Archive for the ‘Human Trafficking’ Category

Apr
04
2014

Is Orthodoxy Causing Young Evangelicals to Flee the Faith?

Today I’ve got a post up at the CNN Belief Blog, debunking the narrative that holding fast to the truth is causing evangelicals to leave the Church:

Yes, it is true that Christians should be known more for what they are for than what they are against.

But if you move past the rhetoric, you’ll find that it is often not aggrieved ex-evangelicals who are founding and leading charitable organizations, but the stubbornly orthodox. Faithful Christians are not the only ones in the trenches, relieving human need – but they make up a large percentage.All over the world, you will find faithful followers of Christ adopting orphaned children, rescuing girls from trafficking, feeding the poor, digging wells and volunteering in disaster relief.

My own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, operates one of the world’s largest relief operations while holding fast to its theological commitments. And some of the world’s most effective ministries to the poor and marginalized were started by and continue to operate according to evangelical Christian beliefs. They live in the tension of the New Testament, which calls believers to both faithfulness and charity.In fact, the most effective agents of hope in this world likely don’t have Twitter accounts, have never blogged and might never have even uttered the words, “social justice.”

And yet silently, quietly, patiently they serve the least of these, not because they first jettisoned their quaint notions of orthodoxy, but because they held them tighter.

Read the whole thing here:

Jan
11
2012

International Trafficking 101

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. As part of an effort to bring awareness to this important issue, I’m featuring a series of posts on the subject. Earlier today, I posted an informative article by my friend, Kathi Macias. I also asked Charles Powell to write a guest post for me. Charles is the coauthor (with Dillon Burroughs) of a book, Not in My Town, which exposes the scourge of human trafficking in our own American towns. 

Sometimes when I wrote about human trafficking, I’m told to avoid using too many “figures and facts.” While I have used “figures” in my writing as a necessity, I’m not a guy who likes to lean too heavily on statistics unless I know the scientific methods used to obtain them. As for “facts,” in my experience people tend to trust them at face value and then show very little indignation when they are proven wrong. What I want to share in this column is the truth . . . the truth is unchanging and that is what brings me to my topic: the economy of human trafficking.

Trafficking is about money. At the end of the day, the traffickers themselves care precious little about what they are trafficking. If little brown furry bunnies were worth billions of dollars when smuggled across international borders into the US, then that is what they would sell. Bunnies would be the commodity of choice. As it is, the most profitable products are drugs, guns, and people. From my research, the people who are trafficking women into the United States for sexual exploitation are mainly large criminal organizations, usually with a shared ethnic background, such as Russian, Albanian, Chinese or Korean.

Crime can make strange bedfellows. Recently Hizballah (Hezbollah), classified by the US government as a terrorist group out of Lebanon, has been linked to trafficking in guns, drugs, and presumably people (they usually go together) under contract so to speak for Mexican drug cartels near the US border. Their aim is not political gain—it’s money, pure and simple.

The answer to the problem of international criminal organizations trafficking people into the United States is not more law enforcement, not more prisons, nor more politician’s promises. Traffickers don’t fear law enforcement and prison—these are factored into the operation’s overhead. But, they do fear common everyday people like you saying “No more!” to trafficking in their own communities. They fear people leaving the comfort of their homes. The criminals are absolutely terrified of church and civic and grassroots political groups who decide that enough is enough and take action in the streets. More laws and moral statements do not bring social change . . . people do. That was proved by the American civil rights movement.

Additional Resources:


Jan
11
2012

Let My People Go – Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today, January 11th, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. To help raise awareness of the scourge of human trafficking around the world, I asked my good friend, Kathi Macias to write a guest post. Kathi is a prolific, award-winning author, but the book she wrote that most touched me was her novel, Deliver Me From Evil that put a face to human trafficking. You can read my review. But first, read Kathi’s informative post about this all important issue: 

The term “human trafficking” or “trafficking in persons” (TIP) often draws raised eyebrows and skeptical expressions—until statistics are laid out to show that approximately 27 million people are enslaved today, whether for the purposes of slave labor, prostitution, or involuntary organ “donations.”

The Salvation Army has made the rescue of those enslaved around the world their number-one goal at this time, holding seminars and conferences to educate people and to garner support from various individuals and organizations.

The United Nations describes TIP in this way:

“The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring 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 labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

In a nutshell, human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and it is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. It is currently tied with the illegal arms industry for the second largest criminal industry in existence, with the drug industry being the only one to edge it out.

Oh, I know. Most people naively believe that human trafficking happens only in faraway countries—Thailand or Cambodia, perhaps. True, it does occur there at a tragic rate. But it also takes place right here in the United States daily, to such an extent that some states are instituting task forces to try and stop it. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot promises that their new task force “will take an aggressive stand against human traffickers, who have turned Texas into a hub for international and domestic forced labor and prostitution rings.”[1]

Another myth about human trafficking is that it only involves adults. Millions of children around the world are crying out in pain and terror over the heartbreaking error of that statement. According to Wikepedia, trafficking in children may come about as an “exploitation of the parents’ extreme poverty. Parents may sell children to traffickers in order to pay off debts or gain income, or they may be deceived concerning the prospects of training and a better life for their children. They may sell their children for labor, sex trafficking, or illegal adoptions.”

