Sex for Sale

“Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

• According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately      $31.6 billion each year. Specifically, trafficking for sexual exploitation generates $27.8 billion per year.  There are 1.39 million victims of commercial sexual servitude worldwide.

• Every 30 seconds another person is trafficked into slavery.

•  The U.S. State Department estimates that no less than 17,000 men, women and children are trafficked into the United States annually.

•    According to ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), as many as 100,000 U.S. children are forcefully engaged in prostitution or pornography each year.

•   Sex slaves are often forced to service 20 or more men per day.

•    According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), the average age of first entry into pornography and prostitution for boys and girls is 11-14 years of age.

•    Florida is ranked as one of the top three regions in the nation for human trafficking cases (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: Child Sex Slavery in Broward and Dade Counties, Florida 2009).

•    As many as 2.8 million U.S. children live on the streets.  According to the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2) , one out of every three of these children is lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.

•    The websites Craigslist & Backpage contain tens of thousands of listings for the sale of sex, often involving girls who have been trafficked, as well as involving minors whose age has been falsified to make them appear “legal.”

• According to the United Nations, 99% of sex trafficking victims worldwide are never rescued.

Did  you know that there are more than 30 million slaves in the world today—more than at any other time in human history? Did you know that nearly 1.5 million of those slaves are men, women and children who are bound in commercial sex trafficking, forced to prostitute themselves for the financial gain of others? Did you know that 99% of all persons trafficked are never rescued?

As the globalization of the world, fueled by the growth of the Internet, has broken down the barriers that once existed in legitimate commerce, a much darker industry has grown up alongside the information superhighway. The sale of human beings for the purpose of sexual use and abuse has exploded into a global epidemic in recent years. From the girls working downtown U.S. street corners, whom most assume “want” to be there, to elementary-aged Thai children whose families permit their sale out of pure greed, sex trafficking now spans the globe as perhaps the most sickening and nefarious injustice taking place in our world today.

Locally, studies show that Florida is third in the nation for reported cases of human trafficking. Thankfully, local churches and ministries are refusing to stand on the sidelines any longer. The following are some local initiatives that are meeting the issue of sex trafficking head-on right here in our own backyard.

Hope for Freedom
(West Palm Beach)
http://gochristfellowship.com/volunteer/life-missions/global-life-missions/hope-for-freedom/

Julie Mullins, founder of Christ Fellowship’s Hope for Freedom ministry, describes being rocked to her core while watching an expose on sex trafficking in Thailand and Cambodia one day. Julie says, “I heard the words ‘modern-day’ and ‘slavery’ used in the same sentence and I became so overwhelmed and brokenhearted. Until that time, I thought slavery had ended with the emancipation proclamation. My husband Todd and I knew we had to use our sphere of influence do something. The Hope for Freedom ministry is our church’s response to this crisis.’”
As the senior leaders of Christ Fellowship, the Mullins have seen their church respond in a powerful way. In 2009, Hope for Freedom launched “Garage Sales for Freedom,” and saw over 500 Christ Fellowship families hold garage sales where trafficking awareness information was distributed to each attendee. All proceeds raised from the sales were then combined and donated to anti-trafficking organization Love 146’s victim aftercare program in Thailand. Garage Sales for Freedom was so effective that the ministry is planning to repeat the effort this fall.

With initiatives encompassing Awareness, Education, Prevention and Restoration, Hope for Freedom is taking steps to abolish human trafficking both at home and abroad. The ministry is partnering with Palm Beach County foster care ministry Place of Hope to open a safe house for minor girls who have been trafficked. This safe home ministry will take in girls 13-18 years old who have been victimized and is scheduled to open this fall.

Julie shares, “In Luke chapter 4, Jesus tells us that He has come to preach the good news to the poor, bring freedom to the prisoners, and release the oppressed. That is our mandate as His church. We are anointed and appointed to set the captives free, and it is our prayer that the Lord will use Hope for Freedom to bring freedom and healing to those who have been trafficked, as well as to work towards the total abolition of human trafficking worldwide.”

Upcoming: Stay tuned to the Hope for Freedom web page for more information on Yard Sales for Freedom coming up again this fall. Also, on November 17th, Hope for Freedom will be a part of the “Yoked for a Cause” women’s event (see yokedforacause.com), featuring A21 Campaign founder Christine Caine. Hope for Freedom will be one of the recipients of the funds raised as a part of this one-day women’s event.

