Written by: John Wood in Freedom (Human Trafficking) on July 17, 2012
"You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know." –William Wilberforce
When I first found out that 27 million people (mostly minors) on the planet live in some form of slavery (more people held in slavery than at any other time in human history), I didn’t want to believe it! I knew at some point in my life that I’d do something about it, but that desire lay dormant until I heard last year that slavery wasn’t just occurring internationally, but it was occurring in my own country. Not only that, it was occurring in the State of Florida—the place where I live. I was in shock. This simply could not be true. I didn’t want it to be true! Yet, unfortunately, I had to face this harsh reality for myself personally. It is true. Slavery even exists where I live.
The details of this reality are staggering. Seventy percent of modern-day slaves are women. Fifty percent are children. What is worse is that it is happening in our own backyards. Florida is ranked third in human trafficking cases in the United States, behind Oregon and California. It is estimated that at any given moment there are between 30,000 to 40,000 pre-teen and teenage runaways in Florida. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, within 48 hours of a child running away from home, they will be propositioned into the commercial sex trade. Children are being recruited to be sexually exploited from all kinds of places, including the streets, schools and our local malls.
The opening quote by William Wilberforce haunts me, because I can truly never say again that I did not know. I have freedom; I am not being completely dominated and controlled by another to do what they want against my will. You and I, who live in freedom, are responsible to assist those who do not. My favorite verses of scripture are found in Isaiah 42:6-7 (NIV): "I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness."
Can you even imagine being a slave? What if it was your very own daughter? Wouldn’t you want someone to rescue her? We have that opportunity today to be a catalyst to help set the captives free.
Northland staff and volunteers are working on a "Freedom" strategy to specifically address and respond to the issue of human trafficking. Connecting together for education and service, we can help put an end to modern-day slavery and human trafficking.
Join the fight! Come to Northland at Longwood on Thursday, August 2, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., in room 4213, for the Immigration and Human Trafficking Learning Group. We'll discuss how we can respond to this issue together. I hope you'll continue to follow this blog for updates, informational videos highlighting the problems, stories and practical steps that you can take to make a difference right where you are. The video above illustrates the alarming reality of slavery and what one organization is doing to remove this evil.
What are your thoughts? Can you relate to how I felt when I first learned about this epidemic?