I’ve hung some photos of the people and places the Lord has taken me to in the past 10 years post-high school. They’re in the Cafe I’m currently working at in South-east Kansas.
Above a seating area on the eastern most part of the cafe I have a picture of two toddlers holding a python in Siem-Reap, Cambodia.
Over the leather couch in front of the register I’ve dangled a few pictures of intentionally blinded children pan-handling in Chiang-Mai, Thailand.
I have some pictures of the untouchables in Northern India.
My favorite is of a Muslim man bathing outside of his barely standing recycled box and plywood homes.
That picture is hung by the free wi-fi sign.
Because of the photos people have begun to ask questions regarding the photographs’ origin.
“Why would anyone want to have a picture of a baby holding a python?” a few people have asked.
I typically respond, “So we don’t forget they’re there…”
“Oh..” is about as far as most people want that conversation to go.”
Probably because of the small conversations the photos have started, I was approached by a journalist the other day to interview about my involvement and knowledge on the subject of human trafficking.
Disclaimer…Compared to most, I have limited experience. This is my experience though.
Many people say they have “worked in anti-trafficking”. Often all they mean is, “I’m angry at the concept of men paying for sex…so I passed a flyer out and bought this t-shirt…I verbally hate the idea of it..”
I’m not trying to diminish the value of advocacy, but glossing over such subjects without ever touching the roots of why they happen, is as affective as calling a social group a “church” and hoping everyone gets healthy…
…words, in this case, mean very little.
…change of heart and root [of the issue] means everything.
I set a meet up time with said journalist.
It was only about 10 minutes into our little interview before my human was fully in the fight again…fully screaming inside again…my head full of names and images, sounds and facts we don’t enjoy acknowledging.
How could anyone not respond? How can we ignore it? Aren’t we set-apart to administer justice and healing to the nations?
My mind was just rolling..
27 Million is still a low-ball estimate. The majority aren’t sex-trafficked, it’s labour and indentured slavery that’s got most. The majority are women and children (irony, what with our definition of “true religion”). In Mumbai, India it only takes about 12 hours for a homeless child to be approached and moved into some form of trafficking. There’s a trail from Mumbai, to the depths of Nepal in which the further you go into Nepal, the fewer women exist…until eventually even the grandmas are gone because the locals have nothing left.
Supply and Demand.
How do we stop it?
Wilberforce spent 40+ years fighting that system…at least the legality of it: he absolutely killed it. Good for him. Good for the Clapham group!
How is it still rampant? More slaves today than William had to deal with…
How do we stop it?
Advocacy? Rescue? Prevention? Recovery?
So, while all that passion came very quickly, it wasn’t very long before it just faded right back into frustration and aggravation.
For a season I found myself talking to law-enforcement officers, missionaries and other strategists. Those who’d been interacting in this scene had already come to this conclusion of,
“if you rescue one slave, there will be 100 more to replace him/her. Even if you catch a pimp or a John, they don’t get punished all that bad, and there will always be someone ready to enslave or use someone weaker or more desperate..”
So that mentality really bugged me. Obviously we’re not meant to have a defeatist perspective on life…otherwise we’d never even eat an apple for fear it may turn into a rotting core..
But there was some validity to what they were saying.
It’s not just by their words.
It only takes seeing a few red lights, meeting a few johns, and maybe chasing a pimp through a casino until LVMPD came and carted him away…before your heart decides the war on slavery is bigger than you want to try and tackle.
After all, doesn’t it seem like humans will just repeat the sin their families have committed throughout all of time? It’s sort of like the starfish analogy…but with boys and girls, and their bodies are strewn across history.
So what’s so impossible to quell?
Well. Demand. Demand for cheaper labour to benefit someone else, will always be there. Someone will always value their comfort more than someone else’s freedom. No matter if it’s the comfort of sex instantly for an exchange of money or force…or if the comfort is cheap clothes at H&M because you’re on a college budget.
There will always be someone hurting or vulnerable enough to sell, be sold, or compromise the value of human worth in order to survive.
In Nepal it’s sometimes debt,
“Take my child for I cannot pay you…it’s better for my child to be sold and us go free than for the whole family to be punished for our household debt…besides, this baby is a girl, she’s worthless anyway!”