Millstone Mission
(Fort Lauderdale)
http://www.calvaryftl.org/ministries/millstonemission/

As a church, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale (CCFL) has been involved in human trafficking ministry for nearly 20 years, beginning with the rescue of child soldiers in the West African nation of Liberia. More recently, CCFL has actively joined the fight against modern day slavery through the launch of anti-trafficking ministry Millstone Mission. The ministry takes their name from Jesus’ words in Luke 17:2, “It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.” Lysa McMillan, who is spearheading the initiative for CCFL, shares, “In this verse, we hear the passion and protectiveness of our God. We need to take on that same passion to stand up for those being abused in this way. This issue is deep in the heart of God, and it needs to be deep into our hearts as well. This means to not just talk about it, blog about it, or Facebook about it, but to roll up our sleeves and do something about it.”

According to McMillan, CCFL is rolling up their sleeves to address the human trafficking epidemic through Millstone Mission’s threefold approach of “Reveal, Rescue, and Restore.” The Reveal component is being accomplished through ongoing events to raise awareness of the issue both inside and outside of the church. The Rescue component is being tackled through an approach of “protection through prevention.” Millstone is currently using performing arts programs to reach out to high-risk girls right here in Florida, in hopes that a combination of relationship-building and education will prevent them from becoming trafficking victims.

As for the Restore component, this fall Millstone Mission is opening a safe house for foreign adult women who have been trafficked into the U.S. for the purpose of sexual exploitation. McMillian shares that U.S. authorities will grant these women temporary immigration amnesty due to the fact that they have had a crime committed against them. This provision will allow the women to enter the Millstone Mission home, where they will be led to Jesus as their source of healing and restoration. McMillan concludes, “’In Exodus 3:7, God says, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people….I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering.’” She continues, “God is deeply grieved by, and deeply acquainted with, the suffering of those who are trafficked. Our desire is to minister God’s love to these vulnerable women by providing the safe and loving environment where they can come to meet Jesus the healer.”

Upcoming: Millstone Mission will be hosting a human trafficking awareness event in early October, and the safe house launch is right around the corner. Visit the Millstone Mission webpage for more information on how you can support their efforts in the fight against trafficking.

The Garden/His House
(Miami Gardens)
http://hhch.org/

Located in Miami-Dade, His House is a faith-based foster care home that has been working closely with Florida’s Department of Children and Families to minister to children in need since 1989. With the explosion of human trafficking in recent years, Founder and Executive Director Jean Caceres-Gonzalez knew that God was calling His House to do something more. Caceres-Gonzalez shares, “We read in Psalms 82 that the Lord has called us to defend the weak and the fatherless. In the Gospels, we see how much Jesus loves prostitutes. These girls need intense love, service and attention, and a safe place to call home. That is what we are planning to provide.”

According to Caceres-Gonzalez, at the time of this publication, there are approximately 50 active documented cases of minor girls being sex trafficked right here in South Florida. His House is preparing to provide a place for these victimized girls when they launch “The Garden” program later this year. The Garden will be a long-term residential program that will meet the specific and unique needs of minor girls who have been sex trafficked. Caceres-Gonzalez shares that, thankfully, there have been some very positive changes to Florida State law in recent months that have paved the way for these girls to receive the help they so desperately need. “The Safe Harbor Act and Florida House Bill 99 contain provisions that allow for law enforcement, and the whole system of care, to treat young victims of trafficking as victims as opposed to criminals. Girls can be taken to a safehouse instead of arrested and incarcerated.” Caceres-Gonzalez continues, “This is critical in breaking the cycle, as these girls are usually very bound in allegiance to their trafficker by a bond that the trafficker has strategically created.  These traffickers make themselves god and savior to these girls by giving them everything they think they need to feel worthy. It is only the power of God that can break this bondage and break the cycle of the girls returning to the lifestyle. Through the ministry of the Garden, we plan to introduce these girls to Jesus, their true God and Savior, so that they can be healed, restored and truly changed.”

Upcoming: The launch of The Garden program is planned between now and the end of the year. Contact His House for more information on how you can assist through financial support, donations or volunteering.

God’s heart breaks every time a girl that He loves has her innocence and the very core of her being trampled at the hands of a sex trafficker. It is high time for the global church to mobilize to stop the horrific injustice of sex trafficking and to minister God’s love, grace and healing to the victims. You simply cannot remain uninvolved for another second.

For ways you can help starting immediately, visit http://www.thea21campaign.org/21-ways-to-help.php

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