International (MNN) — Over the last 10 years, the number of slaves in the United States has exploded from 50,000 victims to 300,000.
A week ago, the nation observed Human Trafficking Awareness Day, but U.S. President Barack Obama declared all of January to be Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
York Moore, modern day abolitionist and evangelist with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, says the acknowledgement of trafficking in the U.S. and around the globe is vital. The product of human beings is growing in demand, blasting human trafficking from its place as the third-largest global enterprise to second. The only enterprise larger is the drug trade.
"When we think about commoditizing people, you're creating a product that actually can be consumed over, and over, and over again," explains Moore. "That makes it extremely lucrative."
As disturbing as the facts are, the month of January has been dedicated to learning more about this exponentially growing trend. With the time in January that's left, Moore encourages people to educate themselves on the facts. Resources include the State Department's Trafficking In Persons Report, statistics from International Justice Mission, the Not for Sale campaign, books like The Slave Across the Street and many others that you can find here.
Awareness includes knowing the facts, but it also includes making a change. Multiple changes. Moore notes that there is some danger in setting aside a month specifically to abolish worldwide slavery; by February, most slaves will still be in bondage.
"Their suffering isn't contained within a day. Their suffering isn't contained within a month. They continue to suffer long after we've read the book, or listened to the podcast, or listened to the conference speaker," says Moore. "That reality should really shape how we live on a daily basis."
Our responsibility as Christians is even greater. "To be a global Christian in a day where we see this proliferation of human trafficking means that we are required to ask ourselves: How does our faith not only inform our practice as individuals, but what does the church actually have to do with providing sustainable solutions for those who suffer?"
InterVarsity has asked and answered this question, jumping in to attack the human trafficking problem while sharing the hope of Christ. Campuses across the globe have gotten involved with awareness campaigns through InterVarsity, but the ministry is also working on sending ex-slaves to college through Hagar International.
In October 2013, InterVarsity will host another "Price of Life" campaign to be held this time in New York. Awareness and funds will be raised, but the Gospel will also be shared with the thousands who attend.
There are a number of ways for you personally to be a voice for the voiceless in this matter, many of which may even lead to opportunities to share the Gospel. First, become educated with the resources already mentioned. You can even track your Slavery Footprint here, to see what commodities you should avoid to ensure you aren't exploiting slave labor without knowing it.
When you find your Footprint, a list of ways for you to get involved will also be offered. You can also get involved regularly by joining in the work of anti-trafficking groups, and most importantly, by praying daily for the millions of victims forced into labor and prostitution.