Nazarene churches will join with congregations around the world 24 September to participate in Freedom Sunday, a day set aside for worship and prayer around the issue of human trafficking.
This year, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries has partnered with the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST) and Stop the Traffik to create a Freedom Sunday worship resource guide for churches to use. NCM is a member organization of FAAST, which is a strategic alliance of Christian organizations working together to combat slavery and human trafficking. Stop the Traffik, a global anti-trafficking advocacy organization, has been producing a Freedom Sunday guide for churches in the United Kingdom. This year, FAAST and Stop the Traffik partnered to create a new resource geared toward evangelical churches. NCM was the lead FAAST member in the creation of the new resource guide.
Since 2014, more than 400 local Nazarene churches have participated in a Freedom Sunday. The Church of the Nazarene’s participation began in coordination with other Wesleyan-Holiness denominations as part of the Wesleyan Holiness Connection. In the same year, the Church of the Nazarene's Board of General Superintendents endorsed a Declaration for Freedom — a document drafted by Wesleyan-Holiness leaders, including Carla Sunberg, who was elected as a general superintendent in June.
Over the three years, churches have taken up a “freedom offering” to support anti-trafficking work led by Nazarene churches. NCM has used those gifts to support the opening of new ministries, including drop-in centers in Mumbai, a mobile intervention clinic in Moldova, small business development for at-risk girls, and church-based prevention.
The Mumbai drop-in ministry, which was started by the Sharon Bethel Church of the Nazarene in December 2016, is called Jivan Asha, which means “Hope of Life.” Through two Jivan Asha centers, 75 children have gained a safe space for education, nutrition, recreation, psycho-social support, and spiritual nurturing. The centers have also reached out to 150 women in prostitution to provide counseling, life skills training, vocational training, medical referrals, and spiritual care. Through the ministry, the church has identified 65 women who are open to new alternatives, and they are working with several women on a path to leaving the brothels.
This year’s freedom offering will be used to support the birth of new church-led anti-trafficking ministries as well as the continuation of ongoing work.
Freedom Sunday is planned for 24 September, but congregations are encouraged to plan a Freedom Sunday at any time that works in their calendar. Freedom Sunday planning resources are available as free downloads through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries at ncm.org/freedomsunday.