Awakening of a Passion, Jay Campbell Style
The disturbing issue of human trafficking is stirring longtime Methodist and activist Jay Campbell into a new area of lay leadership. The more she learns and observes on the matter, the more passionate and determined she becomes in making her volunteer time and voice count.
Jay Campbell describes herself as a life-long Methodist and a life-long hippie who has a strong tendency to seek out causes to champion. “I’m very much of a social justice activist but did not know very much about human trafficking until this year,” she says, “when I accepted a committee assignment to research the issue and share my findings with others in the conference.”
While Jay has served on umpteen committees and projects over the decades, she says being elected last year at Annual Conference to COSROW (General Commission on the Status and Role of Women) has literally been a divine appointment. “I’ve been a member of Bering UMC for over 30 years and a supporter of human rights for my entire life,” she says, “but I am finding COSROW involvement to provide the place where my heart and soul can really engage to make a difference.”
An accountant by profession, Jay has long been a strong supporter of women’s rights, and has been stunned to learn from her research that human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the US, and a growing challenge throughout her hometown of Houston. Surprisingly, human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world, and the fastest growing. “ I have been shocked to find out how pervasive and large the problem is and that Houston is the center of so much of this activity. Human trafficking is modern day slavery,” she explains, “and I believe I literally witness it in action within my Montrose neighborhood as I pass pimps and prostitutes on my way to work every day.”
Through her newfound knowledge of human trafficking, Jay is learning how to recognize “storefronts” for sex slaves and what can be done. She has learned that these victims are subjected to force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor commonly occurring in strip clubs, massage parlors, modeling studios, restaurants, and agricultural work. “Most of us don’t understand how close it can be to you,” she says. “In fact, our COSROW chairman Hazel Jackson talks to all the women in her nail salon and has told the owner that she will report any suspicious activity.” According to Jay, victims can be young children, teens, women, and men. “Human trafficking is all about the money, and often involves importing people who can’t speak English and defend themselves.”
In early April, Jay (in photo at right) attended the “New Wind Dinner & Gala” benefitting Redeemed Ministries, a ministry seeking to be part of the redemption process of each victim through counseling, housing, education, job training. “Prior to this week, I did not know about this organization, but I like their use of the sparrow in their logo and their reference to human trafficking victims as sparrows that God cares deeply about.”
This violation of basic human rights propels Jay into action. “We all should be concerned about peace and justice issues, and human trafficking is very much a social justice issue,” she adds. “I appeal to all reading this to learn the signs as shown in these website resources, and to report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities. We may not be able to do everything, but we all can do something!” She is now subscribing to several email newsletters to learn more, and searching for brochures she can distribute from the COSROW booth at Annual Conference. “I see my mission currently,” she adds, “to spread the word about this injustice. I have also learned that I receive so much more for any volunteer effort than I feel I personally put in to it. It is always a 2+2=5 scenario for me.”
Spoken like a true leader.
Learn about the issue here:
The Project to End Human Trafficking – www.endhumantrafficking.org
Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition – www.houstonrr.org
20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking - U S Department of State – www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/index/htm
10 Ways You Can Help Stop Human Trafficking – www.morethanrice.com/10-ways-you-can-help-stop-human-trafficking