I have read several stories in World Magazine (see Andree Seu's editorial, which as of September 14 2006 is still in the free area of the website) about the problem of modern day slavery and human trafficking, but felt powerless to act. And then at the Presbyterian Global Fellowship conference in Atlanta, I heard a Sharon Cohn from International Justice Mission speak about how her ministry is addressing the problem in a practical way (see my earlier post).
I came away convicted about this issue and I did a little bit of research on who is doing what -- in hopes of finding some way to be personally involved and encourage the church to be involved. International Justice Mission does fine work and we should support them, but they don't do domestic cases -- I wanted to find out what is happening locally.
First I found the Polaris Project which is "...a leading international organization combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Based in the United States and Japan, we bring together community members, survivors, and professionals to fight trafficking and slavery in the spirit of a modern-day Underground Railroad." (quote from their homepage). While not a faith-based organization, they're doing all kinds of local equipping so that churches can get involved. They are building a network, and just happen to have a chapter in Ohio -- that chapter is sponsoring a human trafficking conferencing in October. They're partnering with local law enforcement to put on the conference, so I believe it'll be pretty practical -- below is the save the date poster for you Ohio/Kentucky/Indianans who are interested:
I also found that the church is doing work. The Salvation Army has been fighting modern day sex slavery since the late 1800's (phooey on those who say that evangelical Christians dont care about social issues) -- they've got an extensive list of resources on their website.
The Salvation Army has also helped create the Initiative against Sexual Trafficking, a broad coalition of evangelical groups working to combat sexual trafficking (see their resource on things you can do)
I also put a phone call in to Chris Iosso at the PCUSA denominational headquarters -- asking what we as a denomination were doing. He was very timely in his response -- our Washington and UN Offices have been doing some policy work with lawmakers around this issue; meanwhile Women's Advocacy and Presbyterian Women's have someeducational resources and work with some broader networks to combat trafficking. Chris has also been terriffic with follow up -- sending me a few articles as he comes across them -- so a public thanks to the PCUSA folks working on this issue.
I'm not sure what's next other than the conference on the 30th, but those who want to join me for the journey are welcome.
Soli Deo Gloria