Youth & Community – (by Kevin Potter)
In a land that is perceived to be a land of freedom there are many lives that are not free. As I get to know more of the stories around the issue of slavery here in the US, rape and abuse are constant threads that weave their way through. A significant method of control, amongst the traffickers, is to rape a person on a regular basis for at least a year, so that their self-will is broken and they become a compliant commodity. Beatings and threats of physical violence are also common factors.
In a recent survey by an LA health organization it was found that there are several points of community interaction that a traffiked person can experience.
These range from meeting health care providers, relatives of the abuser through to interacting with people in shops and restaurants.
However, one point of contact highlighted on the list was congregations. Some people who are traffiked are taken or go to a local church.
The silent cry of the abused is outside and also inside the church.
Our challenge is; are we a community of love that enables the cry to be raised and in our life together as a church do we have ears to hear it?
Sadly one of the areas traffickers focus on is towards women, children and people who feel unloved, left out and not included. Yet Jesus came to show how much love the Father has for mankind.
Another personal challenge was in mulling over that my daughter, is within the average age range that girls get traffiked. The average age that girls are traffiked and trapped into sexual bondage in the USA is between 12 and 14. My daughter is 13.
All of us should be challenged and held accountable as to how often we express unconditional love to our children and make it clear through words and action that they are loved. This alone is one simple yet powerful shield to combating traffiking.
Other simple ways to fight traffiking is to be actively part of a community; family, friends, church, school or work place, that is safe and loving and engages in living out the love of Jesus Christ.
Recently during a web seminar that I had with some folks from Texas. We were discussing human traffiking and its effects and how young people can quickly be caught up in trafficking and controlled and abused by individuals and gangs.
In the course of the discussion “Trap Houses” were mentioned. A trap home used to be a house where people went to buy drugs. However, in some places it has now morphed into a place were a group of runaways are kept and controlled by a pimp or a series of gang bosses. These runaways have every item of ID taken away from them and they are rigorously controlled. Often the “Trap House” does not need to have the doors barred as the kids are held by more than physical locks.
Some of the youth go around neighborhoods selling magazines and stuff, other groups are made to sell sex. If you ever have a young person come to sell you something at your door and they do not have a mobile phone, any ID and are not worried where their next meal is coming from, contact your local human trafficking hot line. Click here for the USA numbers.
In the worst cases the kids may be branded on the back of the neck or on the wrist with the name of their pimp or controller. This is so other criminals will know the kids are owned by someone.
Jesus said, I have come to set you free. His mandate was to release the captives and that mandate is the same for all people who follow his life & teaching and who call him Lord.
As we become more and more aware of these situations and as I work with churches and various groups in the US, our challenge and hope is to encourage communities to be the opposite of a “Trap House” and be a home, a place, a community where freedom, love and grace can be seen and tasted.
Such a community has the possibility of creating an environment whereby someone who are being abused or traffiked would, either immediately or over a period of time, be able to share their situation and seek help.Article By Kevin Potter