In India it’s skin color,
“This caste simply is worthless, Vishnu wills it”
Yes. The same religion that inspires Yoga (I do #mobilityWOD), is the same religion and culture which has implanted one of the most grotesque caste systems in the history of human kind. In the horn of Africa it’s,
“Her husband is dead, her value is gone…use her for man’s (the more beloved child of Allah) pleasure and service” #thankYouIslam
So, with culture across the planet as it is, we’ll always be battling supply and demand. The way I began to see it while leaving one of the largest red light districts in Mumbai, was that if I were to even begin to consider the liberation of just one of the 40,000 women and children in that single square block down-town, I would need to change the culture of the planet…or the region…or the city…or the neighborhood, or the slave.
How do I change the culture of the slave? By changing their surroundings? Naming them a Christian?
How do I change the culture of the pimp, the pervert, the John/Jane enslaving and taking advantage?
More severe punishment? Take away their ability to travel?
There will always be supply or demand unless you kill the root.
It’s a heart issue. And the hearts of man don’t change without a healer.
I told my friend Aleese one day while sitting outside a massive gathering of missionaries in Alabama.
“I can’t fight human trafficking anymore. If I am going to see the end of the 27 million, I’m going to have to plant churches…plant cultures of honor, purity, love…freedom of heart.”
Basically, I need to become a healer. And for that? I need a Healer. I needed healing.
How long do we need to discuss prayer before we pray?
How many will perish before we speak out and walk in healing ministry?
It just. AGH!
…Is so defeating sometimes…knowing we have the key, but we just won’t open the door.
Back at the Cafe in Kansas:
The reporter asked me how playing with children and sharing stories in Cambodia was fighting trafficking.
That got my mind going. This! This I could talk about.
How does sharing Jesus with a Muslim man in India fight human slavery?
Then I thought about my kids in Thailand.
They were just children. Slaves. They worked all night, every night. They weren’t paid and didn’t get to go to school. They didn’t know who they were. They knew they were slaves…yes. But they didn’t realize their worth.
You see outside of Abba’s kingdom, you’re worth what you work for. Jesus teaches us that every human life has worth. Because He intimately designed them…every child is made in His image, and they are for protecting and upbringing…not for personal gain and they’re not simply an aggravation of economic status.
I could rescue 1000 children from slavery in Thailand…but if they never realize they were worth more than a few BAHT (money) and someone else’s luxury (their slave owner), wouldn’t they just become slaves or slave owners soon enough themselves?
Human worth. It’s beginning and end is from and through Christ.
What about the demand? How does Jesus affect the men and women in the world that pay for slaves/sex/cheap clothing?
Healer. Jesus is healer. Man need’s to meet healer.
The holes in man’s heart…are only filled by their creator, and His process of being brought back into the family.
Wondering how we got to using children for slaves or objects of sexual gratification?
We know that pornography use results in damaged social interaction ranging from social skills to higher percentage of coercion and perpetrating assault (rape, work related sexual abuse, sexual assault).
After an analysis of 400 million web searches from July 2009 to July 2010, researchers concluded:The most popular category of sexual searches was “youth.”
As men, we stop running to physical pleasure to feed our identity when we’re called by our father’s name for us. If the demand for out of control physical pleasure dies, then our willingness to compromise someone else’s freedom dies with that lie too.
Give men identity. Protect the sanctity of other’s well-being by allowing and empowering men to become who they originally were: beings who fed true identity and worth..protectors.
As women, we stop filling holes with solicitation and approval of our worth and body from the world, when we hear our father call us by our name, “beloved…made in Jesus’ image”. We must see the value of women past their physique…and they must see who they are apart from a commodity.
I’m sure anyone else could extrapolate those revelations better than I. These are just the first two things that come rushing to mind when we talk roots of human injustice.
However, while I was talking with the reporter in the cafe this Friday, my heart suddenly realized that I was no longer in the fight.
I’ve “left” YWAM (a missionary tribe). It’s a movement, but I’ve left the NGO status.
I’m not on staff with any churches.
I serve coffee and pray for sick people.
Have I left the campaign to end human trafficking?
You see somewhere in 2010 I was beginning to drown. I was drinking too much of the burden that is the nations… I was beginning to see strategies and numbers as the answer to stopping the supply and demand.
How then Lord?! How can we end this?”
I have asked the Lord to make me the stable foundation that is the end of human-trafficking, multiple times. The changing of a culture through a lifestyle walked out.
When I first started asking the Lord to change me for this:
He began to show me the roots in my heart that, if left untouched by the Healer, could eventually allow me to become a trafficker myself.
He answered with a resounding yes. I didn’t realize He was going to target my heart as the biggest issue in my venture to save the world:
I said, “Let the process begin”
He began to open up my person and expose my wounds.
