Getting in the Game

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The issue of human trafficking is getting a lot of press lately.   Our church held a forum on it just this week.  Our city hosted a “Stop Child Trafficking Now” walk a couple of weekends ago. PBS put out their documentary “Half the Sky” earlier this month to highlight the oppression of women worldwide, many of whom are trafficked for sexual exploitation. And on Sunday, the documentary “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls” gets a free viewing at the UT Union Theater (Sunday at 7:30pm).  I’m seeing more articles, more websites, more books, and more news on this abominable evil.  And I’m overwhelmed by new information like:

  • Approximately 30 million people are enslaved in the world today – as in brutally and often violently exploited for labor and sex against their will and with no way out.
  • 80% of those are women and 50% are children.
  • 2 children per minute are trafficked for sexual slavery worldwide
  • The average age of a child who enters the trafficking market in the United States is 12 years old.
  • In Austin, two trafficking rings have been busted by Austin police in the last two months.  The accused supposedly kidnapped and imported women from other cities in the US and held them in an Austin hotel, forcing them to serve as prostitutes.

And I could go on and on and on.  Once a victim is rescued, the work has hardly begun.  Most trafficking victims come out with nothing on their backs.  They may or may not speak the language.  They probably don’t trust police, especially if corrupt officers have turned the other way or even participated in their abuse. Any identification or passport papers they had were taken away from them.  They probably aren’t educated. They probably don’t have job skills.  They certainly have physical, emotional, and spiritual damage. The task is so huge, the need is so overwhelming I hardly know where to start.  But start somewhere, I must.

Part of my problem is that I haven’t seen God do miracles on the order of magnitude that is required for these victims, so I’m unsure of what will happen.  Not that God hasn’t done such miracles – He surely has.  I just haven’t seen them with my own eyes.  In my relatively sheltered life, I’ve never really needed them. Which means I’ve missed out on some pretty important revelations about the God I serve.

I’m starting to think that I’ve been in the Grand Arena where amazing things are happening on the field of battle. Where I’m rooting for God’s team, of course. I even have the team jersey on along with the face paint and the big foam finger.  But instead of even watching the game – let alone getting on the field – I’ve been content to hang out at the concession stand eating funnel cake.  It’s a good time, to be sure. And I know some exciting things are going on in the center of the Arena – I can hear the cheers and gasps of the great cloud of witnesses.  But I haven’t actually gone out there to see what’s going on.  And I haven’t ventured to the sidelines or asked the Coach to put me in.  So I have no idea how the Coach works these things out – I haven’t seen Him in action like that.  Know what I mean?

And in this Grand Arena, the stakes are much higher than a win at the end of the day or a trophy.  We’re talking about human lives made in the image of God. Sure, getting in the game may mean that I take a hit or two, maybe get injured and bruised.  But God has promised that I will not be destroyed and He will be with me.  Why am I afraid to leave my funnel cake at the stand and walk through the tunnels onto the field?

So I’m bucking up my courage, feeble as it is, and I’ve decided to take those first steps, even though I haven’t a clue yet how to play the game. I’ve only learned a few basics so far. But I’m excited to see what God is already doing on behalf of the oppressed in my city and my world. And I’m hoping He’ll see fit to make me a part of it.

Would you join me? As I’ve prayed and learned, I’ve come up with a few things that all of us can do to chip away at the structures that hold up the human trafficking problem.  Here are a few very practical ways you can get started:

  • Pray. Ask God to bring this problem to the light so that it can be dealt with by qualified and caring people.  You might also pray that God would make you such a person.  Pray for those already engaged on the front lines and for those caring for former victims.
  • Make smart consumer choices.  We can leverage our economic power and pressure companies to make sure their supply lines are slave-free.  You can download the free app “Free2Work” for your smart phone and scan the bar codes of products you buy to find out how their companies are doing on this issue.
  • Learn.  Check out websites like Not For Sale, International Justice Mission, and Restore A Voice.  Read a book such as A Crime So Monstrous by E. Benjamin Skinner, or Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen.  Get the facts and see where God leads your heart.
  • Stay up to date on what FEFC folks are doing.  We have a brand new e-mailing list with updates on local activities.  You can join just by letting me know you want on the list.

There’s so much to do.  More than any one of us or any small group of us could handle.  But if we get out there and do something, we have the opportunity to see God do something, too.