Today the Church Calendar remembers William Wilberforce and antislavery campaigners.
During the “Black lives Matter” campaign we have heard quite a lot about the slavery of previous centuries. We have heard of the protests against colonialists who followed the patterns of the society of their day, in trading slaves, in owning slaves, and in treating them very badly.
Most of them claimed to be Christians. Much of the society of 18th century Britain was built upon profits made by owning slaves in the West Indies.
We know our own story of John Newton who was a slave trader even after his conversion – and we know how God showed him how to change his ways.
I have only just learnt that John Newton influenced William Wilberforce – a devout Christian, to stay in parliament and continue the anti-slave trade campaign, rather than be ordained a clergyman.
William Wilberforce headed a group of men who realised the iniquity of the trade and campaigned tirelessly for, first of all, the cross Atlantic slave trade to be abolished, and then for slaves to be freed from their owners and work as free men, women and children.
Another man who is remembered today is Olaudah Equiano, an African who was a slave but came to London, bought his freedom, became educated, and wrote about his experiences.
The campaigns took a long time, and many whose wealth was based on the sugar and tobacco plantations resisted strongly. They were given compensation by the government – but that is another story.
As a thought for the day, do any of the charities or campaigns you support work for justice for the underprivileged and even for slaves, in our world or our country today?
“Let’s pray that the suffering and exploitation of these vulnerable people will be brought to light and that God will use our churches and communities to ‘set the captives free’.
“Let’s pray for the survivors who have escaped abuse, that God will bind up the broken-hearted and enable them to receive adequate care, love and support.
“Let’s pray for our churches that we will have the courage to go into the darkness to be Christ’s light even when it is costly”‘ World vision