To Free a Slave

I recently went to see the movie 12 Years a Slave.

I wanted to see it and yet I didn’t want to see it.

I knew it was an important movie to see and yet I knew it would be very difficult to watch.

I was right. It was very painful to watch the story of a free black man who was living in New York in the 1840s get kidnapped and sold as a slave. For 12 years he endured unspeakably hard work, horrendous living conditions, and near death beatings. In the end he was freed, but I’m sure he was never the same person again.

It’s hard to believe that even though more than a century has passed there are still slaves in the world.

There are still people forced to work where they don’t want to. There are still people living in terrible living conditions. There are still people being abused.

Matt Parker, founder of The Exodus Road writes:

Rescue from the sex trade sounds glamorous. On the outside looking in, rescue looks a lot like Jason Bourne in a fist fight or Liam Neeson breaking down doors to find his daughter in Taken. It sounds like the stuff of Hollywood.

But real rescue can’t be depicted in a two-hour movie on the big screen. My experience as a former undercover investigator and now the leader of The Exodus Road, a coalition of more than 20 investigative organizations responsible for nearly 200 victim rescues in the past year, has given me a more realistic point of view.

The rescue of a sex slave actually requires a huge investment of time, resources, strategy and grit.

If you want to read the rest of his story about rescuing a slave named Sarah go to the Relevant site.

And remember to pray for those working on the front lines of freeing modern-day slaves. I can’t imagine what it does to your soul to work in an environment where people are routinely abused and hurt. Pray that God will bless their efforts and give them joy and peace even in those awful circumstances.

In the comments below write a short prayer for the brave people who are working to free modern-day slaves.

Rescue from the sex trade sounds glamorous. On the outside looking in, rescue looks a lot like Jason Bourne in a fist fight or Liam Neeson breaking down doors to find his daughter in Taken. It sounds like the stuff of Hollywood.

But real rescue can’t be depicted in a two-hour movie on the big screen. My experience as a former undercover investigator and now the leader of The Exodus Road, a coalition of more than 20 investigative organizations responsible for nearly 200 victim rescues in the past year, has given me a more realistic point of view.

The rescue of a sex slave actually requires a huge investment of time, resources, strategy and grit.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/reject-apathy/what-it-takes-free-sex-slave#Q9MLUaxqWkKQLS3V.99

 

Rescue from the sex trade sounds glamorous. On the outside looking in, rescue looks a lot like Jason Bourne in a fist fight or Liam Neeson breaking down doors to find his daughter in Taken. It sounds like the stuff of Hollywood.

But real rescue can’t be depicted in a two-hour movie on the big screen. My experience as a former undercover investigator and now the leader of The Exodus Road, a coalition of more than 20 investigative organizations responsible for nearly 200 victim rescues in the past year, has given me a more realistic point of view.

The rescue of a sex slave actually requires a huge investment of time, resources, strategy and grit.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/reject-apathy/what-it-takes-free-sex-slave#Q9MLUaxqWkKQLS3V.99

National Slavery Prevention Month: How You Can Stand and Fight Part 3

27 million slaves.

The number sounds too big for me to make a difference.

After all, I’m only one person.

But I have a big God.

Over and over I have heard people on the front lines of this issue say that the biggest thing any of us can do is pray.

Because Satan is using all of his warfare fighting for evil in the world. Because people all over the globe are caught up this horrible issue. Because without God it seems a losing battle.

But God is bigger than Satan, bigger than the powers that are working for evil.

Here are some specific things you can pray for:

  • Pray for Christ’s victory over the evil that oppresses women and children.
  • Pray for rescue of human-trafficking victims.
  • Pray for safety for those working to rescue victims.
  • Pray that the perpetrators be brought to justice.
  • Pray for economic opportunities for those rescued, that they would not be tempted to go back to their old lives.
  • Pray for renewal and strength for those working on the front lines.

God is able to win over injustice. The most important thing we can do for those trapped in modern-day slavery is pray.

Question: Would you write a short prayer in the comment section below?

 

 

National Slavery Prevention Month: How You Can Stand and Fight Part 2

Did you know that your phone might have been built by slaves? That materials in your computer, iPad, iPod, and television could have been obtained by slave labor?

It turns out that there are four main minerals used in our electronic devices: tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold. Tin is used as solder on circuit boards. Tantalum (also know as coltan) is the essential semi-conductor in all electronics. Tungsten is what make cell phones vibrate. Gold is in your necklace but also in your TV.

One of the countries that is especially rich in these minerals is the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Greed for these valuable minerals has led to territorial conflicts. Various groups buy weapons from the profit of these minerals and then use these weapons to abduct children, turn them into child soldiers (a form of slavery) and force them to kill their families. These groups also use mass rape as a strategy to intimidate local populations, in order to secure control of mines, trading routes, and other strategic areas.

It makes you want to give up your phone and throw you television in the trash.

But I make my living on my computer — so what can we do?

One of the problems is the difficulty in tracing where those essential minerals come from. However, recent legislation has made inroads into making this a priority.

How can we help?

