This week, I’m doing something a little different on my blog, and I need your help.
In particular, this week is about women and children who are being enslaved and sold for sex. I know, I know. You want to stop reading already because the topic is too hard, too unfathomable, too desperate. But will you stay with me? Because there are kids right under our noses who are desperate for someone to find them and bring them to safety. They are scared and hurting and so very courageous.
This week, will you support A Courageous One with me?
Here’s why we need to be involved:
There are more slaves in the world today than at any time in history, and they are kept there by violence (Remember The Locust Effect?) Some slaves are forced into cruel labor conditions, many others are exploited and sold for sex.
It happens in India, in Thailand, and in Kenya. It happens in the Netherlands, South Africa, and Australia.
And it is happening in the USA too. Conservative estimates are that there are 500 000 women and children who are being trafficked and sold for sex at the moment in the United States. The number is staggering, and it calls for us to ask some more questions.
Where is this happening?
Right under our noses. In our backyards. Sacramento, which is a few minutes’ drive away from where we live, has the 2nd highest numbers for sex trafficking in California. Incredibly, the chief of police in Sacramento claims that those numbers are a good thing: because it shows that there is actually an involved police force investigating it. There are many places that don’t appear on any list of “cities with a trafficking problem” – but that’s not because it isn’t happening. It is happening, but no one is counting the victims or catching the perpetrators yet.
When film maker David Trotter and award winning musician Natalie Grant started looking into this, they were amazed at the depth of the trafficking underworld right under our noses. No areas in the US are exempt. Their movie, In Plain Sight documents rescue efforts being made in Sacramento, Houston, Little Rock, Nashville and Baltimore.
Here’s the punch line: just because you haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. If anything, the ones trafficking children are relying on us not seeing it, so that it can keep on happening. We need to be talking about it and asking questions: because if you knew where to ask, you’d be amazed how close to your home you could buy sex with a child.
Reading this is shocking, I know. The proximity makes it hard to breathe. It is hard to know that evil is so close at hand. But do you know what, friends? The proximity also means that our HELP can be close at hand. This is not a “faraway problem” we can do nothing about. This is a nearby problem that we absolutely can do something about.
Who is involved?
One person who felt spurred to action is Jenny Williamson: a mom who learned about sex trafficking in her city and felt moved to act.
Jenny has just been honored as one of this year’s Women of Worth by Loreal Paris for her work (and you can support her nomination for a $25k prize here). I had the privilege of meeting Jenny last week and hearing more of her story.
Of all the incredible things Jenny told me, this stood out: In her early days of learning about sex trafficking, she asked an FBI investigator who it was that was buying sex from minors and beat-up women. The investigator didn’t skip a beat with her answer: “your husband.” She didn’t mean Jenny’s husband in particular, but rather was pointing out the shocking fact that the primary demographic of those seeking out illicit sex are exactly the same group that we tend to think is most respectable: white, well-educated, white-collar, married men. Many of them go to church.
I gagged a little when Jenny told me that. I live in a town full of white, well-educated, white-collar, married men. “Exactly,” she said. And, she said, the girls she works with who were rescued tell her that their busiest times of the day were between 7 and 9am, and 5:30 and 7:30pm: men on their way to and from work. Men who have sex with a child and then continue to their job where they teach our classes, fix our teeth, finance our loans, and stamp our documents. Men who have pay for sex on their way back from work, and arrive home “a little late” to have dinner with their wives and kids.
Friends, I know. It is beyond horrifying, and my purpose is not to make us suspicious of everyone we know. My purpose is this: it is to say that if we start a conversation, bring this issue to light, share about it on social media – then we are going to, at some point, be talking to someone who is directly involved in it. We just won’t know who it is.
This issue is closer than we think – and that’s terrifying.
But, this issue is closer than we think – which means we really can do something.
So let’s talk. Let’s raise awareness. This stuff will only go on as long as we turn a blind eye. It thrives on secrecy. But if we’re talking about it: it won’t be a secret anymore.
Let’s give generously. Let’s pray. God knows where these scared and hurting children are and He longs for them to be safe. Will you partner with me this week to help us support these courageous ones and bring them to safety? We can do it. Tomorrow I will post Liz’s story: an incredible story of hope and healing. How wonderful would it be for us to partner to find more Liz’s, so that they will have their own courageous story to tell?
The good news is that we don’t have to be superstars or wizards to help. We can help in a really practical, tangible way. This week, can I ask you to work with me to support one of these courageous ones by supporting the #ACourageousOne project, and:
- Donating ONE DOLLAR towards rescuing trafficked women and girls. There are many great organizations working on this, but I have personal relationships with Courage Worldwide and International Justice Mission. I trust their organizations. Would you send #ACourageousOne DOLLAR and raise money?
- Praying for ONE MINUTE for the rescue and restoration of trafficking victims? Just one minute. Pray for the organizations working to help. Pray for the men who do these things to come to their senses. Would you spend #ACourageousOne MINUTE in prayer and raise hope?
- Sharing ONE POST about sex trafficking on social media. This week I will post one girls’ story, some information on what prostitution is (and isn’t), a Psalm for the 27 million, and an open letter to men. Share any of these, or one of the videos in this post, or share this excellent article on 10 things you didn’t know about sex trafficking (and what you can do about it). Share about SF Giants’ Jeremy Affeldt’s campaign about human trafficking (Go Giants!) Again: the communities we know on social media are the communities involved. Would you share #ACourageousOne POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA and raise awareness?
Imagine the possibilities. This blog has about about 2000 followers. Imagine if we could turn that into $2000. Or 2000 prayers. Or spreading the word by sharing 2000 articles (and just how many dollars or prayers THAT would generate!)
Be A Courageous One with me. Let’s refuse to do nothing. We can make a difference.
Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley’s “One Day” (Flickr Creative Commons). Edited by Bronwyn Lea.