Introducing guest blogger and abolitionist, Raleigh Sadler:
When you think of NYC, Santa is probably last on your list, even if you check it twice. However, Santa Claus – as we know him- was born in Manhattan. Jeremy Seal, a New York Times contributing author, quotes a Cincinnati Newspaper from 1844 stating that “the sterling old Dutchman, Santa Claus, has just arrived from the renowned region of Manhattan, “with his usual budget of knickknacks for the Christmas times.” Manhattan is where the commercialized Santa Claus originated. The eyes of every child in America were on NYC each year as they eagerly awaited the gifts that Santa had packed onto his sleigh. However as we all know, Santa did not stay in NYC.
The reason that Santa left Manhattan for a more spacious address up north is simple. In the late 19th century, the city was steadily becoming urbanized. With the massive influx of the “tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free” (as Emma Lazarus so eloquently stated in her poem, A New Colossus), Santa was forced to make a decision. Rather than trying to explain to their children that Santa Lived in a tenement house on the lower east side, parents began explaining that the Claus family lived in the North Pole.
To this day, New York is a place where people from every nation find refuge. Currently, there are approximately 800 languages spoken in the greater metro area. As a Christian, I see New York City as a place where one person can actually fulfill the Great Commission. But with this rampant immigration and urbanization comes a sinister side. Not everyone who lives here is here by choice. The vulnerable populations, “the tired, the poor, and the huddle masses” are the very people that are being exploited for the commercial gain of others. The global nature of the urban context invites the scourge of human trafficking.
The Department of Justice reports that JFK airport is one of the top five airports where victims enter the country. One may find a potential victim in any one of the city’s illegal Asian Massage Parlors, or residential brothels. The person that sells you fish in china town or the child that sells you fruit snacks on the subway could be being exploited as well. According to the National Institute of Justice, there are nearly 4,000 children being trafficked at any given time in New York City.
There is not one community in the city that has not been touched by this evil in some way. But there is hope. In every neighborhood where there is suffering, there is a church. My passion is to see the local church rise to the occasion and care for the weak and vulnerable in their midst. The church is a sleeping giant in the fight against exploitation. I believe that God’s plan to end injustice on a global scale in the church and God doesn’t have a plan B.
Yet, before we care for the hurting, we must open our eyes. In other words, we will never be the hands and feet of Christ, unless we are his eyes and ears. We will never attempt to love anyone if we don’t know that they exist.
So that is where I come in. I work with local churches and Christian organizations all over the city to help them develop a strategic plan for caring for the weak and vulnerable. Whether it is through panel discussions, large events, or one on one meetings, I seek to inform, inspire, and equip other Christians to live out their faith in a boldly compassionate way. To learn more about my ministry, please check out my website, www.raleighsadler.com. It’s time that we turn our eyes back to NYC.
Raleigh Sadler is a recognized speaker and human trafficking awareness advocate. As a speaker, his work has taken him to universities and churches across the country speaking on issues of the Gospel and social justice. Having been featured both nationally and internationally, he is seen as an authority in the field of human trafficking abolition. Follow Raleigh on Twitter and visit his website.