What Can We Do? Breaking the Bonds of Human Trafficking
By: Sherri Gragg
In 2016, as part of a Conference-wide effort to bring awareness to the problem of human trafficking, First United Methodist Church, Sugar Land, participated in a 5k and half-marathon in Katy, Texas. Through that event, the church was awakened to the tremendous needs of men, women, and children whose lives are bound by human trafficking. When church members returned home to Sugar Land, they had one burning question on their hearts-
“What can we do?”
Church member, Karen Jordin, led the way by reaching out to local organization, Child Advocates of Fort Bend. From there the church discovered, and joined, Freedom Church Alliance through which they were introduced to a host of organizations working actively to raise awareness concerning the prevention of human trafficking.
“The statistics are startling,” said FUMC Sugar Land Director of Missions, Jimmy Fenwick. “Very few human trafficking victims make it back out. Prevention is a huge focus. We want to help families be aware of how to protect their children and how to recognize the signs.”
Houston is a major hub for human trafficking, with the Houston Chronicle reporting that the city has more “brothels than Starbucks.” “The good news,” Fenwick said, “Is there are four churches for every brothel. There is hope.”
One of FUMC Sugar Land’s first steps was to participate in the Go Box project. When the FBI encounters victims of human trafficking through the course of a sting, the Go Box project provides the victims with a tangible expression of hope and dignity, offering them clean clothes, a snack, and toiletries. FUMC Sugar Land filled 100 of the boxes. “It seems like a small thing,” Fenwick said, “but it is 100 lives we touched with the love of Christ.” From there, the church offered a five-week Go Box Class to offer the community the chance to hear from various organizations involved making a difference for victims of human trafficking.
Practical First Steps
Fenwick urges churches overwhelmed by the crisis to simply start somewhere, and offers practical actions that make a difference:
- Call Freedom Church Alliance for valuable contacts and information.
- Learn more about Go Boxes and how they offer dignity to those rescued from human trafficking.
- Join the Red Sand Project to raise awareness.
- Visit the UnBound website to learn more about the issue of human trafficking.
- Help keep kids safe through Children at Risk, an organization dedicated to ending the trafficking of children.
Are you interested in beginning a ministry to help combat human trafficking? Fenwick is ready to help. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org