I've been traveling quite a bit this semester. Denver, Phoenix, Orlando, Dallas, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Jacksonville, they've all been on the list of cities I've visited since the end of our teenage camping season at KIVU.
We're putting the finishing touches on a gap year that has been in the works for three years now, and one of the most horrific things I've heard over the last few months from urban leaders, right here in the U.S., is the unexpected rise of the underground human trafficking going on during the recession.
Interestingly enough, this morning's CNN story detailed just how severe this issue is all over the world. (just click on CNN to have the story open in another browser window.)
When I talk about it, people ask, "So what exactly is human trafficking? And how does it work?"
Well, it's simple.
There's a ring leader.
He/She promise the victims a good job in a high paying part of the world.
When the employees finally get to where they're going, the ring leader takes away all they're travel papers.
They usually take them to a place where they don't know the language or the culture, so there's a bit of culture shock and an inability to just run.
They're often abused.
They're told they have to work off their travel fees, and earn their passports and travel documents back (which is made nearly impossible on purpose.)
They end up being prostitutes, or slave labor for corporations keen enough to keep them off the official labor books.
And so you wind up with someone that is trapped.
Often times the ring leaders will threaten to hurt their families back home.
Force them into some sort of physical disadvantage, and in the end
There are people far away from home
Who've been lied to
And all the while the ring leader acts like a pimp, collecting the lion's share of the money coming into the industry.
If you live in a major metropolitan area, it's most likely happening, right in your back yard. (especially if it's easy to travel in and out of your town.)
I guess I'm writing about this, because it just makes my heart sad.
It's sad, that in 2009, this kind of stuff is still going on.
Humans treating each other like property, rather than like humans
People continuing to run illegal activity, and use other people to do the dirty work
It's sad there are women and children who will never see their families again
They're lost in a sea of mis understanding
Like the movie says….
What do we do?
For one thing, I believe it's within our faith that we want all men and women to live in freedom.
Jesus came to "set the captives free" and that wasn't just some euphoric claim that is supposed to happen when the end of the world comes.
I believe Jesus came that all men would be free here in the kingdom on earth, AND in the kingdom to come.
Talk with your local urban ministry.
May we be a people who reach out to those trapped in modern slavery, and give them the opportunity to understand the freedom God came to give.
My heart is sad.