On Dec. 31, 2019, President Donald Trump declared the month of January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
In his signed statement, President Trump issued a challenge to every person in the U.S. to join the fight to end human trafficking.
"I call upon industry associations, law enforcement, private businesses, faith-based and other organizations of civil society, schools, families and all Americans to recognize our vital roles in ending all forms of modern slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities aimed at ending and preventing all forms of human trafficking."
In other words, every person has a responsibility to do their part to end the tragedy of human trafficking.
First, we must clearly be able to identify and understand what constitutes human trafficking.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is the means by which individuals are forcibly or fraudulently coerced into some type of labor or sex act. However, sex trafficking is the most commonly reported - with 70% of female victims being trafficked specifically for sexual exploitation.
The common belief is that human trafficking only takes place in large cities or outside of the United States. But, In Our Backyard, an organization that has worked tirelessly for the past 10 years to eradicate sex trafficking, reports that trafficking occurs in every zip code in America.
The Department of Health and Human Services reports that human trafficking is the fastest growing enterprise in the world. This industry generates a profit of more than $150 billion per year, as reported by the U.S. Department of State.
Statistics show the enormity of the problem, especially in relation to sex trafficking.
—The U.S. Department of Justice reports that one child is trafficked for sexual exploitation reasons every two minutes.
—A21, a non-profit organization seeking to rescue trafficked humans, reports that millions are in bondage to trafficking around the world. Only about 1% of them are ever rescued.
—In 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice convicted 526 traffickers—with 501 of those convictions being predominantly related to sex trafficking.
—The National Human Trafficking Hotline reported receiving 10,949 calls in 2018. Of them, 7,869 were sex-trafficking related.
Though they may seem shocking, don't let these statistics prevent you from becoming a part of the solution. As Christine Caine, founder of A21 shares, "When a lot of people do a little, it adds up and makes a difference."
Thankfully, countless organizations within the United States and around the world are doing their part to end the trafficking epidemic. However, it's not enough for churches to merely make a financial contribution to their efforts.
Instead, it's time to tackle the silent issues facing the members of your church. According to a study conducted by Pure Desire Ministries, 68% of church-going men struggle with pornography. In 2003, Today's Christian Woman reported that 1 out of every 6 women, including Christian women, also struggle with porn.
Commonly, people associate massage parlors, prostitution and gentlemen's clubs with sex trafficking. However, there is a direct correlation between pornography and trafficking.
—Rescue: Freedom, an organization dedicated to rescuing and restoring women and children from sexual slavery, reports that 49% of sexually exploited women surveyed shared that pornography was made of them while they were being sold for sex.
—The National Center on Sexual Exploitation reports that traffickers frequently show their victims pornography in order to train them on the sexual acts they will be expected to perform.
Noel Bouché, executive director of pureHOPE, explained,
"While pornographic content includes trafficked victims from around the world, porn consumers aren't told anything about the performers, including which ones may have been trafficked from an early age. Regular users of internet pornography are likely consuming pornography that includes adult and child victims of sex trafficking."
In order to join forces with the president this month, the church must be willing to step out of its comfort zone.
Now is the time for leaders to speak out about pornography and sexual addiction. In doing so, mention how these things contribute to human trafficking. Taking the time to raise awareness is often what contributes to change.
Beyond that though, individuals need to believe they can become a part of the solution. For this reason, it's important for leaders to share a message that both challenges and inspires individuals to boldly step forward to pursue healing. Messages should include solid reminders of God's grace, mercy, love and forgiveness.
Often, those struggling with pornography are already dealing with an intense amount of guilt and shame in their lives. Frequently, they are driven by fear of judgment or condemnation. As a result, they tend to suffer in silence while their marriage and family pay the price. Often, they feel as if they have tried everything—yet failed. Some have even reached a point of wondering whether or not God hears them anymore. They need their hope to be rekindled. And right now, the church has an amazing opportunity to set the captives free.
Offer a Solution
Understand this, it's not about praying more or trying harder. In fact, trying harder will only tighten the noose of bondage in a person's life. Instead, it's about finding your identity in Christ. And before this can be done, individuals have to be able to identify the lies that they have operated out of for a really long time. Thankfully, there is a small group study available to help people begin this journey.
The Conquer Series, a 10-week cinematic study created to help men break free from the bondage of sexual sin, has been helping more than 1 million men in over 80 countries begin their journey to a life free from porn.
Men are going to learn why it is important to renew the mind. The various activities will help identify areas of past pain, trauma, rejection, neglect or critical words that have significantly contributed to the cycle of sin in their lives. And don't dismiss the importance of having a brotherhood surrounding you. Winning this war will require the prayers, support and encouragement of others. As men sign up to attend a Conquer group, they are reminded that there is strength in numbers.
In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus says, "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are assembled in My name, there I am in their midst."
So what do you say? Will you stand with President Trump to seek an end to human trafficking? Are you willing to help men in your area break free from a life guided by porn? Does the church want 2020 be a year of freedom and restoration?
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