Human trafficking is one the biggest human rights issues of our day. More than 20 million people are currently enslaved. This is more than at the time of transatlantic slave trade. The numbers are staggering. Women, men, girls, and boys are being bought and sold as commodities throughout our world.
Individuals are trafficked for forced labor, domestic work, and sexual exploitation. Those who have been trafficked for labor or domestic work many times suffer sexual exploitation by their employers. Those at risk of trafficking are typically at the margins of society with little hope.
There are stories like that of Carrie. She was trafficked by her neighbor, who learned of her prior sexual abuse and exploited her. Because of her family’s poverty and father’s abuse, she was never allowed to attend school. Authorities were notified when she was seen going into a hotel room with foreign men. Carrie was 13 years old when she was rescued. Carrie is also the sole contestant in the case against her trafficker, although the foreign men were never prosecuted.
How can I help?
When we encounter this kind of brokenness of our world, we face two very different temptations. First, we become so overwhelmed that we look away. We would rather continue to walk through life as if there is nothing wrong. When confronted with numbers and stories of this magnitude, the response given most often is, “What can I do? Surely there’s someone else that’s more qualified.”
1. Learn about the issue
The first place we must start is to explore the issue. With the great resources of the internet, we have an unbelievable opportunity to find out as much as we can about this issue. We can connect with the stories of restoration, learn the signs of who might be at risk, and even find out how our lifestyles are contributing to the issue. There are books to read and laws to understand. There are so many ways this issue can and must be explored.
But there’s a second temptation that we can face as well. Sometimes we’re tempted to dive right in. I think we can all be guilty of thinking, “I can fix this, I can handle this, I can do something about this.” But it’s so important to recognize that we can’t give into this kind of temptation—to think we are the solution.
2. Pray with a Christ-like heart
Once we’ve explored the brokenness of human trafficking, it should drive us to our knees in prayer. It should lead us to express our passion, to express our anguish before God.
What does this kind of prayer look like? I believe it involves several elements: praise, thanksgiving, repentance, specific requests, and commitment. We need to understand that if anything is going to happen about the brokenness of this world, it’s only going to happen because God shows up, because God has his hands in it. We must be a people of prayer.
Amy Carmichael, a missionary who helped to save many children’s lives in India, communicates this idea so beautifully: “There were days when the sky turned black for me because of what I heard and knew was true. Sometimes it was as if I saw the Lord Jesus Christ kneeling alone, as he knelt long ago under the olive trees. And the only thing that one who cared could do was to go softly and kneel down beside him, so that he would not be alone in his sorrow over the little children…. And I knew that this was His burden, not mine. It was He who was asking me to share it with Him, not I who was asking Him to share it with me. After that there was only one thing to do: who that saw Him kneeling there could turn away and forget? Who could have done anything but go into the garden and kneel down beside Him under the olive trees?”
In these words Carmichael expresses how she shared in the agony of Christ because of the brokenness around her. The brokenness of our world grieves the heart of God and it should grieve our hearts as well. But don’t feel overwhelmed, because Christ will carry those burdens when you walk alongside Him.
3. Invest your gifts, passions, and resources
Sometimes the way God chooses to accomplish his purpose is to use us as we invest what he has entrusted to us. We’ve all been entrusted with gifts, passion and resources, however great or small. God can use these things if we will let Him. It may not be that any one of us is called to rescue girls or prosecute traffickers, but all of us are called to invest something of ourselves in God’s mission to rebuild the broken places around us.
A year ago my family stood in front of the beautiful Westminster Abby. You know the one—where William and Kate were married. That day there was another wedding occurring. As we looked on eagerly to catch a glimpse of the bride, the attendants were quick to make sure we stayed behind the large gates.
At the same time my little girl became enamored with what was happening. She started to climb the gate in hopes to catch a glimpse of the “pretty” lady. She so desperately wanted to be a part of what was going on. But we lacked one crucial thing: an invitation.
However, we all have been invited to be a part of God’s plan—His plan to help rebuild what has been broken. None of us is too small or insignificant.
God wants us to be a part of rebuilding what is broken, He’s saying we all have something to offer and, in fact, we must offer what we have to Him and to His world. I love the way the New Testament scholar N.T. Wright puts it when he says, “The point of the resurrection…is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die… What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it… What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God's future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it…). They are part of what we may call building for God's kingdom.”
We all are given opportunities every day to either lean in or step away from the thing God has put in front of us. Whether it’s your brokenness or the brokenness of the world, are you willing to love courageously? We must not be afraid to lean in to what God is calling us to do. Let us remember 1 Corinthians 2:9: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—[are] the things God has prepared for those who love him.” There is so much to be done, and He calls us to the work.
Girls Like Us, by Rachael Lloyd
Good News About Injustice, by Gary Haugan
A Crime So Monstrous, by Benjamin Skinner,
Half the Sky, by Nicolas Kristoff and Cheryl WuDunn
Terrify No More, by Gary Haugan
Not For Sale, by David Batstone