So far in this Justice Awakening: How You and Your Church Can Help End Human Trafficking series, we have talked about being awakened to justice, exposing the darkness, and answering the question, “Why the Church Must Lead?” Today, we close the blog conversation by considering what the church can do about injustice.
I love that this book offers simple, yet practical action steps for addressing this issue in your local community. For those interested in taking a stand against human trafficking, author Eddie Byun recommends the following key areas of focus:
- Releasing Intercessors (Prayer Team)
In my years of learning about advocacy and then doing advocacy work, I know that some people want to get in the fight by taking direct action. In their minds, they want to go to brothels and kick down doors. The reality is that rarely is first or crisis response concerning this crime as simple or sexy as it may appear in movies like Traffic. Responding to this crisis directly, strategically, and successfully often takes many years of research and analysis, specific skill sets and training, and a whole lot of collaboration and patience. The reality is that many of us lack the capacity (because of other commitments, our jobs, lack of training, etc.) to respond in that way.
There is something you can do, however, and that is pray. Sometimes I hear Christians say things like, “All I can do is pray,” as if their prayers is somehow less critical than the work I just described. Those who respond directly will often tell you without a shadow of doubt that this crime is a deeply rooted spiritual issue, and prayer is the best thing you can do for them and those they are seeking to rescue. They do not see your prayers as secondary or less important work. When you take action by committing to faithfully pray against this injustice, you are doing the right thing.
- Raising Awareness (Awareness Team)
Education and awareness is one of the primary ways I respond to this issue. There are far too many people, especially in the church, that don’t know that slavery still exists. According to the Global Slavery Index report of 2014, there is an estimated 36 million people enslaved in the world. Although illegal in every country, modern-day slavery and human trafficking is a growing $150 billion industry, and it is happening in the United States and abroad! This crime negatively impacts the lives of men, women, and children, and it destroys families across the world for generations. This is the message that needs sharing. This is a conversation that we need in the church amongst Bible study and small groups, and yes, we also need to hear this concern from our pulpits. When you take action to educate people about this issue, you are doing the right thing.
- Research and Investigation (Research Team)
Because of the organizations I support, partner with, and learn from, I am keenly aware of the connection between human trafficking that happens internationally and domestically. There are great international organizations like the International Justice Mission that fight this injustice globally, and they are quite helpful in offering education, training, and opportunities to address this issue internationally. Addressing this issue locally might be a bit of a challenge, particularly if there are not credible organizations addressing the crime. I would recommend first checking to see if that is indeed true. If there are local organizations addressing this issue, connect or partner with, learn from, and collaborate with them. “In order to raise awareness effectively, we need good data to support our message (105).” Find out what is going on in your town and city. Think about the service and opportunities that are being offered to both: 1.) respond to human trafficking, and offer aftercare and life-building services and opportunities and skills for survivors, and 2.) preventative care and support for the “vulnerable populations” in your communities. Vulnerable populations may include at-risk youth, any child or woman (statistically, though men are also victims of this crime), orphans or foster care children/graduates, immigrant/refugee communities, and homeless or impoverished persons just to name a few. What status and priorities does your district attorney or police department place on addressing this issue? When you research or investigate how this crime impacts your local community, you are doing the right thing.
- Relationship Building and Networking (Networking Team)
As mentioned previously, one of the first things people might want to do when they find out about this issue is take action. And we do need to take action. However, we want to take the right actions that are going to have the best success and positively impact the most people. Therefore it is important to pray, educate ourselves, and research. Part of our research can include finding out about the individuals, churches, and organizations already working to address this issue and to learn from and partner with them. It is not always necessary, practical, or beneficial to start something new. Many of these organizations and ministries need people just like you to help fill their gaps so they can respond in excellence. When you partner and collaborate to fight this crime, you are doing the right thing.
- Restoration and Healing (Restoration Team)
Some organizations, churches, and ministries offer aftercare services for survivors. Through research, you might be able to find safe houses or aftercare centers to offer support. Organizations like World Relief provide opportunities to simply offer companionship to survivors. Other organizations provide counseling, job and life skills, and other aftercare services. When you offer restoration and healing, you are doing the right thing.
- Rescue and Prevention (Outreach Team)
If you do feel compelled to rescue victims or want to consider a meaningful internship or fellowship, I encourage you to checkout careers at the International Justice Mission. When you rescue and prevent human trafficking, you are doing the right thing.
These are only a few ways you can get started to advocate and take a stand. “Which two or three ideas from this list do you feel you could begin doing right away? Which two or three ideas do you think your church can be involved with? What will you do now to make these ideas a reality within your life and ministry (143)?”
Although this is the last blog post in this mini-series, I encourage you to continue searching the scriptures and having conversations amongst your friends, church, and community about the importance of taking a stand for justice.
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2015