You are a seven-year old girl and your uncle offers to give your folks a weekend off by taking you to his place. A trusted family friend turns out to have unsavory motives and you are sold into the slavery industry in Asia, but it stretches all over the modern world. You are transported with forty-nine other girls in a steel cell, within a tanker sailing for Europe…malnourished, poor sanitation, lousy ventilation. Upon arrival, the cage opens and eleven of your traveling companions are found dead and thrown overboard to a watery grave. The rest of you are sold as slaves into a life of forced bondage and abuse, robbed of your innocence, identity, and purity, prey for adults who will use and exploit you for their enjoyment, with no one to rescue you.
Human trafficking is defined as the movement of individuals, with the primary purpose of forced servitude or sexual slavery. Today, there is an estimated 27 MILLION people held in slavery, and most of these victims are NEVER rescued. Trafficking in women is the second largest global organized crime, and in some cases girls are forced to service dozens of men a day.
A million of anything is only a number until you can bring it closer to home. I attended a leadership event called Catalyst in Atlanta recently where I heard from a young lady sold into slavery who later was rescued. Her story was jarring to me as I heard of her captivity, abuse, and pain. She appeared in Oprah a while back to bring the reality of human trafficking to mainstream America. A million is only a statistic until you meet one. Yet it happened on our watch. I was forced to hear the question: Are we simply doing church today, or can we be the church? Are we suffering from PDS [Passion Deficiency Syndrome] about the mission of the church in the world today? Can we find some darkness to shine in? Or is all about our comfort until Jesus returns?
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the issue of human trafficking and think we cannot make a difference. As Christians (and catalysts), we have a responsibility to resolve issues of injustice that make for a better tomorrow. That is part of our stewardship. We must lead on these issues and engage those inside and outside the church to respond. We must inspire hope by doing good. We need to be involved in the common good in an uncommon way. How will you respond?
The first opportunity each of us has at our disposal is the most powerful weapon all – the privilege of praying to God Almighty. Pray for the victims [strength, salvation, protection, freedom, hope, healing], for the traffickers [conviction, repentance, salvation, arrest and prosecution], for governments [corruption to cease, just legislation and crime fighting alliances], against root causes [poverty, greed, prejudice], and for global awareness inside and outside the church (reality check, strategies, action, advocates, unity].
The Boston Globe reported on 10-10-10 that a child prostitution ring was broken up in Boston recently. Human trafficking is taking place even in the USA…on our watch. Check out http://www.streetgrace.org for how churches and people in Atlanta are responding to this injustice in their area. Visit http://stopthecandyshop.com to learn about a motion picture about the issue.
Here are four organizations working on the issue of modern day slavery: Not For Sale – http://www.notforsalecampaign.org; International Justice Mission – http://www.ijm.org; The A21 Campaign – http://www.thea21campaign.org; and the Tronic Foundation – http://www.tronicfoundation.org. Read Luke 10 and be the Good Samaritan. Live communally. Partner up. Choose one project. Get involved. Lobby politicians. Work the web. Stay alert. Let’s abolish injustice in the 21st century.
Love is a verb,