I didn’t hear the phrase “human trafficking” until well into my 20s. (I’m now in my mid-30s.) Initially, I brushed it off because I could not bear to carry in my mind the reality of such atrocities. But awareness is the most important step to engagement, and it’s this first step where many of us get stuck.
The words of Dr. Diane Langberg, member of Biblical Theological Seminary’s Global Trauma Recovery Institute, are instructive here: “The things we cannot bear to hear about are the atrocities that he/she has had to live through.”
When this sinks in, we have no choice but to repent of our passivity and beg God for the strength to engage in what is close to his heart. Often the next question becomes, where do I begin? Try starting here:
1. Recognize why you’ve been passive.
Ask the question, Why is this hard for me to hear? Maybe you can identify with one of these:
- It’s viscerally uncomfortable to read about these atrocities.
- It brings up issues of your own past of abuse. (If so, skip to #2 below.)
- It challenges your trust in humanity to choose what’s good more often than not.
- Its existence seems to fly in the face of a good God who is over all things.
- You feel scared — for your own safety and that of those you love.
- You feel powerless to help.
I vacillate between most of the above, which has kept me from deeper engagement. But the beauty of realizing our passivity is that it can change in that moment. The fact that you have continued reading says you want to know more and be more engaged.
2. Work through your own trauma first.
As a counselor, I want to say there are very good reasons to be stuck in the place of “not-able-to-hear.” If hearing about this type of sexual abuse and trauma dislodges your own memories of abuse with overwhelming emotional effects, you need to get help for yourself first before engaging in further awareness. It’s the “put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others” principle. If you’re not sure where to begin looking, you can find a Christian Counseling Referral list by area here.
3. See your call to be engaged in Jesus’ mission.
Psalm 146 describes God as one who (among other qualities) “executes justice for the oppressed” and “sets the prisoners free” and “watches over the sojourners.”
How does the Lord do such things? There are abundant accounts of God’s direct intervention — both in the Bible and currently. Yet much more often, God invites his people into his mission. The theological term is “human agency.” We can miss this in our lives when we’re waiting for God himself to do the saving.
Jesus empowers us to be part of his justice mission of reconciliation and redemption through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t mean that all of us will be on the “front lines” of human trafficking. But being united to Christ by faith means we’ll be engaged in his mission.
4. Educate yourself on the realities of these atrocities.
Take a deep breath and be willing to feel repulsed as you read and educate yourself for the sake of prayer, awareness, and engagement. For an overview, read “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Slavery, Human Trafficking.” An organization on the frontlines of this battle is the International Justice Mission. You can also check out Freedom Summit, or go deeper by reading either Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof or The Natashas by Victor Malarek.
5. Stop feeding the demand by viewing pornography.
A fellow blogger and friend of mine, Heidi Carlson writes, “You don’t have to live in the slums of Thailand to be a stone’s throw away from a trafficker or trafficking-enabler or trafficking client. These individuals work with you, live on your street and sit next to you in church. You know them. Maybe you are one of them. A sex trafficking client. A user of pornography.”
Essentially, the problem boils down to three things: pornography is not victimless, dealers can’t exist without demand, and we are the ones demanding.
6. Buy from businesses supporting rescued sex trade victims.
7. Host a home party featuring items made by sex trade victims.
Ruhamah Designs and Women at Risk International offer the chance for you to host a home party for your friends to simultaneously shop and support women and children being rescued from human trafficking. They’ll send you all you need to host the party, including videos that help educate your guests on how their purchases actively support the fight against human trafficking.
8. Educate your church leadership on how to get involved.
Share this article with a small group leader, pastor, or ministry leader at your church. Ask if there are others they know of who are interested in fighting this form of injustice. Dr. Diane Langberg calls Christians to action in her book In Our Lives First:
“What do you suppose would happen if the Church in every part of the world fell down on her face and pleaded with God on behalf of these women and girls? What if she began to seek out what He would have her do for these females? What if she became the global, committed, ethical, and moral leadership that is needed to fight this battle?”
9. Pray regularly for and actively seek ways to be involved in the fight.
We cannot fight this massive problem alone. Expect opposition and discouragement, even persecution. We are encroaching on realms of deep evil and corrupt power structures. You need encouragement and support and prayers. We need a community of like-minded friends who will champion our efforts, add their own creative ideas, and engage together in all of this through purposeful prayer.
Pray that through your world — offering what you have — you can help call your brothers and sisters around the world to action and encourage those already on the frontlines that their labor is not in vain.
10. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
You can’t assume — as I have for years to my shame — that other people have this covered, that it’s too big for you to deal with anyway, or that it’s something pretty extreme that doesn’t happen in your city. It’s not for your glory as “The All-Great Rescuer,” but for God’s glory as the one who rescued you. Through you, he can offer rescue to others from sin and all atrocities resulting from sin’s corruption of hearts.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.