Tuesday, January 6, 2015

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, What You Should Know

Did you know that modern-day slavery may have increased as much as 30 percent in the past 7 years? With no reliable measuring stick, due to the dark nature of human trafficking, the statistic cited by most abolitionists for several years was that 27 million people were currently enslaved around the globe. Yet recently some nonprofits have revised that figure. According to Slavery No More the estimate has skyrocketed in the past 7 years to as many as 35 million. (Some abolitionists now use 30 million; others are more conservative. Regardless of the exact number--a horrendous problem appears to be escalating.) And, how can it not?

Did you know that to abolish human slavery necessitates doing far more than rescuing victims of commercial sexual exploitation or labor trafficking? Conditions are ripe for traffickers to blindside male and female victims who need jobs to work their way out of poverty. Young girls desperate for family relationships are also at high risk. Instant gratification, poverty, orphans/foster care, a hypersexualized culture, the lack of self-respect and human dignity predicated on the lack of value for life itself--all create a societal climate conducive to multiplying the demand. No matter how many are rescued until the underlying problems are effectively addressed, abolitionist efforts may be a bit like putting a band-aid on a spreading cancer. While each individual set free is of inestimable worth, the underlying causes for this disease must be eliminated before it can be cured.

Did you know that every sphere of society can make a tremendous difference in abolishing slavery. Government officials that prosecute those who perpetrate abuse on victims make it more difficult. Producers, directors, and actors refusing to hypersexualize onscreen roles make a difference. Educators teaching the importance of self-respect and the traps traffickers use to ensnare victims protect those at risk. Medical professionals, hotel and restaurant owners, business execs, and domestic service agents can all make a difference if they are willing to learn about the problems.

Did you know trafficking thrives in our communities; that So California is a global hub for human trafficking? Trafficking from Mexico up the I15 corridor to Ontario's truck stop and out to Las Vegas as well as through the ports of Los Angeles and LAX, place many trafficking victims and perpetrators among us. And if you live in Kentucky or Ohio or Nebraska; they live among you as well. A girl from a seemingly "safe" state, showed up on my best friend's porch--trafficked to So CA by someone she met on the Internet. No place in the U.S. is immune.

Did you know that some young women are recruited from electronic music festivals or even from wealthy neighborhoods? It may be our own daughters/sisters/nieces or sons/brothers/nephews involved. Yes, boys are trafficked as well as girls and that, too, may be on the rise.

Did you know that traffickers have value despite the criminal enterprise they are engaged in? On January 1, 1773, John Newton preached a New Year's message from 1 Chronicles 17:16-17 in his church at Olney, England. . . . He told his church to look back at God's goodness, look around at God's promises, and look forward to future usefulness." Afterward he introduced a poem he'd written that became one of the most beloved hymns ever, "Amazing Grace." Newton was once a human trafficker--until his life was transformed by Jesus Christ. If all of today's traffickers became Christians, who love and obey the Lord, modern-day slavery would cease. So it makes sense that one of the greatest solutions for eliminating human trafficking is evangelism--valuing those who do not know how to value themselves and helping them grow in a personal relationship with their Savior.

Did you know it's important to "look back at God's goodness" to you, and recognize how precious your freedom is, then look around at God's promises and look forward to future usefulness" in the prevention of modern-day slavery? To abolish modern-day slavery, there are as many needs and opportunities as there are individuals willing to get involved. And it's not difficult.

Following is a short-list of events for January/February that are a great way to start doing your part. (Please feel free to add others in the comments.) All you need to do is choose one (or more) and participate. You can even get involved with the first and second ones from the comfort of your own home, however attending an event and meeting others who care about ending modern-day slavery can increase your awareness and motivation. By standing shoulder-to-shoulder, we can start reducing the number of lives devastated by this travesty. Perhaps someone you love will be one of the potential victims saved.

Saturday 1/10, 4th Annual National Prayer Summit Intercessory-Abolition Movement for the Ending of Human Trafficking.  6-8 a.m. PST. Numerous speakers will inform participants about what's happening and guide them in prayer during this conference call. All you need to do is dial the phone number and input the access code at the link above--then mute your phone and pray silently with the abolitionist leaders.

Saturday 1/10  Pray for Freedom 3-5 p.m. PST. Only God has the answers and power necessary to eliminate modern-day slavery--to do beyond what we can think or imagine. Coming together as the Body of Christ to pray with believers across the nation for God's supernatural guidance, wisdom, intervention, provision, and power is why the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST) partnered with the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University to host this live prayer event. If you can't attend in person, you can check for a simulcast in your area.

Sunday 1/11 LA Freedom Walk  1:30-3:30 PST. Raise awareness and learn how to identify victims and who to call in a crisis. Meet others engaged in this battle.

Saturday 1/23 Screening of In Plain Sight, 7:00 p.m. PST. This documentary on trafficking in the U.S. features what's happening in six different cities in the U.S. A local survivor of sex trafficking will also be speaking. Put on by Traffick Free Pomona, the evening will offer hope and inspiration and ways to get involved. Purpose Church, Claremont, CA

Saturday 2/7 The 2015 Global Human Trafficking Conference in Beverly Hills presents the opportunity to learn from expert abolitionists about what's being done to fight modern-day slavery and how you can help. ("The South Asian Girl Next Door" offers a glimpse of the 2012 conference and the type of input expected from the 2015 event.)

Participating in an event this month is the right thing to do, however if you aren't so inclined, another way you could help fight human trafficking is to donate to a group battling this travesty. You might check out nonprofits like CADE, PLUR Life Ministries and Traffick Free Pomona . Each of these groups rely on donors to support their work. Or if you aren't in Southern California, start searching for nonprofits to assist abolitionist efforts in your own area. The responsibility of our own freedom makes this the least we can do.

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