  • Find out if your favorite electronics companies are investing in conflict-free minerals. Are they taking steps to avoid buying their minerals from sources that kill, rape, and enslave?
  • Visit the Raise Hope For Congo site. Simply go to the company ratings page and discover where your company is ranked. The site is also set up to make it easy to send emails to the companies you buy from–urging them to invest in clean minerals.

Question: Post your name below if you visited the Raise Hope for Congo company rating page.

National Slavery Prevention Month: How You Can Stand and Fight Part 1

Shyima was from a family of twelve children in Egypt. Her family sold her to another Egyptian family when she was only eight years old. This family eventually moved to a posh gated community in Irvine, California. Shiyma was not allowed to go to school. She spend each day cooking and cleaning for the family and slept on a mattress in the garage at night.

Her captors told her that if she tried to flee or tell anyone about her living conditions they would kill her family in Egypt. They also told her the police would beat her if she escaped.

Shiyma lived for two years as a domestic slave until an anonymous tip called child protective services and got law enforcement involved.

This story is from Refuse to Do Nothing by Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Kim–an excellent resource for anyone wanting to do more to combat modern-day slavery.

It’s difficult to believe that slavery could be happening right in our own neighborhoods. And that’s why human traffickers are often successful–we just can’t believe it is really happening.

One thing we can all do to fight modern-day slavery is just to be more aware. Sure, a lot of human-trafficking in this country is in the sex trade, but here’s a list of  where human trafficking has been documented in the U.S.:

  • housecleaning services
  • landscape businesses
  • domestic help
  • construction sites
  • hotels
  • nail salons

Here are a few things to look for in your neighborhood or at these businesses. The person might be a human trafficking victim if he or she:

  • is not free to come and go as she likes
  • is afraid to discuss employer in the presence of others
  • is unpaid, or paid very little
  • has few or no personal possessions
  • works excessively long hours
  • avoids eye contact
  • has unexplained injuries
  • appears malnourished

Now here’s what you can do if you suspect someone is in a situation like this:

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888-373-7888.

In fact, put this number in your phone now so it’s available when you need it.

Stand and fight. You can make a difference.

Question: Did you put the hotline number in your phone? Simply put your name in the comment box if you did.

 

 

January is Slavery Prevention Month

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. So on Thursdays this month I will post about the topic of modern-day slavery.

I blog for Exodus Road, an organization committed to rescuing children caught in human trafficking–especially in Southeast Asia. Every time they are able to rescue a child they put a “freedom rock” in a jar in their home office.

They started 2013 with 24 “Freedom Rocks” but ended with 250! 250 boys, girls, and women rescued by local police and partners from sexual slavery in SE Asia and India. 

Girls like Mali* in Cambodia* who was trafficked from Burma along a known trafficking route to spend the next several months in a brothel, but who was rescued with 12 other young women by local police and field partners.

Boys like Jax* who identified a European pedophile for the investigative teams who then helped local police arrest the older man who had a history of abuse towards children.

Teenagers like Preena*, 16 years old, who was being held in a private residence, pimped out by a mother and her son. Today, however, because of funding provided to field partners, Preena is free and safe in an ater-care facility; her abusers, arrested.

Please take 2 minutes and watch the following video , and know that these 250 freedom rocks, and every single life that they represent, are part of your story, too.

*Names/places changed.

Question: How has learning about modern-day slavery changed you?

Making a World of Difference with Your Christmas Gifts This Year

chocolate
It’s no secret. I love chocolate. Especially rich, sweet dark chocolate.

During the holidays I like to eat chocolate, bake with chocolate, and give chocolate gifts.

But recently I made a disturbing discovery about chocolate.

Much of the chocolate we consume is produced with slave labor.

Lately I’ve been reading Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery, by Shayne Moore. It’s a powerful book and I recommend it to everyone who wants to find out more about this issue.

I found out from this book that seventy percent of the world’s cocoa is grown in West Africa with nearly half it produced in one country–the Ivory Coast. Cocoa is a lucrative crop, but the small plantation owner struggle to make a profit because corrupt African governments charge exorbitant taxes. In order to make a living selling cocoa beans the farmers turn to child labor. Some of the children work alongside their parents. But often the children working at these plantations have been lured away from their families in poor villages with the promise that they will be able to send money home. Or worse, children are kidnapped from neighboring countries and transported across the border.

At the cocoa plantation the children receive no pay and no education. They are only fed the bare minimum it takes to keep them alive. Their bodies bear the scars of many injuries from the machetes they work with.

Now when I eat chocolate I wonder if the delicious treat was produced by slaves.

That’s why, this Christmas, I have decided that when I give a gift of chocolate, I am going to make sure that it is fair trade chocolate. Fair trade means the product has been produced paying people a fair wage. Fair trade producers work to ensure economic sustainability and the economic empowerment of small-scale farmers.

