Christians must fight human trafficking

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    The Christian commandment to provide comfort and justice to the most vulnerable in our society was vividly taught by our savior Jesus Christ in the book of Matthew, Chapter 25, verses 34-40, when describing the final judgement.

    Human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking – the buying, selling, and enslaving of human beings for sex – is the very antithesis of Jesus’ teaching. And so it is our Christian duty to fight this sinister underground industry that has grown dramatically in the United States and traps our most vulnerable citizens in a cycle of drugs, sex, and violence.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the United States. It makes billions of dollars per year for criminals, while destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens.

    The grisly and perverse details of human trafficking make it a hard reality to stomach and confront. Horrifying stories such as the 13-year-old girl in Miami whose pimp tattooed his name on her eyelids and a 15-year-old girl in Seattle who was sold for sex over the Internet more than 150 times, cause us to turn away and sometimes ignore the scourge altogether.

    Christians, we must answer the Lord’s call to duty as Jesus taught in the Gospel of Matthew and protect our young people who are being bought and sold as slaves and those who are most vulnerable to the predators who look to take advantage of the innocent and use them for these most heinous of acts.

    Christians must take their heads out of the sand and face this challenge and abide by Christ’s teachings to take care of the most vulnerable citizens among us, our young boys and girls, who are easy prey to the perverse and evil modern-day slave traders. People of faith must join the fight to combat human trafficking!

    President Trump joined the fight with a White House listening session last year.

    The U.S. Justice Department recently held its first national summit on combatting human trafficking. The department followed President Trump’s lead and has taken action across the country with successful prosecution of over 550 human traffickers last year alone.

    The federal efforts have also been joined by state and local law enforcement officials, who have created entire units within their departments to deal specifically with human trafficking.

    A bipartisan coalition of legislators in the U.S. House and Senate has also taken substantive action to fight traffickers over the past year. The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act was passed recently and now awaits President Trump’s signature. This legislation provides law enforcement with the necessary tools to fight predators who buy and sell children for sex, and gives states and victims the power to sue websites that facilitate human trafficking.

    The federal, state, and local legislative and law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking are successfully rescuing thousands of victims and arresting and prosecuting traffickers. However, government and law enforcement actions are not enough. Far too often, traffickers and victims go unnoticed in our own communities.

    This must change, and Christians must do their part to protect life and innocence. We must be diligent in looking for the signs of victims in our local neighborhoods, schools, shopping centers, parking lots and even our own churches.

    We must look out for boys and girls and young women and teenagers who we know or maybe recently have come into contact with those who display signs of physical abuse, hyper-sexuality, new and expensive clothing, sudden bouts of depression, unexplained absences from normal activities including school and church, older boyfriends, and new tattoos (including tattoos of names and/or symbols, and gang affiliations).

    As Christians and citizens active in our community, we will most likely come across traffickers themselves and might even know someone engaged in the crime, and we must remain diligent as we become more aware of those signs as well.

    The signs include: men and women who are significantly older than their young companions and who react to normal interactions with jealousy and violence; adults who promise and sometimes deliver wealth and expensive gifts to young people; someone who is vague about their profession; and adults who encourage their younger companions to engage in illegal activities and inappropriate sexual behavior.

    If you see or hear of situations where these warning signs are apparent, is it extremely important to immediately speak with your pastor or priest or elders you trust, or contact law enforcement by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. You can also call your local police or sheriff’s department and report incidents where the warning signs of sex trafficking are readily apparent.

    Christians, we must answer the Lord’s call to duty as Jesus taught in the Gospel of Matthew and protect our young people who are being bought and sold as slaves and those who are most vulnerable to the predators who look to take advantage of the innocent and use them for these most heinous of acts.

    Those who answer this call will receive their heavenly reward when the King of Kings says unto you, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

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