I am writing in a crowded airplane one my way back from a speaking engagement in Austin, TX. In preparation for my speaking engagements I always like to research what organizations already exist, find out what they are doing, and research online activity (ads) in the area. My heart feels a little raw on this flight back. There were a plethora of young girls being advertised online, 157 to be exact, by 9:30AM on a Sunday. My heart sank after meeting with a fellow advocate for the area when she told me that there were no resources. There is not a shelter, outreach program, or ministry actively working to combat exploitation in Austin. My heart grieves for that city.
Maybe you are thinking: “That is so sad. Someone should really do something about that.” What about you? What are YOU doing to stop it? Pat’s on the back after a speaking engagement and words of support mean absolutely nothing to me. I cannot tell you how many Churches and groups I share at who respond in righteous anger, weeping, and begging for a way to get involved only to never hear from them again. Pity will not stop human trafficking, in fact it will only perpetuate it. The aware but inactive person is just as bad as the buyer or trafficker in my book. They know what is happening, but they go about their life minding their own business. Silence is permissive to the works of darkness.
You are either on one side or the other. There is no gray area here as much as people try to create it. “Oh maybe when my kids are in school… I am just too busy… I am already serving in ministry… I will just leave it to the experts…” Sound familiar? You are either a pitiful facilitator of slavery or a compassionate advocate. Advocates drop what they are doing to run to the side of a victim. They go out of their way to offer a shot at freedom. Advocates will not rest until they know they have done everything they could. Facilitators clock in their volunteer hours, wear the t-shirt, talk the talk, but never go above and beyond. Their “advocacy” is never a sacrifice, but rather a trophy. Advocates are willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary.
Compassion requires action. It is not silent. It does not sit idle. Compassionate people are compelled to do something, anything. Outreach to the trafficked population is tough. There is no sugar coating the affects of radical levels of brainwashing, violence, manipulation, and creative coercion on the individual or culture. It truly takes an army. There is a place for everyone in this, but your emotional heart waves must make it to your extremities if you want to be part of it. That is compassion, movement. That is what I pray will move across cities all over the US like Austin, TX. It is time we stop talking and start walking. Get involved in a local outreach team, start gathering the resource contacts you will need for survivors, and partner with local ministries to fill in all of the gaps. Feel free to contact me for contacts in your area, a survivor resource needs list, or to book me to train your community. Every one has a part to play, but everyone must be educated before they can jump in. Put your compassion into action. In the words of Shia Labeouf, JUST DO IT.