Human Trafficking and The Church

tess_franzenBy Tess Franzen (Director of FHA Human Rights Division)

Seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless and plead the widows’ cause. ~Isaiah 1:17

God calls His people to be a light in the darkness and the ambassadors of His kingdom. He also charges us to stand between innocence and evil in whatever ways He leads and provides. This is an incredible responsibility He has entrusted to His children!

The historical church had a prominent role in the fight against slavery in the Western world. They stood boldly for freedom; they did not give up, and they prevailed. The church still has a prominent role to play in the fight for freedom. Slavery exists today, even in America, in the harsh reality of human trafficking. And there is a role for the church today.

The church is uniquely equipped to combat human trafficking, and their role is essential in this war against evil. The collective consciousness of believers is pricked and wounded once they learn about human trafficking. They are outraged over the exploitation and abuse, but in many cases they aren’t sure how they can help.

People of faith often ask me about the work we’re doing to combat human trafficking and how they can get involved. Human trafficking is a complex human rights violation and criminal enterprise. Further, it is an offense against the God in whose image all people are created. Combating human trafficking requires a comprehensive approach, which means there’s something for everyone to do, especially in the body of believers.

The most important thing a believer can do to combat human trafficking is to pray, to seek the throne of God and ask for His guidance and intervention, to pray for the victims, and the survivors, that through Jesus they will be transformed into “thrivers”. They can pray for those who are actively working against trafficking, for wisdom, protection, and favor. Intercessory prayer is a vital component in this battle!

The prayer of a righteous person has great power (James 5:16)

The best way to end human trafficking is to prevent it from happening in the first place. In order to do this we must understand the contributing factors. At its heart, human trafficking is a failure to value individuals as the precious and unique creations of God that they are. It results from a cultural worship of sexuality and sexual gratification, and it is fueled by the rampant pornography industry. There is no entity on earth better equipped than the church to spearhead the cultural changes needed to remedy these sad realities.

Most trafficking victims come from fatherless homes, or even parentless homes. They are also single mothers struggling to care for their children. The breakdown of the family has many dire consequences, and human trafficking is one of them. Intact families insulate children from many of the vulnerabilities that lead other children into a world of exploitation and dehumanizing abuse. The church can continue to strengthen the family and protect the children by promoting fatherhood, personal responsibility, and sexual purity. The “fatherless” and “widows” of the Old Testament may well be today’s single mothers and fatherless children, and we must “seek justice” and “correct oppression” on their behalf.

Information is power, so it’s important to become informed on what human trafficking looks like in our region. The church is “salt and light” in our world, which means they are the embodiment of truth and a defense against evil. Believers can attend an awareness event, or host one at their church, school, or ministry. They can seek out resources and share them with others. This will provide people with the information needed to identify red flags and to spot the potential victims that are living in our midst. It will help them understand how traffickers lure individuals into their nets of exploitation. It will teach more parents, and those who work with children, how to be more effective in protecting their children, youth, and young adults from the risky behaviors that traffickers exploit.

The church has a role in serving the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of those who have been victims of human trafficking. The shattered hearts and lives that result from human trafficking will not be easily mended, but when the church wraps its heart and arms around these people, the healing can take place.

Trafficking survivors need short term emergency care and shelter. They need long term care, counseling, and mentoring in order to rebuild healthy lives from the ruins their perpetrators left them in. The church has the resources, the heart, and the Spirit necessary to provide for these needs.

Through financially supporting those who are working to combat human trafficking, the church can provide the means to strengthen the soldiers on the ground. Financial resources are needed to promote awareness through billboards, posters, fliers, events, and trainings. Those who serve victims and survivors need financial assistance to meet the short and long term needs of those they serve. The church can underwrite the work that is being done, and they can fund the visions of work yet to be started.

So, how can you get involved? How can you stand between at risk individuals and those who would exploit them? How can you help those who are being, or who have been, trafficked? How can you be part of creating a culture where all people are valued? How can you promote awareness and provide information to others? How can you be the change our world needs?

I would ask you to pray, to seek God and His guidance in answering these questions.
For more information on what’s being done in South Dakota and how you might be able to get involved in combating human trafficking, email Tess Franzen at:

Tess@FamilyHeritageAlliance.org

And may God bless each and every one of you!
Tess Franzen
Director of Human Rights Division
Family Heritage Alliance

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