We have spent this year living in a state of uncertainty, fear and for some people virtual “imprisonment”. For most this was an unusual situation – but sadly for many in our world, imprisonment is their daily reality. A conservative estimate is that there are around 40 million slaves in the world today and the current pandemic has seen those numbers grow day by day.
Our call as Christians is, as the Prophet Isaiah put it, “proclaim liberty to captives” and we are reminded that whatever we do to the lowest and the least of God’s children, we do to Christ Himself.
In 1943, whilst imprisoned at Tegel penitentiary, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote an essay entitled “After Ten Years,” reflecting on his beliefs and experiences in the ten years since Hitler’s meteoric rise, in it he wrote the following appeal:
“We are not Christ, but if we want to be Christians, we must have some share in Christ’s large-heartedness by acting with responsibility and in freedom when the hour of danger comes, and by showing real sympathy that springs, not from fear, but from the liberating and redeeming love of Christ for all who suffer.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer “After Ten Years”
The “freedom” Bonhoeffer speaks of is the freedom we have in the God who has liberated us from our slavery to sin. “For I received from the Lord what I hand on to you.”
Every year a group of students at the University of Aberdeen join a global movement started by a student called Blythe Hill in California in 2013. She committed herself to wearing a dress every day for the month of December and it slowly snowballed from there and became an international campaign against modern day slavery and human trafficking.
The Aberdream Team, as the Aberdeen students are called, including Jamie Campbell, our long-time organist in Tain, are mostly members of a society called JustLove which is dedicated to calling Christians to social justice.
The rules for Dressember are simple – wear a dress (or in Jamie’s case a cassock) every day the whole of December and use social media to educate themselves and others about the slavery and trafficking that affect so many people today. This is not only something that happens far away, but it is going on in every neighbourhood in our country – even in our own communities.
The Aberdream Team target for this year is $6300 (USD because it’s an American fund) – which is the cost of liberating just one person from slavery. The Dressember Foundation acts as a fund that then distributes to 12 approved charities who meet a very strict set of criteria and deal with very specific parts of the freedom process. This goes from the initial multi-agency operation involved in getting the individual out of a trafficking situation, to helping with clothing and accommodation to paying for therapy and other medical support.
To see a breakdown of this, or to meet the Aberdream Team, or to read more about the horrific reality, or to donate you can visit their website at: https://dressember2020.funraise.org/team/aberdream-team