Mora was 14 years old when her “boyfriend” first asked her to perform sex acts on camera for strangers. Mora was desperate for acceptance and approval, and said yes. Before long Mora’s boyfriend hooked her on heroin and began taking her to Buffalo and New York City to prostitute herself. When Mora realized she was just one of many girls trapped in this cycle, the “relationship” turned violent.
Mora’s story is just one of thousands of young women and children being sexually trafficked and prostituted in America. This is just a small part of a global epidemic of trafficking, with some estimates stating there are over 20 million victims of human trafficking in the world today. In recognition of this problem, the U.S. Senate established January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day, stating that America “refuses to let human trafficking exist in the United States and around the world.” And yet according to the International Justice Mission (IJM), sex trafficking is currently generating approximately $150 billion in profits a year. So what will it really take to combat sex trafficking, and how can the church lead the way?
1. SEE SEX WORKERS AS VICTIMS
When the woman caught in the act of adultery was dragged before Jesus, most people saw her nakedness and sin and rushed to condemn. Jesus, however, saw a woman who needed rescuing. Yes, she had sinned, but what she needed first was to be told “I don’t condemn you.”
Exodus Cry, a non-profit dedicated to eradicating sex trafficking, recently released a video on Facebook that powerfully illustrates the need to see women in prostitution as those “with the fewest choices.” The video outlines how most “choose” prostitution as children, and are influenced by prior sexual abuse, poverty, addiction or mental illness. The video quotes a former prostitute as saying “when I think about my choices it was these: have men on and inside me or suffer hopelessness and hunger.”
Is prostitution really a choice? Share this video and help expose the truth. #notachoice #humantrafficking #sextrafficking
Posted by Exodus Cry on Thursday, January 11, 2018
2. CONTRIBUTE TO A CAUSE
There are many great organizations, many founded by Christians, dedicated to the cause of eradicating human trafficking. International Justice Mission specifically provides multiple ways to help, and specifically provides churches with options for involvement.
3. LEARN ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY
For some churches, the “far away” problem of sex trafficking is silently happening in their own neighborhoods. One of the most needed action steps in America on this topic is education, especially for pastors asking God what they can do. Compassion International provides a list of ways to spot sex trafficking in your community. The Human Trafficking Hotline provides statistics on human trafficking that can be broken down by state. For churches located in metropolitan areas, contact local law enforcement agencies to ask about the specific sex trafficking problems in the area.
This process of education could be the most important action step to take, because as more Christians prayerfully learn about the problem, God is mobilizing them to take action. Exodus Now was launched out of a prayer movement at Kansas City’s International House of Prayer. Dressember, which recently raised $2 million to fight sex trafficking, was started when Blythe Hill, a young Christian woman living in Los Angeles, found out that her city was one of the worst spots for sex trafficking in the country.
INCREASED AWARENESS MATTERS
While it’s easy to feel that the problem of sex trafficking is vast, and so global, that it’s impossible to make a difference, each Christian’s choice to engage matters. The more money, prayer, time and action spent combating sex trafficking gives hope to girls like Mora.
Mcmahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, a New York-based non-profit for abused children, first learned about Mora when she was arrested in a police sting operation. A staff member gave Mora her phone number and told her that if she ever wanted help, to reach out. Three weeks later Mora did, and today she is clean and sober, and her pimp is in prison for 25 years after Mora testified against him.
So today, a day that brings awareness to the abused and vulnerable, it’s worth asking God how he would have us be Jesus for the millions of Moras around the world.
Involvement in this complex problem may be as simple as educating your congregation on the realities of human trafficking and praying as a congregation that God would shed light on this dark evil. Share the list of ways to spot someone being trafficked on Sunday. Show the Exodus Cry video at your service. Pray the prayer offered by Compassion International. Consider participating in IJM’s Freedom Sunday in September.
Because if God’s church mobilizes together, today could be about more than human trafficking awareness. It could be another step toward its eradication.