In 2008, I was sitting in the auditorium at Willow Creek listening to Gary Haugen, the founder of International Justice Mission, talk about slavery. I was shocked to learn that in this day and age, we have people who are kept as slaves. I knew that there were factories in third world countries where the workers were paid $1 a day, but I had no idea there were actual slaves! Gary started talking about a 10 year old girl that they had rescued from a brothel and my heart broke. I just could not believe that there were underage girls out there that were being forced to have sex for money. From that moment on my world was never the same; God placed on my heart a passion to see the end of modern day slavery, and to work with girls rescued from sex trafficking.
Slavery today takes many forms and is in over 161 counties worldwide. It is estimated that there are 27 million slaves in the world today and the majority are women and children. It is the 2nd largest criminal activity in the world just below drug trafficking, taking in $32 billion a year. While the causes of slavery are systemic, poverty seems to be the biggest factor. Often a poor family will “sell” their child to a business owner and the child will be forced to work 18-20 hours a day with no pay and will be beaten if quotas are not made. Young women struggling to make ends meet will be enticed by a modeling job in another country only to have their passports taken away and forced with the threat of violence to their families to work in the sex trade. Men and boys from Latin America are told of great jobs in the United States, and agree to be smuggled in and then are forced with the threat of immigration and jail, to work in the fields harvesting crops for no pay. In the United States, a victim of sex trafficking often comes from a troubled home and is easily manipulated by a pimp to believe that he loves her and that selling her body is only temporary until they can have enough money to buy a home together. Yet, she is beaten if she does not make the required amount of money for the night. The victims often feel helpless and alone with no hope.
There is hope! There are many organizations that are rescuing slaves and giving them the resources and support to start over. God is moving in the hearts of many people and there is more awareness now than ever before of this horrific crime. On Saturday, April 27 at 6pm, we are showing the movie Nefarious, a documentary about the global sex trade. Also, we are going to learn what Bright Hope International is doing in Northern India to help end this injustice. Please join us and learn what you can do to so the end of slavery in our lifetime!
For more information on Modern Day Slavery:
The End It Movement http://enditmovement.com/
Polaris Project http://www.polarisproject.org/
International Justice Mission http://www.ijm.org/
Thanks for reading,
Vickie Kerr (Guest blogger)