Revd Gemma Sampson; curate in Hartlepool, and Diocesan Lead for the response to Modern Day Slavery in the Diocese of Durham talks about her latest tattoo, an inked reminder of her commitment to end modern slavery.
On a recent trip to the USA, I added to my tattoo collection (I’ve never been one for traditional souvenirs!). This one shows the image of an open bird cage, with three birds flying out of the cage to freedom, with the words ‘Break the bonds of injustice – let the oppressed go free’ circling it. This quote, from Isaiah 58, has long motivated my fight for an end to modern slavery, the rescue of those who are trafficked and held captive, and the freeing of all who are oppressed. The image also echoes the cry of the Psalmist in Psalm 124:7, which states ‘we have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare is broken and we are set free’. Slavery, injustice, oppression, entrapment - all have no place in the Kingdom of God. In God’s Kingdom, the snare is already broken and freedom is ours.
But I learned so much more, during the process of being branded with these truths. Firstly, it hurt. A lot. And that is right, and proper, I think. It really does hurt to work tirelessly to break those bonds of injustice. It is painful to fight for freedom for those who are oppressed. Escaping from fowler’s snares is not for the fainthearted.
It also took time; the tattooing took two, long hours, and the healing is still ongoing, nearly two weeks later. And isn’t that the truth too? Ending slavery doesn’t happen by lunchtime. Yes, the freedom is already ours; the snare is already broken; but walking that journey to break the bonds of injustice and to reach full healing takes time.
Thanks be to God that true freedom and total healing is fully available in and through God. May we never tire of being the ones to bring this truth to fruition.
You can read an interview with Revd Gemma and hear more about how she is ending modern slavery in the Diocese of Durham here.