Since 2010, The White House administration has declared January for the prevention of human trafficking. This is because between 2008 and 2010, the FBI investigated 2,515 suspected incidents of trafficking in the U.S. Human trafficking is seen as modern day slavery and is increasing at a rapid rate both at home and across the globe. Globally, that number skyrockets to a staggering 20.9 million people forced into labor and human trafficking, according to estimates by the International Labor Organization.
Human trafficking can happen to anyone. However, traffickers typically prey on vulnerable populations or "easy" targets such as women and children and those who are runaways, homeless, and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Traffickers are looking for someone who will go with them without a fight whether that's a child or someone in a desperate situation in their life. And the less stable someone's life is, the higher the probability that they'll agree to go with someone under false pretenses such as the promise of a job or relationship.
That's why it's so important we continue to empower people around the world and create jobs so they can lift themselves out of poverty and decrease their risk of being trafficked. Job creation and empowering women is at the heart of Jesus' Economy. It's why we offer handmade, fairly traded products to you in our Fair Trade Shop. It's why we started an empowering women program for women who need help jumpstarting their businesses. It's why we dig wells in remote villages so thousands of people can have access to clean water and stop walking miles to get it.
With our Fair Trade Shop, we can give artisans all over the world a boost by offering their products to the western market and telling their story to a wide audience. Money doesn't just stay in the village anymore, exchanging hands without anyone actually doing better, it becomes international and whole families are lifted out of poverty.
Suddenly they're not choosing between food and shoes or school and walking to get water. It creates jobs for the artisans and allows them to give their family a "normal," stable life with consistent income. More stability means less chance of someone in the family being trafficked because of the promise of a job or lots of money.
Because of our initiatives to empower women, we've seen women all over the world boost their business sales and provide for their families' needs. The more products they sell and training they get, the more empowered they become. Simple put, empowering women who were once impoverished and felt hopeless helps prevent trafficking.
On the border between Tanzania and Kenya, a lone ministry is tackling the drastic poverty all around them. Learn about the devastating legacy of Female Genital Mutilation, underaged pregnancies, polygamy, and HIV/AIDS, and how Christ's pull on one man's heart has turned ashes into new life.
On today's "Live Your Beliefs" podcast, I -- Kalene Barry, Chief Projects Officer for Jesus' Economy -- interview Evans Magwe.
Evans Magwe is the Founder and Director of the Nyabohanse Children Rescue Centre (NCRC) in Isebania, Kenya. NCRC serves poor and underprivileged children, many of whom are orphans lacking food, shelter, clothing, and basic education. Find out more about how you can support NCRC at their website -- $2 a day can help a child in need.
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It is hot and dusty. Jesus is tired, hungry, and thirsty from walking a great distance. His disciples have gone on ahead to purchase some food to replenish them all for the journey. Jesus languishes by the well. Not just any well, but a Samaritan well. He also has no bucket to draw water with to rehydrate and cool himself down.
It is noon. All the respectable women have already drawn their water and left the well long ago. But wait, here comes someone—a woman glancing furtively as she approaches the well. All she needs is water, but she silently wonders about the business of this stranger resting by the well. First, he is a man, and everybody knows that drawing water is a woman's business. Second, it is quite apparent from his dress and features that he is a Jew, and Jews typically despised Samaritans like her.
Jesus breaks the silence first. “Please give me a drink.” Incredulously she replies; shocked that he would make such a request of her, let alone speak to her. After all, she was both Samaritan and female, and one of questionable notoriety. Jesus’ response to the woman demonstrates that he does not discriminate nor show partiality. Instead, he offers the woman access to his living water: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13–14 ESV).
The woman leaves the well a new person—as a missionary. She rushes with excitement back into her city, testifying of her experience with Jesus and asking, “Could this be the Christ?” John tells us that many Samaritans believed in Jesus simply because of this one woman's testimony. They then persuaded Jesus to stay with them another two days, and many more believed because of his own words.
Time and time again Jesus demonstrated that he had deep compassion on women like the one at the well. Jesus pitied those in pain (think of the widow of Nain, the woman healed of her bleeding, and the woman he heals on the Sabbath). Jesus valued the role women could play in sharing the good news; if Jesus, our example, showed such love and compassion towards women, then we ought to also. When we see the plight of hurting women around our world, we should respond.
In Papua New Guinea, my husband, Brad, attended a meeting at church headquarters. As the meeting concluded, a scuffle was heard across the road. A man was yelling and screaming at his young wife and giving her a thrashing. Brad was shocked that none of the pastors moved to rescue the woman, and when he asked why, their response was, “she belongs to her husband, and how he treats her is his business.” Fortunately for the young woman Brad didn't hold the same view, and when the husband saw the crazy white man come running across the road yelling at him he took off in the opposite direction.
I had a 14-year-old girl in tears on my doorstep one morning. After a lifetime of rejection and abuse, she had made a mistake at thirteen and had sex with a boy, and her family was insisting that she drop out of school and marry the boy. Quite likely it was motivated by the fact that they needed her bride price to pay for their son's bride, who was already pregnant. This is just one of thousands of tragic stories.
In Papua New Guinea, many women have been forced into sex, often by a man they know. Up to half of all girls are at risk of becoming involved in sex work trafficking. One third of all sex workers are less than twenty years of age. Many are forced into marriage from the age of twelve under customary law. And this situation is repeated all over the globe. Jesus, the man who loves the oppressed and wants to offer them a better life, would have much to say about this.
So what is the solution to empowering women around our globe: How can we contribute to it? Jeremiah 13:23 says: “Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” So how can we ever hope for those who are perpetrators of abuse to change?
The answer is Jesus. Ezekiel 36:26–27 says: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” And this is the work that happens through Jesus—he is the one who can bring change when it seems like nothing can change.
Let us pray for and support those who are sharing the love of Jesus for everybody. Let us join the cause of empowering women around our globe. May the love of Jesus free women worldwide so that they can live without fear of abuse.
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