Human Trafficking continues to thrive during the pandemic through utilizing online sources to groom and lure children and teenagers. With more people online, awareness of human trafficking and prevention is needed, now more than ever. Knowing human trafficking exists is the beginning of understanding what to do. Gaining a knowledge of what human trafficking is and being willing to educate others, intervene where possible, and take a stand against it can be preventative and restorative.
Micah 6:8 says, “What does the Lord require of you, to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Those entrapped by human trafficking need us to live out this Scripture. With human trafficking being the second largest criminal industry in the world and the fastest growing criminal industry, it stands to reason that it is one of Satan’s fiercest strongholds. Therefore, one needs to carefully pray as they seek guidance from the Lord on how he would have them respond to this issue. It is important to become aware and to learn all you can about human trafficking.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world because human beings can be sold repeatedly every day. According to the Department of Justice, human trafficking is defined as to recruit, harbor, transport, provide, or obtain a person for labor or commercial sex, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purposes of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. In most states, cases involving the commercial sexual exploitation of minors under 18 years old are not required to prove force, fraud, or coercion.
The Baptist Friendship House
As a Send Relief Missionary, I help fight against human trafficking in North America and assist human trafficking survivors through Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans, Louisiana. I clearly remember the first time I saw the National Human Trafficking Hotline number, 888-3737-888, come across my phone screen. Together with my staff, we work to provide shelter or transportation to safety for human trafficking survivors. The first call received from the hotline connected us with a young lady from another state. I was able to make sure she was safe and went to meet her.
When meeting someone, we take backpacks with a Bible, hygiene articles, snacks, socks, clothing, small fleece blanket, and other commonly needed items (See www.sendrelief.org for backpack information). The items in the backpacks meet a need, build a relationship, and change lives. Due to the trauma victims experience, often leaving them with no possessions of their own, providing them with these needed items shows concern and builds trust. Tess, the young lady, was excited to receive the backpack. Trust was built, and she shared her story.
Tess had been tricked into a trafficking situation from posting her vulnerable situation online. A predator saw the information she had posted and lured her with the promise of a job that would ease all of her financial stress. To Tess, the job offer sounded great and would provide her the opportunity to take care of her little girl. The job seemed legitimate, and Tess left her little girl with her mom to go to work.
Once the human trafficker got her away from her home, he introduced her to other girls and told her he had an escort service. The trafficker explained how an escort service functions and told Tess he would place an advertisement for her on social networking sites. He explained that people would call the number on the advertisement, set up an appointment with her, and she would meet them in their hotel rooms where they would pay her for sexual services. The trafficker committed fraud. He misled Tess into thinking he had an honest business.
Most people would question why Tess did not run at this point. She probably would have, but the trafficker used coercion and told her if she wanted to see her little girl alive again, she would do what he told her to do. Tess was trafficked through five different states before she met someone she trusted enough to tell part of her story. The person had seen a billboard with the human trafficking hotline number and told Tess she needed to call. Tess called the number, and we had the opportunity to intervene. We were able to get her safe, get her needs met, and get her back home to family.
How you can help
Many calls have come our way since that first call. Partnering with law enforcement and our local human trafficking task force has been valuable in assisting others. Manipulation, disasters, the pandemic, and social media continue to be a driving force behind human trafficking. I encourage people to utilize resources at Send Relief and Baptist Friendship House to learn about human trafficking and seek ways to make a difference in one’s church and community.
Prayer is the key to making you aware of what God is leading you to do. Know the signs of trafficking. Memorize the human trafficking hotline number to report trafficking if you see it or to give to someone you think may be entrapped. Look up your state’s report card at www.sharedhope.org to learn about the laws against human trafficking in your state and advocate for stronger laws.
We can all make a difference in helping those ensnared in human trafficking. We have the mindset of helping others one at a time, otherwise one can get overwhelmed with the stories and statistics of those in need. As we drove one young lady to the airport for a flight to safety, she pulled her Bible from her backpack and said, “I have my Bible and a ticket to a new beginning.” You can join the fight against human trafficking and help others find a ticket to a new beginning, one life at a time.