations. You are reaching out in one moment and then becoming aware of your vulnerability in the next. Is Jesus at risk? Is the woman at risk? Human trafficking goes beyond statistics of victims. It goes beyond a headline that reads: “Children sold like cabbages”. As cabbages once devoured are finished. Victims of human trafficking viewed as profitable commodities can be devoured again and again and their story is never ending.
Captivity is rarely under question by users. And yet, a surprise question from Jesus: “Can you give me a drink”? Interest from Jesus starts from a point of what another can give.
The scene of Jesus and the woman is inching closer with respect. Not the usual judgment call or pointed finger. It causes a woman from Samaria to ask why someone different from her would ask her for a drink.
Integral mission is not limited to one sided giving. It has the integrity to see value from both sides. When the question in Micah is posed: “What does the Lord require of you?”, can we be asking that of ourselves and the “other” at the same time. Our giving is reciprocated when we leave ourselves open to receive from unexpected sources.
The nature of organizational relationships can often be tempted to be on the lookout for its own unlimited resources. If resources are limited, we sense our mission is under threat. We become concerned about our own survival and do everything under our control to attract resources to our particular ministry only. We brand our cups of water as success stories of our own accomplishments.
Coming back to the question what is human about trafficking poses a deep search. Trafficking victims are relegated to a one -sided giving of themselves that holds little surprises in their endless activities of being used. The water they drink is polluted. They are trafficked in streams of dead water.
Resources found in the practice of integral mission are purified gifts that respect with integrity our need to both give and receive. In the midst of pollution Jesus loves to tread in the mess of contamination. He stops to hear our story with the intention there is more for us to give. We who are in the Micah movement are learning to adopt listening patterns of mutuality on what the Lord requires. It is then there is enough water to go around.