Just a few weeks ago I shared about a women’s conference I attended at my church. The speaker, Christine Caine from Hillsong Church in Australia, spoke to us about the 27 million people worldwide who have fallen victim to human sex trafficking. I decided that the best thing I could do to fight this evil against largely women and children was to shed a little light. Light always dispels darkness, and this is a really dark issue. So today is October 21st and in honor of the A21 Campaign (A movement to eradicate human slavery across the globe), I wanted to continue to shed a little light. I’d like to share a story of a young European girl who was helped by the efforts of the A21 Campaign.
Penelope’s family was in need of money, or they would be unable to survive. When a friend offered to smuggle her across the Greek border and set her up with a “well paying job,” it seemed like an answer to her prayers. She had never had the chance to travel outside of her village’s boundaries, and the idea of an adventure was exciting!
Shortly after she arrived in Greece, Penelope was cleaning a room when “her boss” came in and locked the door behind him. Over the next few months, she was forced to endure things no teenaged girl should ever have to be subjected to. What had seemed like such a great opportunity to help her family ended up being the very thing that destroyed her childhood.
But Penelope managed to escape. After months of planning, she was able to overcome her fears; it was better to die trying to escape than to remain and die of a disease or from a violent beating. While her boss was sleeping, she stole his keys, unlocked the front door, and ran for her life. When her boss awoke and noticed she was missing, Penelope was already safe in a police car that was headed to the A21 Shelter.
When she first arrived, Penelope had an empty look on her face, and was gripped with fear. Today she is smiling because she knows she is loved, she is valued, and has hope for her future. Penelope is currently working very hard to learn the Greek language so she can complete high school, and enter college to become a nurse. Her biggest dream is to be able to help people.
You might be thinking that human trafficking is not a problem here in the States. As Americans we are far too advanced a society to tolerate such as this. Actually that’s not true. One community in Maine is fighting against the problem in their own back yard. Officials stated that they received twenty tips in one year related to human trafficking. Here is a short excerpt from an article on the WGME 13 website:
“When you’re able to make money at it, it’s going to draw more people,” says Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Perry. “And with the profit motive of doing this, it’s going to get violent. People are going to protect their assets – whether it’s the people who are being exploited or their turf.” Police say it’s hard to get specific numbers on human trafficking in Maine because it’s often prosecuted as a different crime. They’re asking for the community’s help to prevent the problem from growing.
So what can we do? How can we fight this evil among us? How can we save those who are living this nightmare? We can shed a little light. Our best, next, opportunity is coming up on November 11, 2011. Yep, that’s 11/11/11. Easy to remember, right? It’s called the KEY@FREE Movement. All you need to do is wear a key on a necklace around your neck. You can get the A21 keys from their website at www.theA21campaign.org or you can just wear one you have already. The idea is, that when people ask you why you are wearing the key you can tell them about the issue of human trafficking… Awareness: It’s the KEY to their freedom. You can shed a little light. It’s easy and it won’t cost you anything.
Today, though, I’d like you to join me and pray for the abolition of the sex slave industry worldwide. Are you unsure where to start? Here’s my prayers for today… Maybe these will give you a place to begin…
1. Pray protection over those fighting this battle on the front lines.
2. Pray for conviction of those who are paying for the services of these young girls. That their very attempts to participate in this activity are thwarted at every turn. (Remember, no customers, no business)
3. Pray for awareness in the countries where this is happening to poor and uneducated families. Pray that as A21 and other groups move into the schools and orphanages to teach about human trafficking, that they will unhindered in their efforts.
4. Pray for those who have been sold into slavery. For their protection and for their rescue. For opportunities of escape and for safety when they do.
There you go. Will you pray with me? I love the song from Hillsong, “Hosanna”. In it there is a line that says,
“Break my heart for what breaks Yours. Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause.”
May our hearts break over this, and let us do what we can to make a difference. Shed a little light.