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Human trafficking is not only a third world issue

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Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville Tennessee takes very seriously the commission as given in Matthew 25:18-20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Simply sitting in a pew and hearing sermons is not the way of life at Long Hollow. Instead, this is a body of believers committed to serving our neighbor, be it in the local community, throughout our nation as well as around the world. The troubling news is what evils that were considered a third-world problem, is now a global epidemic. If you are like me, you have heard the term “Human Trafficking” for many years; and again if you are like me, you thought it only exists in places like Thailand and Bulgaria; but you would be surprised to find it in your own local area, including affluent neighborhoods.

On February 16, 2014, Long Hollow hosted Christine Caine. For anyone who has seen Christine Caine speak, you know she speaks with rapid fire, laser directness which cannot be misunderstood, and is hilariously funny. The experience is like drinking water out of a fire hose. Having seen her at a Joyce Meyer conference some years back, I thought I was prepared; but I confess, I was not ready to be as challenged as I found myself. In the space of time that I saw her prior, the Lord has arrested her heart for the horror of human trafficking. She has started the “The A21 Campaign” and is working toward abolishing injustice in the 21st century. Their mission statement is as follows, “The A21 Campaign exists to abolish injustice in the 21st century through a comprehensive system of preventative measures, victim protection, prosecution of violators, and strategic partnerships.”

Trafficking statistics are staggering. According to thea21campaign.org

· Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately 39 billion USD annually.

· Of the estimated 30 million people in forced labor internationally, 58% of victims are subjected to commercial sexual servitude, specifically in the Americas, Europe and Central Asia.

· In recent years, the percentage of children trafficked has risen to 27%, with one out of every three victims a boy.

· 75% of recorded human trafficking victims are female, 59% of which are women.

· The International Organization of Labor estimates that 98% of sexual trafficking victims are female.

· Globally, convictions against traffickers are few in number, and of the 132 countries monitored by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 16% have not convicted a single individual for trafficking in persons.

· Concerning the sexual exploitation of trafficked human beings, there are a growing number of male victims, although services for these victims remain inadequate globally.

· Although most individuals involved in trafficking human beings are male, an increasing amount of women have been prosecuted and convicted, particularly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

· Women under the age of 18 are particularly vulnerable to re-trafficking, specifically during the period immediately following their escape and transition.

Again, as you read the statistics it sounds like foreign countries, far away from our “civilized” America. This is not true and woefully the statistics are heart breaking. The website www.thea21campaign.org addresses the matter in the U.S:

“According to the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report, the United States is both a source, as well as transit and destination country, for victims of human trafficking, including persons subjected to peonage, sex trafficking and forced labor. Around 41% of recorded victims trafficked for sexual purposes were US citizens, while 20% of forced labor victims were US citizens.64 Moreover, it is estimated that 85% of trafficked victims exploited sexually are women.65 The full scope of the problem has yet to be determined, as the crime of human trafficking is often intertwined with drug trafficking and prostitution.

Trafficking in the U.S. often occurs through street prostitution, massage parlors, brothels, and for labor in domestic service, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, hospitality industries, construction, health and elder care, and strip club dancing. U.S. citizen child victims are often runaways, troubled, and homeless youth, and Polaris estimates that 74% of recorded child trafficking cases involved sex trafficking. Foreign victims, on the other hand, are more often found in labor trafficking than sex trafficking. The top countries of origin for foreign victims in the fiscal year of 2012 were Thailand, Mexico, Philippines, Indonesia, Honduras, and Guatemala.”

Not everyone is called to respond to every ministry opportunity. However, everyone is called to ministry. Whether you work with A21 to abolish human trafficking or you are quietly helping your neighbor through a rough season, you are in ministry. If you are not in ministry, and these statistics horrify you as they do me, please prayerfully visit this website and consider getting involved. http://www.thea21campaign.org/index.php

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