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"The Only Thing Necessary"

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke’s words serve as a solemn reminder that we have a responsibility to be an advocate for those whose voice is not heard. As awareness of this injustice grows, we are realizing that the issue of human trafficking is more than a political, geographic or religious problem. Human trafficking affects everyone and is by definition a “human” problem. 

“Trafficking in Persons” take places when the vulnerabilities of one person are exploited by another for commercial gain. More specifically, this modern day slavery exists when people are coerced, forced, and/or manipulated to do commercial sex acts or labor services against their will. Whether they are forced to work as a truck stop prostitute, a “masseuse” at an asian massage parlor, a nanny for a wealthy family, a brick maker in India, or a worker on a fishing boat in Southeast Asia, they are victims of exploitation. This injustice is not limited to developing nations, however. Quite to the contrary, every nation is affected and impacted by this violation of human rights.

With only drug trafficking surpassing it, human trafficking has become the second largest and the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. Approximately 27 million slaves are at work in the world today. Even in the US, many of them are enslaved in plain sight. As a matter of fact, the United States is second only to Germany as a top destination country for human trafficking.  

Already known for ethnic diversity, NYC is also gaining a reputation as a destination for victims of human trafficking. According to recent reports, “Queens, New York is emerging as an epicenter of human trafficking in the United States.” 

Along Roosevelt Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Queens, one will find illegitimate massage parlors, men passing out cards with the number of a local residential brothel, as well as vans serving as mobile bordellos. For this very reason, local church leaders and civic leaders from all over Queens gathered in the Corona neighborhood on August 24th to discover what they could do to help turn the tide. With the desire to bring awareness to human trafficking, “Let My People Go” served to inspire and equip local churches to be the answer to the ever-growing exploitation in Queens. The panel made up of NYC’s top Christian abolitionists dealt with how to identify and respond to human trafficking in a Gospel-centered manner. 

Testifying to witnessing prostitution within blocks of his church, the pastor of Iglesia Bautista Canaan, Juan Carlos Suero, told those in attendance that exploitation is a dangerous reality in his neighborhood. He continued to explain that he felt that his church was to be part of the solution.

As Pastor Juan Carlos recognized, God desires to use the local church to bring justice to the vulnerable. Jimmy Lee, the executive director of Restore NYC, an aftercare facility for foreign born victims, reminded those in attendance that “in every neighborhood where a woman is trafficked in NYC, there is a church that can be eyes and ears.” Lee reminded those listening that as they see red flags, they “can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1888-373-7888.”

Whether you live in Queens, NYC or Tulsa, Oklahoma, you must remember that before you can care for victims, you must first realize that they exist. Growing in our awareness is the first step toward bringing freedom to our communities. 

With that said, you do not have to wear a cape or have a Phd to be an advocate for the weak and vulnerable. God desires to use each of us. Though exploitation takes place everywhere, God is also sovereignly placing His church in every community in the world. The local church is God’s answer to the hurting all around us.  

Now as you read this article, you maybe be saying to yourself, “What can I do? This problem is too big. Why should I even try?” Edmund Burke, a member of the British Parliament in the late 1700s, who stood for the cause of the American Colonies understood the need for freedom, even when it was not popular or easy. He explained that “nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” Regardless of your age or your occupation, you can do something. As you begin to be aware of the exploitation that takes place around you, you are in the perfect position to care for the weak and vulnerable. Remember that the only thing necessary for you to fight human trafficking is to be a disciple that shows your love for God by the way that you love others.

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Enslaved in Plain Sight: Opening Our Eyes to Modern Day Slavery

"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy."    -Abraham Lincoln

On the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation designating January 2013 to be "National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month." In the proclamation, President Obama explains that:

"This month, we rededicate ourselves to stopping one of the greatest human rights abuses of our time. Around the world, millions of men, women, and children are bought, sold, beaten, and abused, locked in compelled service and hidden in darkness. They toil in factories and fields; in brothels and sweatshops; at sea, abroad, and at home. They are the victims of human trafficking -- a crime that amounts to modern-day slavery."

In essence, the same passion that led our 16th President to fight for justice should drive us to see world-wide slavery ended. Modern day slavery, or Human Trafficking as it known, is not a minor issue. It is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world. It is estimated that currently there are 27 million slaves, who are being forced, coerced, manipulated, and/or threatened unless they perform certain acts. Despite the opinion of many, they DO NOT choose to be sex or labor slaves.

You may think, "Well, that's simply a political issue and it isn't an issue in the United States." Cases of Human Trafficking have been reported in all 50 states. For example in NYC, you will walk by many asian massage parlors. Many of these employ trafficked girls, who came to the US in search of a better life. But this isn't just an issue facing those who come from overseas, domestic trafficking is alive and well. Joe Mazilli, a private investigator specializing in trafficking cases, told me recently that in NYC a runaway is approached by a trafficker within 48 hours of being on the street. This is a danger that affects all of us. As Christians, we must stand against this epidemic.

Last January, God opened my eyes to modern day slavery and I have never been the same. A year later, I am serving in NYC with college students to help open their eyes to different ways that they can stand against trafficking.

On January 1st, 2013,  I took students from the Gallery Church to the Passion Conference at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. It was here that over 60,000 students heard the Gospel and heard about the horrors of Modern Day slavery. With speakers like John Piper, Francis Chan, Louie Giglio, and Gary Haugen, the students heard Gospel-centered messages that called them to action. The first step that these students took was to collectively raise 3.5 million dollars to be used in the fight against slavery.

At passion, there were "End it" stations, where students could give financially. Here we are at a station.

Louie Giglio, the founder of the Passion Movement explains that "the voices of this generation, what are called 'poor college students,' [gave] 3.2 or 3.3 or 3.5 million dollars in four days. That's a big message, and their voice has reached the White House, it's reached a lot of streams of culture, and we pray the White House is listening, engaging, and doing what they can," Giglio added.

Here we are on the last day of Passion

"It's not any one person or organization that's going to solve this. It's every one of us, doing what we can, at the level of influence we have, to not only shine a light on slavery, but to end it."

So how do we stand against slavery? Here are a few basic things that you can do to stand against slavery in a practical way.

First, as we ponder how the Gospel frees us and saves us, we should be empowered to see slavery abolished. If you stand on the Gospel, you should naturally stand against injustice. If you have time, listen to a message that I preached on the this recently.

Second, educate yourself on the signs of Human trafficking. Become prepared to report tips on potential human trafficking activity to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888.

Third, become aware of what is happening in your own state. Using Slaverymap.org, you are able to track cases of domestic trafficking in 'your own neck of the woods.'

Fourth, take the survey on slaveryfootprint.org in order to answer the question, "how many slaves work for you?" This is a sobering survey, which shows us that in many ways the goods that we consume have been touched by forced labor. Using the marketplace, we can stand against illegal trade practices. For other ways to fight trafficking, click here!

Fifth, take a stand and take the pledge to "End It!"

In closing, any 'Evangelical Christian" would agree that faith in the vicarious life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus is what sets us free from our slavery to sin and to Satan. As we think on the Gospel, we should be stirred to action. Our Gospel freedom is what sets us free to fight for the physical and spiritual freedom of others. May the Gospel propel us to see people liberated from their slavery.

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