United States (MNN) — Earlier this week we discussed how human traffickers often target individuals who have been through the foster care system. Today we’re going to talk about how traffickers use similar vulnerability to keep people enslaved, and what happens when they are freed.
World Missionary Press supplies Scripture booklets at no cost to ministries as diverse as the needs in the world. More recently, they have begun to supply these booklets to ministries helping women who have come out of prostitution and other forms of human slavery.
We spoke with Joe Chadburn of World Missionary Press who has been in communication with several ministries around the United States helping victims of trafficking. He says this particular vein of ministry is part of seeking out those around the world who have the greatest need.
The greatest need
The statistics for such a powerful and under-the-radar industry understandably vary from source to source. However, all of these numbers are staggering in the worst way.
Citing Redeemed Ministries, Chadburn says, “It’s estimated between 28 and 30 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. Roughly 80 percent of those are female, and roughly 50 percent are children. That particular industry creates about $32 billion annually.”
Traffickers commonly target runaways because they are more vulnerable. In fact, about one in six runaways considered endangered ends up becoming a victim of sex trafficking. As we mentioned earlier, 60 percent of runaways who end up being trafficked into the sex trade had once been through social services or the foster care system. There is a history of hurt that has caused them to runaway.
Chadburn says, “Figure a young girl has left home, doesn’t know her father, has had a really bad situation that for whatever reason left. And a lot of these men, these pimps, will get these young ladies off the street, but really pretend to care for them and be their boyfriend and supply their needs and everything before they introduce them into this lifestyle.”
Meanwhile, Chadburn explains, the psychological stronghold these men have over their captives keeps them from fleeing.
“So often, they will hold things over these young ladies heads because they know who they are on social media or they’ve already befriended them as boyfriends or whatever to begin with, earned their trust. So they threaten their families.”
Another tactic these captors use is to demean there victims — going even so far as to brand or tattoo them as property.
And although the majority of victims in the United States are from the United States and speak English, there are those brought from overseas who do not speak the local language. It adds another level of bondage to these individuals in particular.
Healing, restoration of hope
The large majority of traffickers worldwide are men. The large majority of those trafficked are women. This, he says, badly damages their view of and ability to trust men.
After they come out, Chadburn explains, what they need to know most of all is there is a Man out there who loves them, who is a Good Father, and who has everything they need. True healing can happen through a relationship with this Man, Jesus Christ.
“For us to be able to get these Scripture booklets into these homes and these places where they’re rescuing these victims — they’re able to get them off the counters, they’re getting packets. Our Scripture booklets are extremely Christo-centric, they can take them and they’re just going to point them straight to a Father who loves them and a man who died on the cross for them.”
The thought behind this ministry is that, no matter what stronghold someone finds themselves in, God can break through. It’s about trusting in the Holy Spirit to work through His Word.
“The written Word is so important, the spoken Word, and us being living epistles and living it out. That’s why so many of these ladies who work and help and run these ministries and these shelters are just so precious.”
Another aspect of ministering to those who’ve been trafficked takes place in prison after individuals have been arrested for prostitution.
A life in slavery can be characterized by quite a few adjectives — hopeless, trapped, broken. But it is often at rock bottom that Jesus meets us.
“I think so often, we’re taught to be self-sufficient and strong and to do everything on our own and really lean on the arm of human strength and the human mind, but that [only] takes us so far. I think a lot of times when people are at [their] wit’s end and when they are in a place where they’re really hurting, they are open.”
Do you have a ministry or group of people you interact with who could use these Scripture booklets? Perhaps you have refugees in your neighborhood who speak a different language. Consider requesting materials for them here.
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“We want to seek and save — that’s what the Savior does through us, the Good Shepherd — those who are lost.”