Many people believe that abolishing human trafficking in our generation is impossible. But what if one person can make a significant impact for lasting change? It certainly takes faith. It definitely takes courage. But most importantly, it takes risk. Risk takes you to the edge of the cliff and faith gives you the ability to jump off, knowing that you won’t fall into impending death but instead, fly.
One of the greatest challenges in fighting human trafficking is the challenge of awakening America (or truthfully the world) to this devastating reality. It happens in everyone’s backyard whether you realize it or not. There are local task forces mobilizing and fighting against this grave problem because it is happening in every city. There are great politicians and lawmakers fighting for justice to prosecute pimps and johns. There are effective organizations supporting victims via rescues, safehouses, and transitional homes while bringing greater awareness to the public. We even have noble members of the corporate sector committing to ethical business practices. But before we celebrate too early, there are even more corporations, politicians, and people in general who turn a blind eye to the tragic truth that modern day slavery is more prevalent than ever before.
Why is it such a problem? It’s multi-layered, really. The media’s increasing glorification of sex has bred a generation of desensitized Americans who now create a significant portion of the worldwide demand for human trafficking. Pornography, itself, access to pornography, and the age at which children are first exposed to pornography have all changed drastically since the advent of the internet. The days of seemingly harmless Playboy-like images are long gone and have been replaced by obscene and dehumanizing videos of brutally mistreated (and often under-aged) people engaging in sexual acts. These videos show women, children, and even men, being treated like objects only meant to fulfill one’s sexual desires. They are even portrayed as seeming to enjoy the mistreatment. Children have access to this pornography, literally at their fingertips, at an average age of 12 years old on smartphones, laptops, gaming consoles, etc. They are being conditioned from a very impressionable age, when their minds are developing and bodies are changing, that it is okay to treat a girl/boy like a sexual object. Their minds get infiltrated with distorted fantasies and lust. The porn industry is so disgustingly conniving, knowing that free porn that satisfies today will not satisfy tomorrow. Many people who fall into deep porn addiction seem to develop a tolerance to it, much like a drug addiction. The tolerance effect causes these people to seek stronger and rougher porn to get the same satisfaction. So why is this a problem? People who buy trafficked women, men, and/or children aren’t born overnight. They’ve made very conscious decisions of flirting with fantasy and lust in their minds and hearts that eventually give birth to full blown sin. It starts with small choices. In order to combat human trafficking, we need to get to the root of the issue, which is a heart issue.
Why do people turn a blind eye to this problem? Many people think that human trafficking does not happen in their backyards. They feel very removed from the problem and believe that someone else will take care of it. These people underestimate the power of their own lives. They don’t know that their own voice can speak for the voiceless. These victims are more than a statistic. They truly are someone’s daughter, son, friend, or neighbor. Just last year, a trafficking ring was busted in Irvine, CA (ranked as FBI’s safest city in the country 10 years in a row) in a high-end apartment complex I used to live in a few years back. I had no idea this was going on while I was living there. The fact that the apartment complex was a beautiful gated community made it even more unsuspecting. The madam running the trafficking ring was targeting foreign exchange students with student visas. That ensured her clients a fresh supply of girls every few months as their visas expired and new students were trafficked in. An important fact to note is that people who are trafficked are NOT trafficked by their own will. There is a tremendous amount of brutality, violence, mind control, abuse, trauma, and drugs (to exert control) at play. Does this narrative sound familiar? It certainly happened before in history with the African American slaves. Plantation owners and overseers would exert power, unfathomable abuse, trauma, rape, etc. because they believed slaves were their property. We need to stop dehumanizing people.
How can we make a difference? There are many talents and gifts we have that can contribute to the fight. Do you have time? Money? Special skills (graphic design, IT, finance, teaching, ANYTHING) that can contribute to awareness, prevention, intervention? Love has a cost. God so loved… So He gave. We need to give. We also need to start talking in our churches. Whether the topic is about pornography or some other sin, we should foster a safe platform to share and cover those with the courage to do so. Churches have the incredible ability to mobilize and equip their people to take a stand and make a difference. There should be absolutely no shame or judgment on anyone who seeks help or confesses any sin. It is the Lord’s kindness that leads to repentance.
Let me end with a story:
The Starfish Story:
While walking down the beach, a man saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it in the ocean.
As he came closer, he saw thousands of starfish the tide had thrown onto the beach. Unable to return to the ocean during the low tide, the starfish were dying. He observed a young boy picking up the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the ocean.
After watching the seemingly futile effort, the observer said, “There must be thousands of starfish on this beach. It would be impossible for you to save them all. There are simply too many. You can’t save enough to make a difference.”
The young boy smiled with a starfish in hand and tossed it back into the ocean.
“I made a difference with that one.” he replied.
As many of you know, I have a passion to see modern day slavery end in our generation. To help fight human trafficking, please consider donating (whether it is your time, talents, or finances) to the organization, http://www.27million.com. 27Million is an umbrella organization that networks grassroots movements already fighting on the frontlines on a global level. They raise funds to bless these organizations with their catalytic projects (because unfortunately money and resources are the issue in many cases) and overhead. They provide a platform for these organizations to come together, mutually encourage, pray for, and aid in the fight against human trafficking. There is strength in numbers. Together we can end modern day slavery.