Human trafficking is a worldwide enterprise with a revenue estimated to be in the range of $32 billion per year, according to the United Nations Office and Drugs and Crime (UNODC.org).
Equality Now (equalitynow.org), a charity focused on women and children trafficked for sex, estimates the total trafficking market in the world for all purposes (labor, servitude, sex slavery, etc.) to be in excess of $150 billion per year and the trafficking of women and girls for sex to be $99 billion per year.
But let’s not quibble over the amounts. Either amount, any amount is wrong.
Any life forced into slavery is an affront to the gospel. Any life! Anywhere! Throughout Scripture we are told to set the captives free, Isaiah 61 speaks of being anointed to bring Good News to the captives.
In a world torn by threats of war and threats of racial divide there is one battle that crosses all cultures, all races, all nations. It is the battle of modern day slavery. It is a battle for our age. It is blight on this generation that can be addressed by the power of the Gospel. But how will they hear? Who will set the captives free?
There are three leading contributors to modern day slavery and specifically sex trafficking of children. First is overwhelming poverty. When there is no source of food and water, no means of even a meager existence and survival, people become desperate and consider actions they would not normally consider. When a mother of three children sees them all starving to death and sees only death as the outcome for them all, she can be tempted to sell one to save the other two. The choice to sell one seems astonishing. But the choice to let them all die seems to be an unreasonable alternative. That is when the trafficker swoops in to “save the day” and steal the life of a child.
Second, where there is limited education a parent can be convinced that by selling a child to a visitor to their village who comes offering jobs and a future, a parent can accept the story that this visitor is sent as a great benefactor and the trafficker swoops in to “save the day” and steal the life of a child.
And finally, there are those situations where a child is sold by a parent who feels they can offer their child no future. By selling the child, the child will die young because they are abused but will come sooner to their opportunity for reincarnation and a better life next time. In swoops the trafficker to “save the day” and steal the life of a child.
Urgently, the answer is the Gospel. Understanding that man is made in the image and likeness of God the Creator and has imputed value as His special creation is an integral part of effective evangelism. Man is not like animals, trees, fish and fowl. Man has this likeness to God that puts him in position to know God, reflect God and experience God. When people come to the knowledge of the Gospel and that man lives a finite period on this earth and then enters eternity of Heaven or Hell, the decision to respect and protect the sanctity of a human life becomes the greatest barrier to trafficking of children or any person.
As the church, we are charged by God to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel that every people, tribe and tongue will know the name of the Savior. Along the way to doing this, we should help individuals; communities and people groups overcome severe poverty and limited education so that they listen to and understand the power of the Gospel.
What is your role in the modern day battle? What can you do to decrease and help eliminate the incredible statistics of profiteering from human trafficking? Do you know that this tragic “business” is rapidly growing in the US? There is place in the battle for every believer. Please, for the sake of the testimony of the Gospel, for the sake of those presently enslaved, find your place. Help your church find a place. Set the captives free. Want ideas of how to get started? Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR’S NOTE: Peter Livingston and his wife Debbie are modern day slavery abolitionists working with US based Incurable Fanatics to bring the gospel to people who are or could easily be enslaved. Formerly they served at First Southern, Del City, Okla, and then Concord Baptist Church Jefferson City.