How to Build Your Church’s Plan to Stop Human Trafficking

by Lisa Adams, Director of Missions on July 17, 2015


I’m currently taking the summer off and one of the nice things about the timing is that I get to be home with my boys while they are off school. I get to take them to baseball practices, batting cages, swimming pools, and the library. We get to spend time reading, talking, biking, and playing tennis. It’s delightful.  As a working 40-something woman, I know how lucky I am to have a mid-career break to love on my family. In my quiet suburban neighborhood, we are living the dream.  If I’m honest, it’s easy to avoid what’s going on all over the world. I’d rather live in this dream world filled with a slight breeze scented with lilac and chlorine, and sounds of kids playing and sprinkled with sun kissed cheeks. It’s peaceful, happy and safe.

But that’s not the case for over 21 million people. They live in constant fear of being raped, beaten, and enslaved. They are children and widows.  Boys and girls.  They live in every part of the world.  Human trafficking is one of the largest human rights crisis in our time.  Their world is not one of dreams, but of nightmares. 

God is desperate for His Church to respond.

Through reading and studying the Bible, building relationships with some amazing church partners, attending a few conferences, and joining a couple of small groups, I found that God cares deeply about justice and human trafficking and that I needed to, too.  
 
The word “justice” is in Bible over 1500 times.  The Hebrew word for justice,mishpat, means giving people what they are due. Which might mean punishment, but more often means care and protection. The Bible frequently links widows, orphans, the poor, and immigrants to the work of justice. Guess who the victims of human trafficking are? 

Human trafficking is a faith issue. Those of us who believe that the Bible is the word of God need to respond to this crisis. The Church should be leading the charge when it comes to offering care and protection to victims of human trafficking. But how do we do that?  How do we tackle a crisis, a global giant, that is bigger than it’s ever been and more profitable than the US banking industry and big oil?

As the Director of Missions at a church, I needed to help the church develop a strategy for how we would engage.  The following is what I think works the best.  We tried many things and failed over and over again.  And we still don’t have it locked in.  The struggle is real!   But we are going to keep trying!  The strategy I recommend is about putting our faith into action and leveraging our affluence and influence.  

To leverage our affluence:

1. Develop a plan for giving. How much does your church budget allot to fighting human trafficking and/or supporting justice?  How much do you allot in your own personal budget?  We need to stand behind and beside organizations that are on the front lines trying to rescue victims, prosecute     traffickers, and care for the survivors. My personal favorites are World Vision, International Justice Mission, Restore International, The A21 Campaign, Love 146 and the Polaris Project.  Create a committee or have a committed group of people vet out the organizations and pick one that resonates with your community of people.  And then build a relationship with them. Get to know the organization and it’s staff.  They will be some of your greatest teachers. 

2. Think about what your church is purchasing. Where do you buy things?  Everyday, we influence the profitability of human trafficking and slavery by our purchasing power.  Where does your coffee come from?  Who made your t-shirt?  As consumers, we need to be educating ourselves and making sure that we are not unknowingly supporting slavery.  If you need help starting, slaveryfootprint.com has a great tool that you can use and Julie Clawson’s Every Day Justice (the global impact of our everyday choices) is a great read.

To leverage our influence:

1. Encourage your church to pray. Our greatest weapon against sin and evil is prayer. How often does your prayer during the weekend services include justice and a plea for those who are slaves?  In your personal prayer time, how often are you including the victims, traffickers, workers, and volunteers?  For me, I’ve had to be reminded about the power of prayer. I forget how big God is and how much He wants me to be praying and involved in the work of justice in this world. If you do nothing else with your influence, please pray.

5 Ways Your Church Can Pray for an End to Human Trafficking

2. Educate your church.  You have the ability to educate yourself and the people around you. Perhaps it’s the pulpit or maybe it’s Facebook. You have a platform somewhere in your life where you can tell others about human trafficking and God’s heart for justice. Think about leading a small group, starting a book club, preaching a sermon series, hosting a speaker, or inviting friends to a movie night. Wherever God has you, He wants to use you.  And if you haven’t done any of these things for yourself, this would be a great time add some books and movies to your must read/see list.  I included a list of books and movies below that would be great.

3. Be an advocate. In the US, we have the opportunity to influence our government.  You can help get anti-slavery legislation passed. You can ask your members of congress to sign bills and sponsor legislation. This past April, I met with both my senators and my representatives office in Washington DC. My School House Rock education finally came in handy.  A current piece of legislation that you could ask your Senator to pass (the House has passed this) is the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act. It’s bi-partisan and it asks for funding from the US, other countries and private donors. Honestly, its a beautiful picture of everyone working together for justice.  

This world is filled with broken people and systems.  The darkness and pain can seem overwhelming. But God has given us both affluence and influence to use for His kingdom. To use for His glory. To be His light in dark places.  I know that one day, my children and grandchildren are going to ask me about what I did to end human trafficking. And I pray that I can tell them stories of rescue and redemption.  Stories of how God showed up and justice prevailed. And I hope that each of you are a part of it.

 

Mobilize your church to end the exploitation of children in Bangladesh.  Find out more here.

Recommended books:
Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma
Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd Weber
Half The Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
The Just Church by Jim Martin
The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen
Justice Awakening: How You and Your Church Can Help End Human Trafficking by Eddie Byun
Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade-and How We Can Fight It by David Batstone

Recommended movies:
Not My Life
Half The Sky
Call + Response
Nefarious
Free The Slaves    

Lisa Adams is the former Director of Missions at Crossroads Church in Woodbury, MN.  Check out her blog at www.livingoutlove.org
back
Help Syrian Children Refugees /matthew25challenge/
Help Syrian Children Refugees /pastor-resources/small-groups/m25-group-guide.html
/pastor-resources/small-groups/lent-guide-2019.html