Jesus tells us to treat others as we would want to be treated, and He has a heart for the oppressed. With God’s help, you can make a world of difference. Don’t know where to start? Here are some suggestions.
The crime of human trafficking reflects a powerful clash of spiritual forces. Don’t minimize the importance of your prayers. The battle deserves and requires the best resources available: God’s favor, power, wisdom, and protection. The staff of International Justice Mission (IJM) spend an hour each day in prayer. They said they can’t accomplish all they do without God’s help, and actively seek it. Lift up those on the front lines: A Heart for Justice has collected several ministries’ prayer guides.
Volunteers from one anti-trafficking ministry use Free Conference Call to facilitate a regular time of prayer for the ministry’s leadership, the work the group is trying to accomplish, and trafficking victims in general. Volunteers who wish to pray together call in on Tuesday mornings at one of the two set times (6:30 and 8:00 a.m.), using the assigned phone number and login, and pray with other volunteers who have also called and logged in. You could find a time that works best with those in your network or ministry, request a phone number and log in, and begin spreading the word to others who would like to join you in prayer. (Your assigned phone number and login will remain the same, the service is free, but, depending on your phone’s rate plan and the time of your call, you may need to use your long distance minutes.)
Educate yourself and those you influence. For starters, here are a few facts about human trafficking:
- After drug dealing, human trafficking (both sex trafficking and trafficking for forced labor) is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today, and it is the fastest growing. (U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services)
- Worldwide, there are nearly two million children in the commercial sex trade. (UNICEF)
- There are an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 children, women and men trafficked across international borders annually. (U.S. Department of State)
- Approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors. (U.S. Department of State)
- The total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion. (U.N.)
- Sex trafficking is an engine of the global AIDS epidemic. (U.S. Department of State)
Learn all you can, then consider becoming a resource person, volunteering to speak at churches, organizations, retreats, and in other venues. You can easily become knowledgeable on human trafficking through information readily available on websites, in articles, and in books.
An attorney who prosecutes human trafficking cases said one of her biggest challenges is convincing a jury that this sort of thing really happens. Most are so overwhelmed by the horrors of the case that they have difficulty believing it’s true. She encourages the general public to educate themselves about trafficking, so, should they have the opportunity to serve as a juror on a human trafficking case, they are able to listen objectively and rule fairly.
Nefarious, an award-winning documentary, sheds light on sex trafficking around the world. All proceeds from the sale of the DVD go towards the rescue and restoration of trafficking victims. Be sure to watch the videos in the bonus section. Wonderful testimonies of survivors who now know and love the Savior. (This documentary is not for children.)
Trade of Innocents, modeled after the work of the International Justice Mission, is a professional-quality independent film produced by a medical doctor and his family once their eyes were opened to the plight of trafficked girls.
The award-winning movie, Human Trafficking, featuring Mira Sorvino and Donald Sutherland, is a fictional thriller, but gives viewers a realistic view of the life of trafficking victims, and shows how easily young women can become ensnared in the trafficking network. (This is not a movie for children.)
The Love146 website contains a wealth of information, survivors’ stories, videos, and ways to make a difference.
- Free the Captives Houston provides a comprehensive resource for current trafficking issues, updated regularly. Founder Julie Waters s innovative in the multitude of ways her organization addresses all aspects of trafficking.
- Stella’s Voice reaches out to orphans in Moldova, saving teen girls from falling into traffickers hands, and demonstrating the love of Jesus to children who have never experienced it.
Set up a google alert. Just type “human trafficking” in the search query, adjust the preferences to your liking, and you can receive a daily or weekly email with the latest articles or blogs, including links and a brief synopsis, about this—or any—subject.
3. Read a good book.
Made in the USA by Alisa Jordheim
The White Umbrella by Mary Frances Bowley
In Our Backyard by Nita Belles
Start Something to End Trafficking by David Trotter
4. Express your concerns to your political representatives.
The International Justice Mission site simplifies the process with a form that will automatically forward a letter to your state senators. Be courteous and thank those who reply.
Rate your state: Shared Hope International has graded each state’s effectiveness in addressing human trafficking issues. Discover your state’s grade and contact your officials to commend or challenge them regarding what is/isn’t being done to protect, rescue, and rehabilitate victims of trafficking.
If you would like to know what your elected officials are hearing regarding trafficking, or read the transcripts of those meetings, they are recorded and available on CSpan. You can learn quite a bit from this comprehensive congressional hearing addressing the sex trafficking of minors that takes place within our borders, and listen to other Congressional and State Department hearings on domestic and international trafficking as well.
Learn how Google and other organizations are using technology in the battle against traffickers and for the enslaved.
