Tag Archives: human trafficking

Slavery? Still?

Pinch me, please, and remind me that we live in 2012.  Remind me that slavery was abolished in most northern American states in 1783 after the American Revolution. Remind me that the Constitution’s 13th amendment – which abolished slavery in the entire United States –  was ratified in 1865.

How then can slavery still exist in the United States?

It does.

Not only does it exist “somewhere” in the United States, it happens in my state – in my city.  And that makes me so, so sad.  The quote below is taken from an article in today’s online edition of the Twin Cities Daily Planet:

…because of a large immigrant population, northern ports, and a long border with Canada, Minnesota has become one of the areas most heavily targeted as a spot for labor and sexual trafficking.

This is happening in my state, in my city – maybe on my block for all I know.

In fact, it has even bumped into my professional world.  One of my truancy cases turned out to be much more complicated than a student simply not logging on to her computer to do school work.  As the case unraveled, truancy was the least of our concerns as it became evident that this young lady was a victim of the sex trade and human trafficking.  To this day, I wonder what the outcome of the situation was.  I can only hope, only pray, that redemption was part of her story.

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A few years ago, through one of those “God” moments where people come into your life and stay…and you are thankful, I was invited to attend a fundraiser/awareness/info night for International Justice Mission.  If you want to hear the back story of the woman who was at the bottom of this, click here and read.  But – that night planted a seed in me to know more and to consider how I might do more.  It has taken some time, and I am still not sure what this means for me personally or for our family collectively…but we continue to seek what God has for us in this area.

Last night, my family joined 500 other people at a celebration and awareness event held by International Justice Mission at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis.  The most compelling part of the night for me was that we were shown the new film put out by IJM: At the End of Slavery.  The film highlights the work being done around the world to combat slavery and human trafficking.  It also reveals the overwhelming number of people in bondage for various reasons.

There is a great need as human lives is now the third most “sold” commodity after drugs and arms.

Our family has attempted to learn more about this great need.  In fact, my husband and a team of concerned peeps have even brought information about IJM to our church through the annual Freedom Sunday services.  According to IJM and US state department statistics, millions of people remain in the grip of slavery around the world and in our own country.  While IJM works almost exclusively in international fields by training local law enforcers, supporting investigators, and creating a collaborative model including aftercare for victims, other agencies such as Breaking Free in Minneapolis/St Paul work inside the United States in similar models.  Check into a “men only” organization – MATTOO–  that is demanding change as well.

How can this still be happening? In 2012?

In his speech to the Anti-Slavery Society following the close of the Civil War, Frederick Douglass warned them – and warns us – that slavery will not go away:

It has been called by a great many names, and it will call itself by yet another name; and you and I and all of us had better wait and see what new form this old monster will assume, in what new skin this old snake will come forth.

He was right.  The old snake has new skin, and that monster is destroying the lives of men, women, and children here in our country and in countries around the world.

As we left last night, our family realized that awareness is truly a first step, and we are beyond that step now.  We need to move into the action stage.

Awareness is an important first step in getting rid of human slavery and human trafficking.

  • Do we know that this is happening?

  • Do we care?

  • Do we pray for their freedom?

  • Do we see it happening in our cities?  Would we know how to recognize it?

  • For more information about awareness, see the IJM website.

Action is needed in this issue.  How can you act?

  • Share your vision with others and raise awareness in those who have not heard about this horrible reality.  You could host a screening of the film that we saw! Click herefor more information.
  • Prayer is vital.  Battles must be fought in person, and those battles need prayer support.
  • Funding is necessary.  Be creative and think outside the box – how could you support IJM?
  • Consider a career with IJM.

As a family, we are unsure what our action will be.  Joining in the prayer time last night should not be the last prayer moment that we have on behalf of those who fight slavery.  How can we mobilize our community and our friends to see this as an issue worth writing to their congress-person about?  How can we heighten awareness in the people whom we see every day in our schools and work places?

What is our next step?

That is the question for us to day….is it a question for you as well?

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Guest Post: A Poem by the Boy

If this does not make you think, maybe you should read it again…and again…and again.

Peaceful Murder

by Josiah Bender

She used to live in happiness,

‘Til all she knew was torn away.

For her family was poor,

And needed the money offered.

She was five, had barely lived,

Before she was forced to die.

Inside the room,

The dark, dark room,

She would lie upon the bed.

Until, one at a time,

Men came would take her life again,

Would take the rose that she once was,

And choke it ‘til it died.

Naked, exposed, unable to fight,

She would lie upon the bed.

And every sound was like a beast,

And every noise was like a fiend,

And everything was like a Reaper,

Which came to carry out,

As it always did,

The peaceful murder.

And she forgot her life,

That she had known,

Before she had died.

And soon she came to think,

That she had always been in the room.

