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Bob and I attended a conference Saturday morning in New Orleans that was designed to raise awareness of the human trafficking problems in the United States. My daughter is involved in this ministry in New Orleans, so I thought I understood the problems of human trafficking through our conversations. Not so! I learned alot in the conference.

  1. I learned that women and children (and to a smaller number young boys and men) are being pulled into slavery to drug sellers and sex pushers through intimidation and threats. Some are even sold into slavery by a parent who needs the money or by being orphaned.
  2. I learned that human trafficking is real and flourishing in the United States, even though it's seldom given any press.
  3. I learned that in almost every case, those who are in the sex industry especially should be seen as victims instead of labeled with names like prostitutes.
  4. I learned that most every city in the U.S. has problems with human trafficking.
  5. I learned that Christians, sometimes through their churches and sometimes by themselves, are making a difference by educating children, building self-esteem to offset the promises of those who would lie to them, and building relationships with those in the industries to help them know about God's grace.

The movie Amazing Grace tells the story of William Wilberforce, a conservative, evangelical Christian, who used his position in parliament to help bring about the abolition of slavery in 18th century England. I can't help but wonder if this is a time for Christians to step up in numbers to help abolish this form of slavery as well.

 

Please, tell me what you think. How should we as Christians respond to this treatment of those who can't respond themselves? What's being done in your community to eradicate this form of slavery? Is your church involved? Should the church be involved?

 

I walked away from that conference with so many questions . . . I would love to hear your thoughts!!

 

Margie Williamson

Community Manager

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Comment by Margie Williamson on March 15, 2011 at 2:21pm

Thanks for the responses and resources and I pray for more. My daughter is involved in two ministries in New Orleans. They started InWard to reach women in the sex industry in New Orleans, especially on Burbon Street. They have started a second ministry called One to emphasize what one person can do. There are plenty of other organizations working hard. I'm thrilled to hear that some on our own network are involved. 

 

When I can find my notes from the meeting, I'll add a couple of resources as well!

Comment by John Nielsen on March 15, 2011 at 1:43pm
I am blessed and encouraged to read this post and the comments. It further confirms to me that I am on the right track as I participate in the launch of a new ministry: Justice For Youth. Having worked for over 20 years in different parts of the world, focusing on youth related ministry, I have long believed that  God has called young people the to carry the torch of righteousness for the next generation--and yet in every generation they a primary target of the evil one. No coincidence. I was inspired years ago by Winkie Pratney's book "Devil Take The Youngest," and would recommend it here. I believe we are experiencing an awakening in the this whole area of human trafficking. It is exciting. May we see many more ministries created to address the crisis at every level. Our blog-site will be up and running soon. Come by and share your comments  : Justice for Youth
Comment by Bonnie Bautz on March 15, 2011 at 12:59pm

I've been combating trafficking in some form or another since I first learned about it 8 years ago.  What amazes me is just when I think I've heard almost every form of depravity human beings will inflict on other human beings, I learn of a new one.  The latest story I heard was of a boy, about 8 or 9, found curled up in a trash can in Cambodia.  His traffickers had used paralytic drugs, crippling him purposely to put him on a street to beg.  People are horrified - justly - by what they hear regarding the sex trade but the fact is, labor trafficking comprises 60% of the human trafficking that exists.  Usually, sexual abuse/trafficking goes hand in hand with that (buy a child, enslave her as a domestic and hey..if the man of the house rapes her 30 times a week, what difference does it make - she's his property...).  There isn't a town or city on the planet left unaffected by trafficking in some form.  There are so many good, strong Christian organizations (IJM, Shared Hope just to name two) doing everything they can to fight the problem.  It's a $32 billion dollar a year industry, though...where there is money, greed will go to great lengths to get its hands on it.  You wonder how Christians can respond to this crisis and my answer to you would be to start by doing what you're doing, tell people.  What an awesome thing it is that you add your voice to this horror and state it for what it is - disgusting, criminal & needs to be eradicated.  It's amazing, though, how many people still haven't heard - or completely understand - the magnitude of the problem.  Then, and it sounds trite but, donating funds to those organizations in the battle (research first, though - the two I mentioned earlier are great avenues for that) goes a long way.  It takes money to educate law enforcement and emergency personnel (doctors, nurses, dentists...), to rescue victims and to restore those victims and to educate those who would become victims.  Find groups in your area - or start one - to focus on awareness or perhaps lobby your local government for better laws (12 year olds are not protstitutes - they're victims).  Educate yourself on how to recognize victims and call the National Hotline when you think you might have come across someone (1-888-3737-888).  The Hotline is anonymous and they contact the groups in the area reported to investigate.  The problem is big but our God is huge.  He speaks to justice, how we are to treat the oppressed, the fatherless, the widow, etc. a very large number of times in the Bible.  My life verses, Proverbs 31:8-9 just to name two.  Trust in Him, ask Him to show you what He wants you to do.  And trust Him to equip you.  I am sorry my comment is so long but this is the one thing I am most passionate about.  Slavery needs to end.  It has been outlawed in every country, it is illegal everywhere yet...27 million people are enslaved.  Several hundred thousand of them here in America and that number is an estimate only, most believe it's conservative.  That can feel so overwhelming yet...each rescued victim is a major victory.

Comment by Linda P. Strawn on March 15, 2011 at 12:13pm
I live about 1.5 hours north of Atlanta, the nation's largest hub for child sex trade(CSEC commerical sexual exploitation of children).  As a believing community, this is appalling.  One of the reasons is because ATL airport is the largest and so many men fly in daily just to exploit children sexually.  Community leaders have organized and we're trying to stop it on several fronts.  We've lobbied for better laws with mixed success.  Even a 10 yr girl caught in prostitution is charged with a crime, not given help, a slap on wrist to the john... the girl is not given opportunity to escape her prison.   My church 12Stone Lawrenceville, GA has actively supported this cause with money, people, hosting the screening of the film, volunteers, etc.  Here are some contacts and things we are doing to stop this locally.         StreetGRACE      Stop the Candy Shop       There is only so much we can do to stop the demand, but we don't have to sit on our hands while our daughters are fed to these sickos.  We should be ashamed to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear.   I hope these contacts foster a good discussion and actions folks around the country can emulate.

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