“There is nothing new under the sun.” Solomon penned those words millennia ago and his observation has largely stood the test of time. Oh, sure; we have new ways of doing things. Labor saving technologies have increased our efficiency, but the basic functions of human life remain utterly basic.
For instance, agricultural advances have made it possible for farmers to produce yields that would have been unimaginable just a hundred years ago. Is that something new? No, it is feeding ourselves. That’s something we have always done. Tractors and irrigation are only a new and better approach to an old task.
What about smart phones? Aren’t they new? Smart phones enable us to access and share data faster than ever before. They are able to process media in dozens of different formats. But really, we have been processing media ever since the first humans drew on cave walls or beat on drums. Smart phones and web-access have simply sped up the process, for better or worse.
More data, more exposure to ideas, faster access…the increased pace of information is simply another new way to process an ancient human experience. This includes exposure to problems and needs. Social media has made it possible for everyone across the world to be instantly aware of needs, and respond in kind. Remember the mud-slides in Sierra Leone last summer? I found out instantly through a friend that lives in Freetown. Hours later, international news outlets were carrying the story, while survivors were still trapped under the mud.
GoFundMe pages are a dime a dozen. The faces of missing children are splashed all over our news feeds. Political campaigns, Police and Firefighter associations, animal rescue foundations, all of them have joined in the incessant buzz of information. What else can we expect? This is the same activity that we humans have always done, on a digital platform. Faster. And broader. Instead of sharing with our village, we now share with the entire world.
How is a supporter to choose where to give? I say, support the greatest need. I want to highlight human trafficking for you. What can possibly be worse than being sexually exploited? This is another example of an ancient activity that has simply moved to a digital space. Chances are, if you are reading this, you are already aware of the situation. Children are kidnapped or coerced and moved to major metropolitan locations across the world (yes, even in the “civilized” west!) and kept enslaved for the perverted use of unscrupulous men. Most of the people that are forced into this lifestyle are exploited, become addicted to drugs, get sick, and die young.
In response, some brave folks have begun to combat human trafficking. Those on the cusp of this wave are the new abolitionists: brave, empathetic, fueled by a deep sense of justice, anger, and compassion. You may already know some of these people and the organizations they have built: International Justice Mission. Exodus Road. Trafficking 911. Dozens of like-minded groups have stood up in the last decade to renew the fight against slavery, that was tragically dormant for much of the 20th Century. We thought Wilberforce and Lincoln might have won the fight. We were wrong.
What can we do? Clearly, the campaign to raise awareness is in full swing. Some of the Anti-Human Trafficking (AHT) links you see on your social media feed will simply add to the white-noise of information that you sift through on a daily basis. They are important. Read and share them. We can also give. Most of the AHT organizations are not publicly funded, and subsist on generous donations. They need our financial backing. A few people will volunteer. Organizations like The Poiema Foundation function mostly with volunteer labor, although it takes a special type of person to “put boots on the ground”.
One especially new field in AHT needs more exposure than it has been given so far: aftercare. It is easy for operations that locate and liberate human slaves to get press-time. It’s glamorous. It’s exciting. It’s the quintessential Hollywood drama: good guys burst through the door and save the underdog. But what happens after that? Aftercare. This is a relatively new (albeit, ancient) avenue of ministry to the most oppressed people in the world.
Our friends at Genesis Ranch exist to do the long, hard work of restoring hope to victims of human trafficking. Coordinating with State and Local law enforcement officials, folks in psychology and trauma-care, GR staff are passionate about not only justice, but restoration as well. The ancient Hebrews were liberated from slavery and brought to the wilderness to recover and what it is to be free sons and daughters of God. So while GR is part of a new field of ministry, the concept is as old as Moses. Follow the link and get involved.