5. Support local law enforcement.
Find out how your church can help them as they address this concern in your community. When one church in Arizona discovered that police officers who picked up young girls who were being prostituted were buying the hungry girls meals and covering the cost themselves, church members donated a large number of fast food gift cards. The church gave them to the city’s vice officers, assuring the officers that they would be covering them in prayer. Many cities have task forces that address community trafficking issues and allow citizens to be part of the panel.
6. Be a responsible consumer.
T-shirts for custom-imprinting are often created using slave labor. Rather, purchase printed T-shirts for your organization from a ministry focused on the healing and empowering of trafficking survivors: Agape International Misions.
Look for a “fair trade” logo when you purchase coffee and especially chocolate, since child slaves harvest most cocoa. Learn more and look for companies who offer fair trade chocolate.
The handmade carpet industry exploits nearly 250,000 children. Look for the rugmark seal to buy a hand-woven rug that has been ethically made.
DisposablePeople.org lists numerous ways you can avoid buying products produced using slave labor.
Purchase gifts for others from ministries that provide housing and rehabilitation for rescued victims of trafficking, or provide a livelihood for those most vulnerable to it:
- Jewelry from Eden Ministry is handcrafted by women in China rescued from prostitution. The women now work in a safe, joy-filled environment. And if you create jewelry, and would like to help them come up with new designs, they are open to ideas.
- Bajalia Trading Company pays fair prices for beautiful handmade items from artisans around the globe, helps finance Christian ministries in the artisans’ communities, and partners with organizations that rescue and restore victims of sex trafficking.
7. Protect by prevention.
Be aware of traffickers’ tactics, and talk with your children, school administrators, youth leaders, and anyone working with children or teens. Fairfax County, VA, has been plagued by gang-related sex trafficking of teens. They produced an excellent video useful for parents, educators, and students. This eye-opening video can be viewed or downloaded in segments free online, but DVDs are just $5. Consider purchasing and providing DVDs to administrators or PTA leaders of local high and jr. high schools.
Traffickers can be male or female, even classmates. Traffickers may even be teens or use kids to recruit other kids.
- Traffickers frequent locations where teens do and often post false profiles as teen boys and girls on social media sites.
- The average age of entry into forced prostitution is 12–13. Most victims are young women, but boys are also at risk. Seeing a young teen girl with a much-older “boyfriend” should raise a red flag. For most young women who are prostituted, this is how their story begins.
- Traffickers may approach young women in malls, posing as talent scouts or modeling agents with legitimate-appearing credentials.
8. Save 888-373-7888 in your phone.
This is the number of the hotline at the National Human Trafficking Resource Center sponsored by the Polaris Project. Save it on your cell phone. The line is manned 24/7, with multiple language interpreters available. Victims can also text BEFREE (233733) to be immediately connected to the NHTRC.
Report instances or suspicions of human trafficking. Know the signs that might indicate that a child is a trafficking victim.
9. Be alert when traveling.
Though most friendly strangers are authentic, Never agree to go somewhere with anyone or allow yourself to be separated from your group. People, especially young people, traveling abroad can be naïve, so arm them with safe traveling tips so they are not vulnerable to those who would exploit them.
Also, as you travel domestically and internationally, be alert for potential trafficking scenarios. Innocents at Risk trains flight attendants to identify and report trafficking on their flights, which has led to the rescue of numerous victims. Print print or download their informative brochure or handy wallet card on your phone or iPad so you’ll know what to look for and who to contact should you suspect trafficking. If you are a flight attendant, contact Innocents at Risk for more information regarding workshops for airline employees.
10. Trust your gut instincts.
If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Call 888-373-7888 and report what you see. They can direct you, and this information helps them know the scope of the problem in the U.S. Never try to rescue suspected victims yourself. Always contact authorities instead, and always call 911 if someone is in danger; otherwise you jeopardize the safety of both yourself and those you hope to rescue.
Many legitimate-seeming businesses (and some not-so) have served as fronts for labor and sex-trafficking, including massage parlors, nail salons, restaurants, farms, and youth selling products and magazines door-to-door.
11. Man up!
Our culture’s portrayal of manhood is far from biblical. “Pimp” has become a glamorized term, and the destructive effects of pornography have been downplayed. Men need to tell other men and the next generation of men that true masculinity protects women and children rather than exploits them.
Consider being a mentor to young men in juvenille detention. In nearly every facility, requests by young men desiring mentors can’t be met due to a huge shortage of male volunteers. Share your life and your faith with a young man looking for direction, and you may not only chage a life, but an entire community.
