You might not think you have much of a personal connection to human trafficking, but if you are a believer, be reminded that you were a slave. Jesus redeemed you from that slave master called sin. And He has given us freedom. Therefore, as freed slaves, we should have a heart for those who continue in bondage—whether spiritual or physical, and in many cases, it’s both. It should be our desire to continue in the path that Jesus set out for us in His earthly ministry: to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18).
So what can we do to fight against the international epidemic of modern-day slavery? At least 5 things.
1. Pray for the victims—and the oppressors.
Pray for the estimated 27 million slaves in our world today who are in bondage within affluent countries like America to Third-world countries like Haiti.
But an amazing thing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it’s a message not only for the oppressed, but also for the oppressors; not only to the victim, but to the perpetrators. Remember, “Love your enemies.” And don’t forget that God saved Saul of Tarsus, who was persecuting the Church. Our gut response would be, “Free the slaves, and to hell with the cruel criminals who are keeping them in bondage.” But the Gospel goes beyond that. The good news of Jesus crucified for sinners and victorious over death is a message of hope for both the slave and the human trafficker.
In reality, the human trafficker is a slave as well. The predators are slaves to lust, power, money and all kinds of perversion. The pimps, the predators, the pedophiles, the traffickers, the enslavers are shackled with bonds of a different kind. So, as Christians, we ought to pray for them. We ought to pray for the sex tourists who travel the world exploiting women and children. We ought to pray for the business owners who are taking advantage of their employees. The gospel is a message of hope for all who will repent and believe.
2. Raise awareness.
Raising awareness about this issue may not sound like an action point, but it is an extremely important component in tackling slavery. People need to know that this is happening, so it can be reported and prosecuted. One way to be aware is to read and inform yourself with resources such as The Slave Next Door by Kevin Bales.
3. Stop using porn.
As evil and degrading as pornography is, here’s another reason to never look at it. Porn is part of the problem. If you are looking at pornography, you are perpetuating the industry of sex trafficking.
I recently read a disturbing article, called “The Slave and the Porn Star: Sexual Trafficking and Pornography,” in the Journal of Human Rights and Civil Society, which is a publication of the Protection Project based at Johns Hopkins University. The authors show various connections between pornography and sexual exploitation. Many of the individuals who appear in pornography are slaves. They have been trafficked, drugged, manipulated in some way, and are forced to be part of this wicked business.
Then there are the forces of supply and demand, and the way that pornography creates more and more demand for the commercial sex industry. Pornography is like the gateway drug. People get addicted, and then they want something more. Pornography fuels prostitution (heightening the demand for sex), and a higher demand for sex means more lucrative opportunities for pimps, which means more women and children exploited by them for these purposes. So if you’re looking at porn, even if you’re not paying for it, you’re showing the advertisers and producers of pornography and all those involved in the sex business that demand is high, which then motivates them to shame and exploit even more people.
Think about that the next time you’re tempted to click on that website. Your momentary “pleasure” is contributing to the absolute devastation of women and girls and boys around the world.
4. Use your gifts.
What are your particular gifts and abilities that you could apply to the problem of human trafficking? There are many different sides to this, and many ways to address it. There’s the political aspect. We need stricter laws against these crimes. Maybe you could get involved by contacting law-makers (or becoming a law-maker) and advocating for this issue. Lawyers need to vigorously prosecute these cases. Police officers need to know how to deal with these cases, so that a girl doesn’t go to jail because she’s assumed to be a voluntary prostitute, when in reality she’s a sex slave. Business professionals can address the issues of poverty that make many susceptible to being exploited. Doctors and nurses can help to care for victims of human trafficking.
These victims experience post-traumatic stress disorder, STDs, drug dependency due to forced drugging, and all kinds of psychological disorders. From the social services standpoint, help is needed to get victims back on their feet, and help is needed in preventive education in schools and neighborhoods. There need to be women who can mentor women and girls who have escaped slavery. The Gospel is the only path to true healing.
5. Men, take a stand.
Slavery today mainly harms women and girls. And it’s mainly men who are the abusers. I would submit to you that it shouldn’t be mainly women who are passionate about stopping this industry. There need to be Christian men who speak out against abuse, exploitation, pornography and prostitution. We need more men to stand with women for the well-being of women and children around the world.
Are there any like William Wilberforce among us? Are there any who would commit their life’s work to abolishing an evil for which too many of us turn a blind eye?
This article originally appeared on desiringgod.org.
Ben Reaoch is the pastor of Three Rivers Grace Church in downtown Pittsburgh, PA, and is the author of Women, Slaves, and the Gender Debate (P&R, 2012).