Right now there are as many as 27 million people enslaved around the world. Some are working in underground factories in our own country, some are harvesting cocoa beans in Western Africa. Sadly, one country bares the shame of being home to at least half of all modern day slaves: India.
Each one of the 27 million trafficked human beings has a unique story. We often feel we are hearing the SAME story over and over, but each story has a hurting heart at its center.
Human trafficking in its darkest incarnation is arguably trafficking a child specifically for the purpose of sexual exploitation in the global sex trade. Some statistics state that a child is trafficked into abuse and violence every 30 seconds.
Project Red Light Rescue works in some of India’s largest and most notorious red-light districts. We help rescue and restore healing and hope to trafficked women and children and those who are at risk. This year we have adopted a project theme for Project Red Light Rescue: Every Minute Matters.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is in many ways the heart of Mumbai. It is the busiest train station in India. Every day, tens of thousands of the megacity’s pedestrian traffic passes through or over the station’s 14 platforms.
This is where the city inhales families seeking relief from the poverty that haunts rural India. Poverty and its associated indicators like hunger, malnutrition, decreased life expectancy, and general desperation is the driving force behind the large number of orphaned and abandoned children in the city.
Girls who find themselves left or lost at this train station face a darker misery than hunger and abandonment. With one of Asia’s most notorious red-light districts just over two miles away, this is also the most likely place where traffickers quickly move in to offer “assistance” when they see a hungry girl wandering around.
Raika was a frail five-year-old girl when she entered the rescue program. She was born into a family who lived on the streets around the train station. Her parents earned a meager income as day laborers around the city.
Knowing the dangers the streets posed to little girls, Raika’s mother started looking for a place where her five-year-old daughter would be protected.
Raika’s mother came into contact with a church outreach team through a feeding program at the train station. This is when she heard about the program for girls like Raika.
It is too easy to imagine where girls like Raika, now 12 years old, would be today if there wasn’t a church doing outreach in the community.
Stories like Raika’s are an affirmation of the church’s call to the community. And this is why groups of ladies who had been rescued as a result of brothel outreaches now patrol the station on the lookout for warning signs only trained eyes would recognize.
There are teams whose dedication and determination to put an end to slavery is unrelenting, and they are saving lives. The church in India has room to grow, and we have a role to play in the process of snatching lives out of darkness and into light.
Just like Mumbai is a community, you are part of a community. Just like Mumbai, with its 20 million inhabitants who navigate rush hour every morning and evening, we, in our own communities are at the very same time busy with our routine, whether it is putting the children to bed, preparing for a big meeting the next day, or taking a moment to read our Bible.
Hard subjects like slavery have a way of hiding themselves from our everyday thoughts and our everyday prayers.
Isolation is no challenge for the God of Creation. Having seen young faces that have been spared the horror of captivity in a brothel, I sometimes feel that the question we should be concerned with is not so much where those 27 million slaves are today, but who they are.
This April, as we celebrate Easter and remember Christ purchasing our freedom with His blood, is the perfect time to renew our hearts’ cry to God on behalf of each man, woman, boy, or girl who find themselves trapped and robbed of their freedom and innocence.
God knows each and every heart sitting in slavery today, and He longs to rescue them.
Those who have been stolen from their families, now sitting in cages, hidden from daylight on the other side of the world should be as present to us in our prayer closets as they are absent to their earthly moms and dads.
Jesus states the purpose of His mission: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come” (Luke 4:18, NLT).
“The LORD says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!” (Isaiah 65:1, NLT).
Are we calling on Him to end this injustice in our communities and in our world?
Jesus calls us salt and light in this world, and He is walking with us when we go into dark places. We cannot do this alone.
“As the light approaches, the earth takes shape like clay pressed beneath a seal; it is robed in brilliant colors. The light disturbs the wicked and stops the arm that is raised in violence” (Job 38:14-15, NLT).
Ending slavery is going to take some effort from all of us, and every minute matters in the race to see it stopped.
Perhaps you are willing to dedicate a portion of your time to pray for them and to dedicate a small portion of your monthly budget to help support this program that is actively working to put an end to the unimaginable horrors of human trafficking and sexual slavery?
To find out how you can help, check out our website at: www.sowerofseeds.org.