Rise up, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed.  (Psalm 10:12)

“Human trafficking is a modern-day slave trade. It violates human rights and exploits innocent people” ( Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, president, sixty-first session, U.N. General Assembly.)

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 The pastor on Sunday, May11th, Rev. Jim Neumann, called for the congregation of Second Presbyterian Church in Saginaw to be engaged in learning more about the 32 billion dollar industry of HUMAN TRAFFICKING.  In light of all recent news about the teenage girls taken in Nigeria, we are called to be aware of the fact this is also an issue for those of us who live in this country and in Michigan.

Over the last decade, numerous human trafficking cases have been prosecuted in Michigan. The court dockets detail the horror stories: Children being sold for sex at truck stops, servants held in captivity and forced to clean for free, and women forced into the sex industry, forfeiting their earnings.[1]   

And this story in this same publication illustrates how close to home this this situation has become:

Jean Claude Toviave, a former University of Michigan janitor and part-time tennis instructor, is federally charged with trying to pass off four African immigrants as his own children, giving them fake names and birth dates to sneak them over in 2006. Documents accuse him of abusing them for years in his Ypsilanti home, which he got through Habitat for Humanity, and forcing them to do housework.


His so-called children told authorities they were deprived of food and beaten with broom handles, a plunger, electrical cords and an ice scraper when they didn’t finish chores or homework. They detailed the years of abuse in journals, which police confiscated, and said Toviave threatened them if they tried to leave.


The “children” weren’t a big secret. Prosecutors say he enrolled the three youngest — 21, 20 and 15 — in a public middle school.


 The students reported the abuse to counselors, triggering an investigation.


Toviave, 42, was arrested in May and is behind bars on human trafficking and forced labor charges.


What can we do?   We can study and learn all we can about this issue!   We prayerfully discern what we can do as advocates/activists for change.  I would also suggest sharing the stories we hear.  We must pray!   

For those in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) family, I would also commend to your study and reflection numeroius resources—many provided by Presbyterian Women .[2]

Prayer:[3]   Pray Psalm 10 in light of the plight of the millions of modern day slaves.


Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? 2 In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor– let them be caught in the schemes they have devised. 3 For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart, those greedy for gain curse and renounce the LORD. 4 In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, “God will not seek it out”; all their thoughts are, “There is no God.” 5 Their ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of their sight; as for their foes, they scoff at them. 6 They think in their heart, “We shall not be moved; throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity.” 7 Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under their tongues are mischief and iniquity. 8 They sit in ambush in the villages; in hiding places they murder the innocent. Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; 9 they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert; they lurk that they may seize the poor; they seize the poor and drag them off in their net. 10 They stoop, they crouch, and the helpless fall by their might. 11 They think in their heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” 12 Rise up, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed. 13 Why do the wicked renounce God, and say in their hearts, “You will not call us to account”? 14 But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan. 15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers; seek out their wickedness until you find none. 16 The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land. 17 O LORD, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear 18 to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more.



[3]   Ibid