I can describe them as this:
From your youth you had a family sized hole in your chest. Because of that hole, you too, Samuel, have the roots of sex-trafficking in your spirit. You sometimes believe the only way to satisfy that craving for love, is through women…or instantaneous comfort.
He showed me how my pornography addiction fed the lie that women and sex could satiate my loneliness.
Sex is a good and great thing.
Nakedness and intimacy was God’s idea.
However, without the process of trust, permission and commitment…it’s stealing from one another. It even robs us of being able to enjoy the fulness that eventually leads to sex and physical oneness.
In many ways, all of us steal from one another. Sometimes in our mind, sometimes in our actions.
See how it’s step 1? Step 1 to taking from someone…for selfish reasons. Some of us it’s by remaining silent when someone’s identity isn’t established (when you know their true name), and some of us we’re the ones that exploit those who can’t find their own worth…
As a Christian, we’re all called to give names to those who wander namelessly. It’s from our identity found that we give identity to the lost, broken and fatherless.
As sons of God, we’re called to trust Abba with our needs and wants.
Skip either of those processes, we immediately begin stealing…from ourselves or another.
This culture is deep within the church’s walls. The culture of, I’m so afraid for me…I’ll skip the process, in order to fulfill my need sooner.
Let’s take this a step past porn, and arrive at sex before marriage. That’s skipping a process because we’re afraid. At least that’s what we see creates soul ties and spiritual chains, if not living chains in the form of an “unwanted baby”. I’d say most of us in the church get away with just the chains of, “I’m so caught up chemically, I can’t love you OR ME well.
We all see a church that condemns human trafficking, but can’t get past it’s lust issue. We feed the same spirit but with a different packaging.
That same process of selfish thought, is the exact equation that leads us to the issue of involuntary servitude…
I could show you how while even in ministry, I allowed secrets and dark things to happen in my tribe, because I was afraid of losing my livelihood or friendships. That is, I allowed some form or root of selfishness to permit wrong. I didn’t perpetrate necessarily..but I was silent.
Just as guilty.
When we’re nervous for our own well-being…or even more concerned with our own well being, we eventually allow ourselves to skip the process in order to come to the goal we want.
In our previous example it was sexual pleasure/comfort/release/intimacy that we stole with.
In a different example, we see the process of “loving thy neighbor…taking care of the widow and the orphan, doing justice, loving mercy”, convoluted by our desire to “love/protect/gain for ourselves”.
When God’s process is hi-jacked by fear, we take what we think we need/want despite the consequences to others.
Abba said and almost daily says,
“Isn’t that a root in your heart son? Are you so afraid of discomfort that you will allow compromise in your life because you’re afraid you might be cold or hungry for a season?”
I’m so afraid of risk, that I skip Abba’s process in order to protect my comfort.
Go ahead and fill in the examples for yourself on this one. In King David’s life, it was killing off a man in order to protect his dignity, because he was afraid he would have to explain his adultery…
It’s fear, selfishness, impatience that corrupts trust, peace and perspective.
In the 1800’s England’s desire to have cheap labour and pampering skewed their vision for humanities worth.
I’m currently not in “official” ministry. What does that even mean?
I don’t wear t-shirts or re-gram posts about anti-trafficking.
I do celebrate and champion those running after that fight.
But, for me, I stopped working in anti-trafficking before I left ministry officially.
I don’t think I’ll ever be a perfect example.
The hearts of men struggle easily…
…but I want to see the demand stop.
…I believe the supply can be protected and brought into their identity.
I truly believe:
There is a culture being bred, that knows process…process through Christ’s plumb line. Process through God’s provision, and our ability to trust him, despite waves and threats of danger or discomfort.
What do I think the most effective method for healing a generation of sex-addicted men is?
Jesus blood can cleanse and comfort.
What do I think the most effective method is for protecting the vulnerable?
The Kingdom of Heaven…on earth. His voice can call us by our name again.
So how do we quicken this process?
Well we can’t keep hating slavery but allowing gluttony and out of control consumerism.
This is a heart issue.
We can’t condemn child-pornography, but still lust after our neighbors spouse.
This is a heart issue that feeds a culture.
We cannot affirm seeing someone in spiritual bondage, but just talking about how “The Lord is our liberator”.
We must literally introduce humanity to Jesus, the man, not the just bible…and not the idea of a distant historical God.
We need Jesus. Emmanuel. Jesus, the living Healer.
Jesus. Jesus is the answer.