It's true - women (and men) are being sold for sex, against their will, in your backyard. Did you see people running around with red "X" marks on their hands on Thursday? This represents the "End it Movement," a conversation started at the 2012 Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, about the estimated 27 million slaves in the world today. People are being trafficked in labor and the sex industry worldwide - but what does that have to do with us (people who haven't been trafficked)? I wasn't sure until I sat down at Caribou Coffee with a girl who told me about how her dad, a deacon at their church and upstanding white-collar businessman, sold her for sex to his friends in the suburbs until she was 18 (read her story at this link).
My heart broke. And I realized, I could have helped stop it. How? By talking about it. Because a culture of silence stifles justice.
So here I am to tell you - someone is being trafficked in YOUR backyard, and you can do something to help end it. Here are three ways:
1. Educate yourself.
Watch a documentary / awareness-raising movie (recent suggestions: Not Today, Half the Sky, Trade of Innocents, Nefarious). Read a book (Half the Sky, The Road of Lost Innocence, Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade~~and How We Can Fight It). Visit nonprofit organization and ministries' websites to learn more (international organizations: The A21 Campaign, International Justice Mission, Not for Sale, the Polaris Project // Chicago organizations: INK180, TraffickFree, West Chicagoland Anti-Trafficking Coalition, Salvation Army PROMISE Program). Also support musicians like Jenny & Tyler, who have committed their lives of creative expression to setting captives free. Their music video at the bottom of this post, Faint Not, is dedicated to the topic of freeing slaves, and proceeds from their most recent album, For Freedom, go toward the fight against human trafficking. If you feel led to donate or join up, jump right in.
2. Put your money where your mouth is.
After you've educated yourself, take action by monetarily supporting local organizations like INK180, (tattoo removals and cover-ups for trafficking victims - read about their founder, Chris Baker, at this link), TraffickFree, West Chicagoland Anti-Trafficking Coalition, and the Salvation Army PROMISE Program to help support ministries doing much-needed work around Chicago specifically. Awareness is important, but action is crucial to success!
Why am I interested in this topic at all? Because after sitting across the table from Brittany in suburban America and listening to her talk about being trapped in sexual abuse and trafficking 10 minutes from my house, I realized Jesus said stories like hers are important - and as a follower of His, I'm called to do something about it (Luke 4:18 / Isaiah 61:1):
"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor."
Nothing is impossible with God.
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