Global Vision and Human Trafficking – Davey Pittard - Luke 4:16-21 (Davey's First Sermon)
Hey so this past March I went on this trip called Global Vision. 5 adults and about 38 youth including myself went to Washington DC, New York City, and on Sunday we attended church in Philadelphia. I had an amazing time going on this trip and being with some of the other youth from this conference. It was a wonderful experience, but I went on this trip with a purpose. Today standing before you, I am carrying out that purpose or at least part of it. My purpose was to go on this trip and come back to this church, this community and make a difference with my newly gained knowledge of what I learned about in the seminars in DC and New York.
The topic for this year’s trip was Human Trafficking, and that is what we learned about. Now I spent three days learning about this topic and what I got was condensed, because there are seminars on this topic that go on for weeks, so I just wanted it to be understood that this problem is bigger than anything I can present about in the time that I have. But I’ll do the best I can or really I’ll do what God can do through me today.
Human Trafficking happens when one or more of three things take place: Force, Fraud, and/or Coercion. This is awful, but this is happening everywhere all the time all over the world and here in Burlington. Human Trafficking is not just something that happens in other countries, or in big cities, but it is in our communities hiding in plain sight. A common image of Human Trafficking is of someone being kidnapped, thrown into a van and forced to be a sex worker. This is actually a rarer thing than what actually happens.
I’ll give you an example that was given to me of what might happen to someone. A girl goes to a party and they are serving alcohol, but she doesn’t drink so instead she goes to get a bottle of water. Now the music is playing really loud in the place, so when she goes to open the bottle she doesn’t notice that the bottle didn’t make that cracking noise that you hear when you open a bottle. She was drugged. The next thing she knows it is morning and she’s waking up, but remembers nothing from the night before. Then a guy comes over and shows her a video of what appears to be her having consensual sex, and he tells her that he won’t show it to anybody if she does a little something for him. Long story short, this girl is coerced into prostitution.
Many sex workers that you see are not there because they wanted to be there but are in reality victims of Human Trafficking. Sex slavery is only one form of Human Trafficking. Two other forms are forced labor, and when people are taken for their body parts. We actually didn’t learn much about the latter but we did learn about forced labor. In one of the seminars survivors of forced labor came to talk to us. These were women from the Philippines who were defrauded and then coerced into being domestic workers for people.
Each of them had different experiences, but what happened to them was in some cases their passports were taken away, they weren’t allowed to leave the house, injuries and medical needs sometimes went unmet, they practically had to raise the families’ children, always working and paid next to nothing. There was one lady who was paid two hundred dollars for two years of work. Another lady was hurt while working and she told the woman of the house and the woman of the house told her not to worry about it that she would take care of it and that the lady could just pay her back. Keep in mind that what little money they received they sent to their families that are on the verge of poverty.
Forced labor is huge. Not only is it in this form but our clothes, our food, our sports equipment, etc. lots of it is produced by using child slavery and forced labor. It is a hard truth to accept but it cannot be ignored any longer. There are more slaves in the world today than in any other point in history. Every 120 seconds 4 children are sold into slavery, 120 in an hour, 2880 in a day, over 1 million children each year losing their innocence and childhood to slavery.
It is time to stand up and make a difference, but how can I do it? I told you my purpose for going on this trip was to comeback and make a difference, but the truth is that I cannot do it on my own. It takes a church, a community to come together and work to make a difference.
Jesus the great example with the Spirit of the Lord upon Him was anointed to bring good news to the poor, sent to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. As followers of Christ we too are to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, recover sight to the blind, let the oppressed go free, and proclaim that God is making all things new, because the Spirit of the Lord is upon us.
We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. How many times have you heard that? Sometimes we forget or take for granted the powerful truth that these words contain. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Together we can too because He strengthens us.
So what can we do to end Human Trafficking? We can be cautious and informed consumers; we can buy fair-trade products, go to stores and ask them to carry fair-trade products, boycott companies that use slavery, write letters to congressmen, talk about it, inform others, report suspicious activity (here’s the Human Trafficking Hotline, I would like everyone to write it down and to put in your phones because you never know when you might need it), encourage companies to sign “The Code” which is the “Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct” and is the only internationally accepted framework that sets a standard of responsible business practices to effectively crack down on the sexual exploitation of children, and we can donate to organizations that are dedicated to ending Human Trafficking.
I don’t just want to give this presentation and be done with this. These are real people like you and me, they are Children of God, people that Jesus died for, and it is time to make a stand and free our brothers and sisters, our family, from their slavery.
I will begin talking with people about what we can do after this and get to work on it immediately. Also if you want to help take action, please don’t wait for me to ask, but come to me and tell me.
It is time to make a difference. We have a purpose to fulfill and we can do it in whatever was God leads us. The Spirit of the Lord is upon us, feel His presence, be strengthened by Christ. We can make a difference because we can do all things through Him, and that includes ending Human Trafficking.