January: Human Trafficking Awareness Month. It happens here.
Human trafficking is a terrifying reality for more people than we could ever imagine. Generally defined, human trafficking is modern-day slavery for more than 27 million individuals today, many of whom are young people. Human trafficking can take several forms, including domestic servitude and forced labor, child soldiering, organ trafficking, and the most common: sex trafficking and prostitution, which comprises approximately 80 percent of all trafficking victims (June 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report, US Department of State).
Living in poverty is a major risk factor for being trafficked. Recruiters present desperate people with new and exciting opportunities, sometimes billed as work in a restaurant, work as a model, or any other occupation that guarantees income. Thrilled to have a way to support their family, many people will jump at the opportunity to work and are willing to move or travel for this particular career. Lured under false pretenses, these victims are then forced to work in poor conditions without pay, and many are abused and threatened. Many are either physically or mentally restrained from escaping their situation.
When we think the needs of others, homelessness and hunger are usually at the top of the list. But human trafficking is a horrifying issue that deserves our attention. Even local cases of human trafficking have made headlines in the past several weeks. A young Chinese woman was rescued from a sex trafficking situation in Windsor Locks, a heart-wrenching story in our own backyard. Between 2009 and 2010, there have been 170 known victims of human trafficking in Connecticut, according to the Hartford Courant. This is real. And it’s happening here.
As Ephesians 5:13 states, “Everything exposed by the light becomes visible - and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” To bring light to such situations, the Serving and Youth Ministry Teams of Gales Ferry United Methodist Church will be hosting a presentation from Barnaba Institute on Saturday, January 19th at 7 PM in Jo Ann Koe Hall. Barnaba Institute is one of our state’s most proactive human trafficking organizations that seeks to inform and educate the general public about modern-day slavery, prevention, and how we can help victims rebuild their lives. Human trafficking may seem like a tragic issue that is too extensive to combat, but we have hope in Christ; everything will be made new. We have a part to play. This is where we start.
“All the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe - people and things, animals and atoms - get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of His death, His blood poured down from the cross.” Colossians 1:20 (MSG)
This program is appropriate for audiences 13+.