v 36 Meanwhile, the Midianite traders arrived in Egypt, where they sold Joseph to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Potiphar was captain of the palace guard.
Selling people as if they were ‘Things’ is an ancient practice – and it still happens. It is not unknown these days for traffickers to smuggle people into the UK where they are forced to work in sweatshop factories, on farms, in the Sex Trade or as household servants. The statistics quoted yesterday probably underestimate just how widespread and insidious the problem really is. Victims are often frightened to speak up because they fear what the future might then hold for them. It is hard for us to imagine the coercive power of people traffickers.
Put yourself in Joseph’s place in this story. He would have been given a home, shelter and food in exchange for a life of hard work, but also of fearful uncertainty in a foreign land. Escaping … to what … was hardly an option. That is exactly how many 21st century’ slaves’ even in the UK might feel. Why try running away from food and shelter, even if forced labour is hardship? If you have been smuggled from an Asian village and have not a word of English how might you complain and find help? There is an overwhelming sense of despair in such people.
Making contact with these desperate people is the very first problem our own authorities face. Focus prayer today on that kind of situation; there are desperate, lonely and unhappy people in our country. How can friendly contact be made with them in a meaningful way? How sensitive do we have to be to notice their existence among us?