by Luke Stewart
Last Wednesday my day looked a bit different from normal as I headed into London to be part of the team handing in the STAND petition! After lots of planning for the festivals, swatting up on the issue and signature collecting the day had arrived for us to actually deliver it. All of the work put into the campaign had led to this opportunity: that we might show those in authority just how many people are passionate about seeing freedom brought to those in slavery.
As part of the team involved in collecting signatures I found that the reality of slavery and what we were trying to do at times felt quite distant because of the sheer number of people you spoke to about it- I’m pretty sure that by the end of Soul Survivor I could’ve recited the asks of our petition in my sleep! So getting to go to the Home Office and seeing how all of the signatures collected could make a real impact on the lives of real people was pretty exciting.
It reminded me that although one signature feels like a very small stand to take, when we stand together that signature has a world of significance. Without each individual choosing to make their own contribution towards the petition, using their freedom and their voice to say slavery needs to stop, we wouldn’t have had a petition at all. I’m encouraged that as small as the little actions we take daily trying to serve Jesus and seek justice might seem, their impact is bigger than we might think.
It was an absolutely mad, non-stop day and the meeting itself felt like it went by very quickly, which felt bizarre considering the hours and hours that had been put in to collecting the signatures, but that was all that was really needed. I realise now that whilst handing the petition over to somebody who can make very big decisions in government was massive, the most important part of any of the process took place as we collected the signatures. Raising awareness of the huge injustice of modern day slavery amongst thousands of young people was an absolute privilege and it was through these people who made the choice to sign that we were able to stand up and say ‘look at how many people care about this’.
My prayer is that the petition goes on to make an impact and that it would encourage to government to act on the modern slavery bill sooner rather than later. Isn’t it amazing that we can be part of something which will help identify slaves, prosecute traffickers and potentially save lives? And if we can make a difference like that just by taking a minute sign a petition imagine the impact we can make when as the church we stand up and do even more to tackle injustice! Delivering the petition is an achievement everyone who signed can be proud of, but let’s not let it be the end. Let’s keep pursuing justice in the UK and use our freedom to bring change!