Last night on my way back from Denver I had the privilege of sitting next to a cop. This individual was working on a case aimed at arresting some people engaged in sex-trafficking. She shared some stories, and she talked about the anger she feels when she hears the stories of abuse that these girls are subjected to. It was sad to hear, but it was also a shocking reminder. It’s all too easy to forget that slavery, human trafficking, and the sex industry are billion dollar industries that are often hidden from our sight.
Sex trafficking is easy to miss. We think that it’s something that happens in other parts of the world. It happens to other people in other countries — people who look different from us, or speak a different language than us. But that simply isn’t true. Women and children are stolen and sold into sexual slavery in the suburbs and cities in which we live and work. The case she is working on is taking place right here in the US. Here are some other simple facts about the slave trade from ijm’s site:
• Human trafficking is the world’s third largest criminal
enterprise, after drugs and weapons. (U.S. Department of State)
• 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)
As I talked with my new friend, I was struck by the kingdom nature of her work. She said that she had been contacted by churches in the past who wanted to help. They asked if they could do investigative work. They wanted to go into dangerous areas and do stakeouts. She begged them not to do that. She didn’t want to get a phone call from them after they had gotten themselves caught in the middle of a shoot-out asking for help! As we talked, it seemed clear to me that the church’s role is awareness so that we can fight against slavery at a systems level (advocating for better laws and funding to fight trafficking) and help with victim recovery — the church can come along side those who have suffered at the hands of sexual slavery and help them to find healing for their wounds.
The work that my friend is doing is really important, and only she can do it. God is against slavery and the church is about God’s business, but we aren’t equipped to bust human trafficking rings. Trained police officers who catch sex trafficking rings are doing God’s work. They are executing justice against obvious oppressors of the weak and vulnerable. Psalm 12 is one of the great psalms crying out for God to act on behalf of the vulnerable, particularly vulnerable children. I pray this psalm for my new friend as she engages in God’s work of fighting against sexual slavery. I pray that God would work through her to protect and save the weak and vulnerable caught in the sex trade.
“Help, LORD, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception.
May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue that says, “We will triumph with our tongues; we own our lips—who is our master?”
“Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy,
I will now arise,” says the LORD. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.
O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever. The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.”
(Psalms 12:1–8 NIV)