If you want to join me in slave-free gift-giving this year, here are a few chocolate products that are fair trade:

  • Green & Blacks. This company controls every step of the chocolate-making process from “the bean to the bar,” paying Belize cocoa farmers fair trade prices and supporting their cooperative. And earlier this year, they announced their commitment to move their entire line to Fair Trade Certified in the U.S.
  • Divine Chocolate. Divine Chocolate is the world’s first farmer-owned, certified fair trade chocolate brand, dedicated to improving the livelihood of small-scale cocoa farmers in Ghana.
  • Equal Exchange. Their Fair Trade chocolates and cocoas are delicious treats that support small-scale farmers and their families, made with organic chocolate and sugar from co-ops in Central and South America.
  • Alter Eco. All of their products are Fair Trade certified. This means that all of the producers have been paid a price that ensures sustainable production and living conditions.

If you want to make an even bigger difference, order your chocolate through the Lutheran World Relief Chocolate Project. You will place the order with their partner SERRV, which donates 4% of your purchase through the LWR Chocolate Project to Lutheran World Relief’s work of ending poverty, injustice and human suffering around the world.

Make a world of difference with your gifts. Buy things that do not support slave labor.

Question: How are you making a world of difference with your gifts this year?

original photo source

Human Trafficking 101, Part 2

Although we may think that human trafficking only happens in places like Cambodia or Thailand, it really is happening in our backyards. It would be easier to ignore if it only happened on the other side of the world, but in truth there are modern-day slaves right here in the U.S.

Here are a few of the awful facts about the sex trade in America:

  • Human rights investigations have discovered that minors can be typically sold an average of 10-15 times a day, 6 days a week, totaling between 9,360 and 14,040 sex acts a year. The girls received none of the money.   (Source: Shared Hope International)
  • According to the California Child Welfare Council, kids as young as 10 are being peddled for sex every day in Los Angeles County … the average life expectancy of children who enter the sex trade is seven years. This means, on average, a child forced into prostitution at age 12 will be dead by 19.
  • It is estimated that between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked in the United States each year.
  • 50 percent of the people trafficked into the U.S. are children.   

 

What can we do?

The best thing we can do is–pray! Pray that God would protect innocent women and children. Pray that rescuers working to free modern-day slaves would be given success. Pray that good would triumph over evil.

We can also support organizations like Women At Risk International and The Exodus Road who are working to help rescue women and children and give them safe places to live and new ways to support themselves. Check them out!

 

Sex Trade 101

Modern-day slavery is a crime that seems too horrifying to believe. Because it is underground, we often don’t realize what is happening in the world, in the United States, or even in our own backyard. My next few posts as an Exodus Road blogger will give a short education on the issue and what you can do to help.

Today’s post is a simple graphic with some serious facts.

Take a moment to read the statistics and comment on which one was most surprising to you. (If you are reading this in your email, please click here to find the place to comment.)

Question: Which fact was most surprising to you?

Help Rescue a Child From Slavery

When I took the time to learn about the issue of modern-day slavery, I was appalled. I was shocked. I was overwhelmed.

After all, what can one person do to free the 27 million people who are caught up in this horror?

I ask:

“How Can I Help? What Can I DO?”

And this is the question, I think, that haunts most of us. We long to make a difference in the world that is human trafficking, and we want to see sex slaves freed. Yet the obstacles loom large, and they primarily involve the reality that the majority of us physically can’t do the actual work of investigation and rescue– particularly in the areas of the world where sexual slavery is rampant.

Exodus Road has developed a program where people who couldn’t go physically could actually hire someone to kick down a door on their behalf.

They call it the Search and Rescue Program.

Essentially, they’re inviting you onto a real-life investigative team. 

It takes about $35 for a night for one of their investigators to engage in local surveillance. Since they already have teams on the ground and since most of the teams are volunteers, Exodus Road is able to fund investigations with a fairly lean financial model. If you’d like to join a team, you will be “hiring” one of their investigators to go literally look for children and victims on your behalf in some of the darkest corners of the globe. Investigators will then take that intel to local police partners and will develop cases and raids from that initial intelligence.

The search fuels the rescue. And by investing in the teams, you would be putting boots on the ground, sending eyes to look for the enslaved

 Currently, they have four designated teams that they would like to empower. Each team has a code name (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta) and a brief description of their area of focus. You can find the team names and descriptions here. When you choose a team to sponsor for $35/monthly, you’ll have access to their field intelligence (though, as always, for safety, some details may be changed). You’ll get live updates as to the ways your team, specifically, is engaging in investigations, raids, and rescue. They’ll send you newsletters, incentives and even ways for you to connect and support your field team on a more personal level.

It’s the closest thing to the front lines we can get you. And it’s the most direct way we can find to give everyone the opportunity to fight for rescue.

Want to have a more direct hand in rescuing a child from slavery? Check out the Search and Rescue program at Exodus Road.

27 Million

27 Million

That’s how many men, women, and children are caught in the web of modern-day slavery.

It’s a staggering number.

It’s hard to comprehend the number, much less do something about.

In this video, the founder of Exodus Road talks about why he doesn’t give up even when it seems hopeless to change that number.

Pray for the courageous men and women who are working to end human trafficking.