How you can be an ally in the stand against human trafficking

The Baptist Friendship House and utilizing resources to make a difference

October 7, 2020

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.

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. 

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. 

Kay Bennett

Kay Bennett serves as a Send Relief Missionary as executive director of Baptist Friendship House, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Kay received a B.S. degree in Counseling Psychology from University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Divinity degree and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Counseling from New Orleans Baptist … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24