I recently moved. And to those of you who are organized and love packing and unpacking, I will admit, I'm jealous. Moving has been the bane of my existence. It's a lot of work! As I've gotten settled into a new town, unpacked my boxes and put all my knick-knacks away (finally!), I have also been getting to know the area in which I now live. I've learned which grocery store has the best deals, where I can buy my particular flavor of coffee creamer, and have found a church that I've been settling into. I've also learned where not to drive late at night, who the local town gossips are, and that my new hometown of Atlanta has recently been named one of the nationwide hubs for human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. I was shocked, to say the least.
But my shock grew more, when, at first glance, it seemed that most people didn't care (or even know) about this fact. Their seeming callousness rubbed me wrong. Non-Christians, I could cut a little more slack, but Christians? Shouldn't Christians be more concerned and responsive? And what exactly should our response be to modern-day slavery?
I began researching the topic and talking to a few people who worked in ministries like Wellspring Living and Out of Darkness. It quickly became my quest to equip myself to understand how slavery could still exist today. I read the book Sold (which made me sad and sick to my stomach during some parts). I prayed. I listened to Focus on the Family radio interviews on the topic during God-ordained times while I was searching unsuccessfully for Christmas music. But it wasn't until I decided to put on an awareness event based on The A21 Campaign that I actually became encouraged about how God is working in the midst of the largest trade of human slaves in all of history.
God is active. I know this, and you probably know this, but at times—at least to me—it can seem like he is active in theory only. But God is working! He is also powerful and just. Christine Caine, one of the founders of the A21 Campaign, speaks on their website about an instance in which they ran out of money for their rescue mission while in Greece. They prayed, asking God for the men who were exploiting women to instead rescue them, and then for those men to turn themselves in to the local police station. A seemingly impossible prayer—and God answered it! This particular story really excited me. I wanted to see God do amazing things like that in my city! Christine's story reignited a passion in me that I hadn't even realized had dwindled.
As I was still preparing for the awareness event, I was at the hair salon. Flipping through the salon's Glamour magazine, I stumbled across a secular article on trafficking and rescues and I was floored. The topic of trafficking seemed to be everywhere! God was not only making me aware of the issue, but he was also putting resources in my hands.
After talking with several women at my church, I realized they were aware of the topic and concerned about it, but they felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of it. So I began to consolidate and organize a list of action steps that "normal" people can do in the fight against human trafficking.
Being kingdom-minded includes parts of the Christian life that we commonly think of, such as evangelism, intercession, and discipleship. But our call to be the hands and feet of Jesus also means taking part in the physical aspects of Jesus' proclamation of ministry drawn from Isaiah 61: "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed" (see also Luke 4:14–21). This same ministry is the one that we, as Jesus' followers, are privileged to be a part of.
Human trafficking doesn't have a quick fix. On a global scale, laws are being changed and enforced; trafficked victims are being rehabilitated; and the Christian message of hope, healing, and dignity are being taught and lived out. How will you respond? How will you go beyond feeling concerned but overwhelmed?
First, pray about any specific avenues of ministry that you sense God may be calling you to get involved in as your response to this issue. And in addition to praying, here are a few practical action steps you can take.
Volunteer at a local ministry center. There are lots of needs for volunteers! From painting safe-house walls, to talking with the women, to teaching life skills, the needs abound. They will enthusiastically thank you for doing what may seem like just a small part.
Learn the facts. One story featured on Today's Christian Woman noted that a suburban teen was rescued from sex trafficking because her high school basketball coach recognized the signs. See Today's Christian Woman articles, Shared Hope International, and The A21 Campaign's websites to begin.
Pray. Pray for the victims of trafficking. Many of them have physical and emotional illnesses because of what has taken place in their lives. Pray that God would rescue and heal them. Also pray for the traffickers and the abusers, asking that they would come to a realization of the wrong they are doing and repent. Pray for the ministry organizations and the people doing the rescues.
Support local and national laws that protect against trafficking and child sexual exploitation. See Shared Hope International's "Report Cards" for each state to see how your state stacks up. Get involved in local politics to make a difference!
Make others aware. Many people either do not know very much about human trafficking or they feel that the issue is too big and they feel hopeless. But every person's involvement can make a difference. Like a pebble creating a ripple in a pond, we never know what impact our small part may have!
Ginny Hrushka recently moved from Wheaton, Illinois, to the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia. She is anticipating being a part of God's Kingdom work there. Previously, she has done mission work in mainland China and Hong Kong. She loves herbal tea, praying, cherry pie, and a good book.