Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Human Trafficking

A little girl is chained to a bed in a cold, damp, concrete room. All she's wearing is a tattered silver negligee. She hears footsteps coming down the stairs and she tries to hide in the corner. The door to the room opens and she knows what comes next. This is the twelfth time that she's been forced to have sex today, and it won't be the last.

Sadly, this is the reality of so many children throughout the world.

It is human trafficking.

For those of you who don't know what human trafficking is, I will share a little bit about what it is, and after that, I will tell you a little bit about how it captured my heart.

According to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, human trafficking is defined as "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs."

Many people assume that trafficking only occurs in third world countries, but that is not true. Many people are trafficked into North America annually. Not only are people trafficked into the country, but they are also trafficked within the country.

In the US, it is estimated that approximately 200,000 children are at risk of being trafficked for sexual purposes each year.

A report from Canada's Criminal Intelligence Service estimates that domestic traffickers earn an average of $280,000 annually from each victim that they possess. The sex trade is proving to be more profitable than the drug trade with much less risk attached. Human trafficking wasn't even considered a crime in Canada until 2005.

I don't know about you, but I consider this issue to be an absolute atrocity. The victims of this horrific crime against humanity are people just like you and me. The only difference is that they are modern day slaves, and we are free.

It breaks my heart to hear the overwhelming statistics regarding sex trafficking specifically. The abuse that these people endure is unimaginable. Some of the stories I have heard make me want to vomit.

And so I ask myself, "What can I do about this? How can I make a difference?"

I believe the answer to this question is best described in an essay I wrote for a scholarship. So I'm going to include it in this post.

(Although it talks about Williamson Christian College, it really is about how I feel like God is going to use me to impact lives.)

"“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”
Isaiah 61:1-4

When I was a child, I dreamed a dream. Simply put, my dream was to make an impact on this world. For years, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response was always, “I want to be a pediatrician.” To me, that seemed like
the most realistic way to change the world.

One life at a time.

As the years passed though, the dream in my heart grew more and more dim. Eventually, it seemed that the dream had disappeared. No longer did I wake up in the morning looking for the way that I could impact someone’s life. Instead, I went to bed each night begging God to let me die. I believed the lies of the enemy that I would never amount to anything.

My behaviour reflected the hopelessness that had taken root inside of me. I was struggling with a severe eating disorder, self harm, and major depression. I attempted suicide more times than I care to count. I dropped out of high school, and was not expected to live to see my eighteenth birthday. Thankfully, God had other plans.

Last year, I applied to a program called Mercy Ministries as a last-ditch attempt at life. While I was there, the Lord reawakened the dream that I once had. I learned that that dream was actually placed in my heart by Him, and that He would help me to achieve it. I learned that I had not disqualified myself from a life of impacting others. Since then, God has lead me down a path of discovering my true identity in Christ. As I seek Him, I find myself more and more.

I met a girl while I was at Mercy who quickly became one of my closest friends. She is a victim of domestic sex trafficking. I had heard of human trafficking before, although I knew next to nothing about it. I thought it was some faraway issue that didn’t affect me here in North America at all. When I met this girl though, everything changed. God moved in my heart and I found myself interceding for the people who are affected by this atrocity here in North America on a nightly basis. I spent countless hours on my floor sobbing because words could not describe the ache in my heart for these young women. While I was at Mercy, there was nothing I could do other than pray – and that is just what I did.

Since graduating from Mercy in September, I have not stopped talking about this issue. God has taught me that I have a voice, and that my voice matters! My words can change lives! With that in mind, I speak. I speak out against domestic sex trafficking and human trafficking as a whole. I refuse to be silent about an issue that people seem to brush under the rug. I realize that it is not a pretty thing to talk about, but if everyone stays silent, nothing will be done to abolish this horrific act against humanity.

However, my dream does not end with my voice. It carries on into the lives of the thousands of people affected by this issue each year. This is where Williamson Christian College comes in. In order to move forward in the call of God on my life, I need to be better equipped. My ultimate goal is to open a residential facility for young women who have been rescued out of the grip of their traffickers to come and have their lives transformed from the inside out. I believe that these girls deserve the best, and I want them to have the best God has to offer.

I believe that by receiving my education from Williamson Christian College, God will equip me with many of the resources that I need in order to provide for these girls. I plan to get my degree in non-profit management which will teach me the in’s and out’s of facilitating a program that will best allow God to move in these young lives. The electives that are offered at Williamson will also assist me in my journey by helping me to get a well-rounded education and educate me as to how to address the mental and emotional aspects of their care.

After I graduate from Williamson Christian College, my plan is to go on to graduate school to obtain my Masters degree in counseling or something of that nature, but who knows where God will take me by the time these next four years have passed.

In reference to the scripture that I shared at the beginning of this essay, I truly believe that God has called me to preach the good news of freedom and redemption to those who have been in very real, tangible bondage. I believe that as I embark on this path of education that I will see lives transformed by the Holy Spirit wherever I go. I believe that the work that God has done in my life will be a catalyst in the lives of others.

I am honoured that God has chosen me to be the vessel that He will use to transform many lives – and I am confident that Williamson Christian College is the place that will equip me to accomplish my childhood dream.

To change the world – one life at a time."

All in all, I am believing for the complete abolition of human trafficking, both domestically and internationally. I am believing that everyone who is held captive will be released. I am believing for transformed lives all around.

I'm sure this is not the last time you will hear about trafficking from me, considering it is my hearts' cry to see it come to an end. If you have any questions or want more info on the topic, let me know and I will do what I can to answer you.

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