That she was bread in captivity,

For the hungry men that came to take her life.

The darkness used to frighten her,

But then it became her friend.

They would play games together,

And talk of things that never had truly been.

And the darkness began to whisper,

Wise and wonderful words.

That she could be free,

That she could escape,

That she could know life.

And when a man,

One of many,

Came to kill her again,

She grabbed his throat,

And hugged him tight,

Until she could hug him no more.

And then it was him who lay,

Helpless upon the bed,

And she ran and ran,

Until she thought she was safe,

And she turned to laugh with her friend,

The darkness,

But the darkness was not there.

All that was there was a man,

A man who used to take her life.

And he had come to do it again,

If only once more.

She used to be happy,

She used to be safe,

She used to have all she might want.

Until the day that was taken from her,

Until the day she died.

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Pray Today

The Super Bowl is a big day…for football, food, and sex.

Do a Google seach of “trafficking” and “Super Bowl.” Read the stats about thhe thousands of people in demand for sexual acts over this weekend.

Then pray.

Yes – enjoy the game. We will. Our entire church is invited to watch with us.

But pray.

Reference article: Marilyn Gardner’s post from yesterday about human trafficking and the Super Bowl (this woman has been one step ahead of me all week with topics. I think we are soul family members; we already are good friends though we have not seen each other in over ten years.)

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What Will It Take?

Having children was the second best thing that ever happened to me. The first was that my huz asked me to marry him.

*insert the awwwws here*

We were married between our junior and senior years in college.  We had thought we should wait until he had nearly finished graduate school before we had kids.  But that was not what God had planned.  Without any planning on our part, we had kids right away.  What I mean by that is, we were not planning on the kids.  We had done the “planning” that one should go through to hold off on having kids, but poor medical advice – twice – meant that we had two children before our 23rd birthdays.  Wow, huh?  It has actually been a huge blessing in our lives.  They are now nearly 15 and 16 years old, and we are blessed by them immensely.

My son is an intellectual, funny, and serious young man.  He is also full of passion.  Ever since he was small, he has sought to right injustice.  When someone was blamed for something that someone else did on the playground at school, he would argue with the teachers until he was nearly disciplined himself.  He has always stood up for the rights and needs of others.  While attending a missions conference at our church when he was quite young, he felt a call to go into missions “when he grew up.”  He saw himself becoming a doctor on the mission field in Cameroon.  A few years later, he – along with my huz and my daughter – actually visited Cameroon.  It was a life changing experience for all of them.

Things have changed as he has grown up, but he remains passionate about the call to missions.  Last year, after spending a season on the debate team, he struggled with the idea of becoming a doctor when he found he was a very good debater.  We reminded him that God calls, and God uses the gifts, talents, and abilities that He gives us.  There are other ways to serve God…being a doctor in Cameroon is just one way.

As it happened, some young ladies in our church are very passionate about injustice in the world as well.  Their area of focus happens to be on human trafficking – educating the public about it as well as assisting to free those who are victims of trafficking.  Our church hosted a weekend of education ending in “Freedom Sunday.”  It was a great event and brought in speakers from several agencies such as International Justice Mission and Love146,  who are working in these areas internationally.  Another organization, Breaking Free, works locally to help woman escape lives of being prostituted, and MATTOO (Men Against the Trafficking of Others) is an organization working to raise awareness and educate men about similar issues.

My son really got riled up about the information shared during that weekend.  He started considering if he could use his arguing skills in the area of law as a way to serve and support organizations that work against human trafficking.  He has a great idea – to start a group call TATTOO (Teens Against the Trafficking of Others).

His passion is contagious, and he is convincing.  He does his research, and he knows that this problem is not going to go away on its own.  If just one more person starts caring and sharing about the issue, maybe one less person will be trafficked.

Yesterday, my son’s Facebook status that made me stop, consider, and have a little cry.

Jane is six years old. Jane’s family is poor. Jane’s family doesn’t have enough money to make it through the day. Jane has to be sold. Jane is bought. Jane is put in a bedroom. Jane is tied naked to the bed. Jane is confused.  The door opens. A man walks in. The door closes. Jane is confused. An hour later, the man leaves. Jane is crying. Jane is confused.

Every day, Jane is visited by men; bad men. If Jane tries to run away, she is beaten or put in the Dark Room. Jane is twelve. Jane has been visited by over 5000 men. Jane has stopped trying to run away. Jane is confused. Jane doesn’t know why the men hurt her. Jane doesn’t know why she’s treated this way. Jane is confused. Jane doesn’t know why she should live anymore. Jane isn’t alive anymore. Jane died when she was six.

Now Jane is just an empty shell.

But Jane can be saved. Jane doesn’t have to be dead forever.

What will it take for us to see that there are millions of Jane’s in the world, and each of them needs to be saved? What will it take?

What will it take?

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