Can there be anything that grieves the Father’s heart more than the forced enslaving of people made in His own image—by others bearing that same divine imprint? I believe each time anyone becomes aware of such evil and cries out against it, that cry is spurred by the Father’s own pain. If ever the Church needed to be involved in helping to right a human wrong, it’s now. Human trafficking must stop! And each of us who names the Name of Christ must ask the Father what He wants us to do to help make that happen.

In my case, that includes writing about it—every chance I get, including blogs, letters, articles, and a new fiction-based-on-real-life series that I’m just now starting. Will you pray for me as I research and write it? And will you also pray and ask God what you can do to answer His heart cry of “Let My people go”? Millions of enslaved human beings around the world are depending on you to respond.


[1] www.humantrafficking.org, “News and Updates,” April 5, 2010.

 

Additional Resources:

Dec
09
2011

Friday Five: Charles Powell

Earlier this week I posted a review of Kathi Macias’ explosive new novel that puts a human face on human trafficking here in America. It’s a book I encouraged every believer to read.

Today, I continue the discussion about human trafficking with an interview of Charles Powell, coauthor with Dillon Burroughs of Not in My Town (also published by New Hope).

Charles is a justice activist, film producer, conference speaker, and founder of Mercy Movement, a grassroots movement to abolish human trafficking and slavery. Over the past three decades Charles has been trained in counterterrorism and police investigation, worked as a bodyguard for royalty, and lived undercover during the war on drugs. He now uses his unique background to investigate and stop modern slavery in the US and beyond. Powell lives in Northeast Georgia.

Not in My Town not only exposes the scourge of human trafficking in our midst, it also gives practical ways to fight it. Charles was kind enough to stop by for today’s Friday Five:

  Read More

Dec
07
2011

A Novel Every Christian Should Read

I realize that there are many Christians who are ambivalent or even opposed to Christian fiction. I’ve never shared that belief, because I think fiction has a way of bringing important issues to light in a way that may be impossible for straightforward treatises. But even if you are someone who eschews novels, I’d urge you to take a look at Deliver Me From Evil a powerful and disturbing new novel written Kathi Macias, an accomplished author who also happens to be a great friend.

I’ve known Kathi for a few years and she has become a great friend. We also happen to be fellow New Hope authors. A few years ago, Andrea Mullins, publisher at New Hope, made a decision to launch into fiction for the first time in the history of the publishing house. But her desire was to do fiction in a way that was different, specifically fiction that fit with the ethos of New Hope which is to be gospel centered and mission driven. If you’ve met Andrea and have been with her for more than five minutes, you’ll feel her passion for missions.

Kathi Macias has led New Hope’s foray into what they call “missional fiction” by writing novels that tackle tough, thorny, often controversial issues of justice. Deliver Me From Evil is the first in her second series of books entitled The Freedom Series. This book is important and powerful because it puts a human face on the scourge of human trafficking.

Before I read Deliver Me From Evil I was aware of the human trafficking problem, but was not engaged in it. I knew it happened in places like Thailand and Africa and the Middle East, but I did not invest myself emotionally in the full scope of the problem. I had heard folks say that there is more slavery in the 21st Century than at any time in history. But I have been engaged in other issues more deeply. I’m actively involved in the prolife issue here in our community, supporting a local pregnancy center and speaking out in columns and blogs and speeches on the issue. I’ve also been recently engaged on the issue of immigration, working toward a biblically based, gospel and kingdom-centered approach to this issue.

But reading Deliver Me From Evil gave me a disturbing, up-close look at the horrific problem of human trafficking. Kathi Macias weaves a story of a young girl who was kidnapped from her San Diego area home and forced into sexual slavery; a girl in the Golden Triangle in Thailand. In this novel, Kathi shares the awful exploitation of young girls in excruciating, but appropriate detail. These are girls whose innocence and freedom and self-worth are bought and sold to the highest bidder by the most evil of men.

Deliver Me From Evil is written in a honest, raw, disturbing way. It’s disturbing because what happens in this novel isn’t made up. It happens every day, not simply in a far off place across the ocean but in our own seemingly safe neighborhoods. It happens in our own cities and towns. My own daughter is approaching seven years old. When I read about the girls in Deliver Me From Evil, my jaw becomes clenched with anger because the girls being trafficked are my own daughter’s age.

I might have never read a nonfiction book on human trafficking, but reading this well-written novel that reveals real-world crimes has motivated me to do what I can to be a part of the solution. In fact, this year our family is giving a donation to International Justice Mission, who fights human trafficking.

I think this book may do for the issue of human trafficking what Randy Alcorn’s book, Safely Home did for the cause of persecuted believers in China. Frankly, this an issue in which the Church has been way ahead of the politicians and the media. I pray that those of us who work to fight abortion and HIV/AIDS virus add human trafficking to their portfolio of causes. IJM quotes National Geographic which estimates that there are 27 million people living in slavery today. The U.S. State Department estimates that there are 600,000-800,000 children, women, and men trafficked across international borders every year—up to 50% of them are minors.

I plan on writing about this issue more. But I think reading Deliver Me From Evil is an important first step.

Helpful Resources:

Interview with the author, Kathi Macias on her motivation on writing Deliver Me From Evil and what the sequel will look like.

A helpful list of ministries and information on combatting human trafficking

An article by Kathi Macias on the face of human trafficking

My friend Dillon Burroughs has written a book entitled, Not in My Town, also published by New Hope. He and his coauthor Charles Powell have founded an advocacy group, Mercy Movement.