This month I am embarking on a journey of passion in order to fulfill my resolution for revolution. One area that this passion is going to hugely impact is human trafficking. There are more people in slavery today than there has ever been in any other point in History. I pray that hearing this will spark a little something in all of us. Human trafficking is not a particularly "new" concept for me. It's something that a few people I am close to are involved in, but it has never been something I have thought about. Ever. It seemed so far away. But God, in His infinite ways, has been stirring up this desire all around me, bringing the heart of His people closer to the heart of His own desires. And as I sat in a room with other moms drinking coffee, enjoying a little quiet time, and began hearing a little bit about human trafficking in my own city, God did His thing.
The day before, I had heard a few staggering statistics about my city. We are #2 in AIDS cases, #1 in Syphilis, #2 in Chlamydia, #5 in Gonorrhea, we have a higher murder rate than Washington DC, New York, and Los Angeles. These statistics blew me away. Blew. Me. Away. It broke my heart for the people around me, absolutely broke my heart. Then here I was sitting in this room listening to one of the women discuss an upcoming fund raiser for an organization she started a couple of years ago to fight human trafficking. God's working, the preparation He had done so that I would be ready to accept this seed, began to take shape. I began to realize that this was not a "far away" problem. I began to realize that this does not just affect everyone else. This has the very real possibility to affect my own family, my friends, my children. Does that make it more important? No, but sometimes that's what it takes to wake us up to a situation isn't it. My city is one of the top 10 cities for human trafficking. The youngest confirmed victim of sex trafficking in my city is 6 years old. My state has the highest rate of child homelessness of all the 50 states, with 30% of homeless shelter youth and 70% of street youth falling victim to commercial sexual exploitation. All of these stats were taken from my friend's site TraffickingHope.org and there are many, many more stats that will make your heart break. This is not far away. This is in my city, my state, my country. This isn't in the red light district in Amsterdam where prostitution is legal. This isn't in a third world country where people are living in such hopelessness that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get out. No, this is here in my backyard. In fact, there could be a slave right next door.
We heard of a girl, who shares her story in the book "The Slave Next Door". A young girl who was lured in by a 17 year old boy at her school. A boy she saw every day, boy who was nice to her, a boy who offered to drive her home, but instead took her to his home under the guise of "dropping something off on the way". This girl was then drugged and raped and beaten by some 20 men, pictures were taken, and the next day the threats began. She was given copies of the pictures. They threatened to tell her father, who was an affluent business man and very involved in the local Catholic church, and threatened to get him fired. They would call her every night, and she would have to go. She would sneak out under the noses of her parents while they were sleeping and do whatever it was they were calling her to do. She was not a runaway, she was not unloved, she was not homeless. She was a scared young girl who didn't know what to do, so she did the only thing she could think of to protect herself and her family.
This is where the passion for human trafficking and my passion for mothers merge. There are 27 million people in bondage worldwide. 99% of them have not been rescued, but 100% of them are somebody's child. We were told of the handlers who roam the malls seeking out "targets". They seek out the girls who feel insecure, the girls who are seeking to be validated. It's something as simple as telling a girl she has beautiful eyes only to have her say, "No, they're not." What does this mean for us as moms? This is not meant to be an overwhelmingly scary realization. Yes, this is a heavy and uncomfortable topic, but we serve an Almighty God who protects us, who guides us, and who is immensely more powerful than any harm that can come to us. This means that we, as moms, hold all the power, that we can change it all.
It begins with us. It begins with our children. We can transform this horrific cycle one family at a time. It means raising our sons to respect women, to value them, to understand that women are not objects to use, but people to be adored. It means raising our daughters to recognize their true value, to understand the importance of modesty and respect, to teach them the difference between affection and manipulation. If we raise up men who love and respect women, women who love and respect themselves, and wrap it all up in a love and respect for God our Father, we can end this cycle of slavery and abuse. It's hard not to get caught up in the vastness, the severity, the devastation. We may not all be called to go in and rescue these girls from their lives of slavery. We may not all be called to host fund-raisers, to start organizations, to hit the streets, to "get dirty". We may not all feel "passionate" about human trafficking. But as moms we are all called to raise up the next generation, and as moms that's something we should all be passionate about.