Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Gen. 1:26,27 (ESV)
If you skimmed this passage and missed its point, here it is: we are created in God’s image. Think about that. We matter. Last week I shared about my visit with “Greg,” a sex trafficking expert with “Deliver Fund,” who described what happens to girls taken into bondage. It made my skin crawl. He said that there is NO community unaffected by this crime. Surely he wasn’t serious. Nevada? Fort Scott? Where everyone knows who’s dating whom, what kind of surgery they’ve had and if they go to church or not? That’s just nuts.
Apparently not, because, well…let’s face it—we might know the latest gossip, but we pay little attention to what goes on right around us. Remember Ariel Castro, the man who for ten years imprisoned three women in his boarded-up, Cleveland, Ohio, home? Not one neighbor took the time to put the clues together that something was amiss…and there were plenty.
I asked Greg what people like me can do to help. Most importantly, he said, we need to pray for eyes to see. Greg knows that not everyone can be involved to the extent he is, but there are too many who just want to “scratch-their-action-guy-itch.” They volunteer to help but aren’t
committed. Fewer still want to take the time to be on the lookout for warning signs. Prime culprits are seedy motels with “a lookout” standing outside and convenience stores where men accompany young girls who make little eye contact and refuse to engage in conversation.
Greg wasn’t talking about me. Ask my husband. I live to catch a criminal. Once, after reading of the plane passenger who tried to light his shoe on fire, I alerted airport authorities to a man who had a cord hanging from the hem of his pants. It turned out to be part of his phone. (Or so I was told…um-hum.) Every time I see an adult carrying a screaming child, I immediately think kidnapping. I’m always on the lookout to save someone. It drives Dave crazy.
So, let’s say you aren’t as brave/foolish as I. There’s another way you can help. Yesterday I received an email from a relative. In lieu of a birthday gift, she asked for donations to Operation Underground Railroad, a foundation that rescues and rehabilitates kidnapped children. It is one of many, and all of them need financial support.
David Batstone, the founder of The Not For Sale Campaign, got involved when he found out that the staff at one of his favorite Indian restaurants in San Francisco were almost all slaves. This was discovered when one of the workers went home to find her roommate very ill. Not knowing what to do, she called her landlord, the owner of the restaurant. He arrived, then refused to call for help, and instead rolled the sick, unconscious girl in a carpet and loaded her into his van. Then he tried to force the first girl into the van. A brave woman heard the girl’s screams and called the police. It turned out that almost all the staff in the man’s several restaurants had been illegally trafficked from India, owed a “debt” to their “employer” for their transportation to America, and were paid minimal wages, which did not cover exorbitant rents that the owner charged for the slum-like apartments in which they lived.
The woman who called the police paid attention. As did David.
We need to do likewise. I’m not saying we turn into peeping toms who roam our neighborhoods with binoculars (although that would be a deterrent). Sex trafficking involves the dehumanization of life. It’s a slap in God’s face, the same God who made us in His image. To really make a difference we must open our eyes…and our hearts…and maybe even our wallets.