12. Woman up!
Women’s presence can be a redemptive force at juvenile detention facilities. Volunteer to mentor an individual or teach life skills classes. Many traffic victims wind up in juvenile detention because there are no aftercare facilities and their homes are abusive. These young women are often hungry to know God and His transforming power. Alert Ministries is a faith-based organization in the Dallas area whose female volunteers reach out to teen women in detention. In most juvenile and adult detention facilities, volunteers are allowed to minister from a biblical perspective and even share the gospel. Contact your local facility to find out their policies and requirements.
13. Speak up!
Don’t minimize the power of Facebook posts, tweets, blogs, and other modes of electronic communication. Use your resources to speak up. Consider downloading videos to your laptop, phone, or iPad, so you’re even ready for an impromptu presentation.
Host a film night with a panel discussion and refreshments afterward. Suggestions:
14. Host a dinner.
Host a social issues dinner for those in the community; invite others who share your concern for the oppressed. Discuss the issue of human trafficking and brainstorm for creative ideas; pool your resources and apply them to make a difference. A dinner could also raise funds as well as awareness for a group involved in the fight against trafficking.
Invite a speaker from an anti-trafficking ministry to address your church or home group. International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org) has produced an informative thirty-minute DVD for this purpose, and IJM can also provide speakers for groups and events. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center offers comprehensive training for organizations and ministries.
Raise awareness and a community’s conscience level by organizing a conference or town hall meeting, or benefit your community by providing a workshop for law enforcement, social workers, civic groups, clinic or hospital staff, city council members, or other concerned citizens.
15. Sponsor a child.
Poverty makes populations more vulnerable to traffickers’ lies. Consider helping a child in an area of the world where child sex-trafficking is most prevalent. Trafficking exists everywhere, but India, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Eastern Europe, parts of Africa, Haiti, and the Philippines are especially vulnerable.
16. Get involved.
Volunteer with a group that is involved in preventing or combating human trafficking or aiding its victims. If you have specific abilities or connections, ask if they could be useful, and be willing to help wherever you are needed.
Often people who hear about this awful crime desperately want to do something, and envision a mission trip in which they participate in a dramatic rescues, but the reality of that scenario is unlikely and unwise. The money one would have to spend pursuing that would go much further supporting organizations that already have resources in place to accomplish this and additonally help those they rescue.
18. Use your talents.
Offer your unique gifts and skills to God and see what doors He opens for you to use them. Perhaps you’re a writer, artist, videographer, web designer, musician, or even a good cook. Your talents can be used to raise awareness or funds, provide a needed skill for a current or beginning ministry, or bring people together to learn about or address these issues.
A photographer and graphic designer combined talents and produced note cards with original photos and pertinent scripture verses, which volunteers helped assemble and package. The cards were sold at an anti-human trafficking conference, and at various workshops to raise money for two anti-trafficking ministries. The back of the cards directed recipients to the ministries’ websites. The cards were advertised as “a beautiful way to combat an ugly crime.”
Tom Davis, author of Priceless, wrote the novel to raise money for the Russian orphans his ministry supports. This hard-to-put-down thriller not only accomplishes that, but it opens readers’ eyes and hearts to the orphans’ vulnerability to becoming traffick victims.
Many musicians have partnered with anti-trafficking groups to produce public service announcements, or raise awareness at their concerts.
19. Set an example.
Terra Organica, a natural food store in Bellingham, Washington, fights human trafficking by donating a percentage of sales to anti-trafficking efforts and by making sure the products they sell aren’t produced or harvested through slave labor.
The number of aftercare resources and facilities for rescued victims is grossly inadequate, especially for American children trafficked within our own borders. Consider what role your church can play in addressing that need or partnering with ministries who are already addressing it. One hair salon in Dallas donated one day’s profits toward building an aftercare shelter for girls rescued from sex slavery.
One church congregation decided to use the money they had been saving to build a sanctuary to construct a safe house for young women who had been sex trafficked, and to fund the salary of a qualified woman to minister to the girls and ensure their restoration and recovery.
20. Think outside the box.
Major sporting events always bring in a huge influx of traffickers, who travel from around the country to these events with the young women they exploit. When the Super Bowl came to Dallas, Traffick911 initiated an “I’m not buying it” campaign. Besides small wallet cards and door hangers with trafficking facts (in both Spanish and English), they also recruited a couple of Dallas Cowboy football players who were concerned about the trafficking of young women for sex to be courageous spokesmen to other men. Traffick911 printed posters and coasters with one of the Cowboy’s images and anti-trafficking message, which many bar and restaurant owners agreed to use in place of their regular coasters the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.
Ask for permission to post a small sign with a human trafficking fact on a public bulletin board at work or in the community and update it regularly. Include an action point, contact info, or a website for those who would like to contact you or get involved.
Consider replacing a personal or family gift with a financial gift to a ministry combating trafficking. Create a family legacy by researching and choosing together, taking time to pray for the ministry and the victims it seeks to rescue and restore.