International (MNN) — Today marks the World Day Against Trafficking In Persons – an annual event geared to raise trafficking awareness. Between 25 and 40 million people are trapped in forced sex or labor worldwide. COVID-19 lockdowns make this crisis even worse.
Lockdowns lead to isolation, which leads to vulnerability and abuse. “The exploitation of children online is huge,” notes Tracy Daugherty. Daugherty leads The Freedom Challenge, an initiative of Operation Mobilization USA.
“[At] this time last year, there were 3 million reports. This time [there are] 7.7 million reports of child pornography. That is huge, and that’s right under our nose.”
As explained here, child pornography is only one of human trafficking’s many evils. Each year, the U.S. State Department releases an update on human trafficking statistics and anti-trafficking efforts worldwide. Plus, websites like this one and this one describe who’s typically affected and what to watch for.
Human trafficking information abounds online, yet public awareness remains low. Freedom Challenge equips everyday believers to fight the evil hiding in plain sight.
Setting captives free
The Freedom Challenge raises awareness and funds to support anti-trafficking efforts. It began in 2012 with a Freedom Climb, growing and expanding over the years to a multifaceted endeavor.
The pandemic is changing their methods this year, but it’s not stopping Daugherty and her team.
Instead of organizing one big annual event, The Freedom Challenge is empowering women to raise support through localized, one-day events. These “regional challenges” allow women to speak up for those enslaved while still obeying pandemic restrictions. Learn more here.
Plus, adapting its approach allows The Freedom Challenge to keep pursuing biblical justice.
“When we talk about biblical justice, it’s all about restoring the image of God back to its original design; bringing dignity to that woman who could understand that she is worth more than her body.”
Find your place in the story
Daugherty describes three ways you can come alongside The Freedom Challenge to fight human trafficking.
According to Ephesians 6:12, human trafficking has spiritual roots. Its consequences are tangible – “These are real children, real people who are being exploited,” Daugherty says – but believers must wage spiritual war as their knowledge grows.
“That awareness drives us to prayer,” Daugherty continues.
“If we believe that Jesus is the hope for the world, then we believe that prayer is vital in fighting this battle – magnifying God above all of this darkness.”
Ask the Lord how He wants you to respond to this story. Then, follow through in obedience. If He calls you to give, click here.
“There are so many places that God is moving,” Daugherty says. “There’s a place for everyone at the table to engage around this.”
Want a tangible way to fight human trafficking? Sign up for the California Regional Challenge here. Or, make it personal through “My Freedom Challenge.”
“We had a group of women who raised almost $20,000, and that was quite remarkable. We had another woman who climbed Mount Whitney,” Daugherty says.
Header image courtesy of The Freedom Challenge.