Human trafficking has been a popular topic across the media over the last year and a half. While many people have heard the phrase, few understand the depth of the injustice that this “industry” levels on the most vulnerable people in our world. It is estimated that more than 27 million people are enslaved in the world today. If we count the underground network of slave masters, those that are assisting them, and those that are buying the product (young boys and girls) that sex trafficking produces, we can be assured that there are significantly more than 100 million people involved. Let that sink in for a minute. 100 million people involved today and many times more than that who are at extreme risk to become involved in modern day slavery!
We must understand the significance of this problem but we can’t allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness. There are many great organizations that are fighting modern day slavery by attempting to rescue the victims from their physical bondage. They provide safe housing and education, and teach skills that former victims can use to support themselves. Many of these organizations also work with governments, law enforcement, and prosecutors to ensure that the law will provide appropriate punishment to those who are perpetrating these crimes. I am so encouraged to see the great work that these organizations are doing and thank God daily for these dedicated individuals across the world.
Rescuing victims and prosecuting the perpetrators are vitally important to reducing the impact of this injustice; however, I believe that the prevention of human trafficking is the key to bringing long term resolution to the problem. Preventing a negative outcome is more effective than trying to resolve the problem after it has happened. Similarly, it is much easier to never smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol than it is to fight the addiction. There are many cultural and societal issues that make healthy choices regarding eating, smoking and drinking difficult. Human trafficking is very much the same. In some cultures, the very fabric of life leads to increased vulnerability to become a victim, perpetrator or buyer in the evil industry of human trafficking. Young girls (Young boys are victimized, too, but the majority are girls.) of all countries, races, and socio-economic strata exist today as potential victims. The factors that make it so are as diverse as the places where these children live. Misunderstandings of the role of women, as well as outright greed, put young boys (Most traffickers are men but there are women involved, also.) at risk of becoming slave masters. Others, existing in an over sexualized and increasingly moral less environment, see nothing wrong with purchasing another’s body for their own pleasure.
I believe that the evangelical church must lead the way in addressing the injustices that are so prevalent in this world. Education and awareness are critical components of any effective strategy. A better understanding of relevant cultural issues around the world is critical for those Westerners who see the world only through the paradigm of our life here. While these strategies will certainly help prevent modern day slavery, they can’t stop it completely. There is but one solution that we have at our disposal as the Church.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only solution we can bring to this fight that will be completely successful in fighting human trafficking.
A person that has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit is no longer bound to the world’s definitions of justice and life. By sharing the gospel with these vulnerable people, we enable them to allow the Spirit to awaken them to the truths and perspective that the Bible reveals. We also expose the vulnerable to what they really need most – hope in the midst of the hopelessness of their earthly situations. They share in the love, grace, and forgiveness of sins that come from an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The problem of human trafficking is a big one but our God is bigger! Will you join with HOPE61 in praying for all of those vulnerable to human trafficking?