The trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation and forced labor is possibly the greatest humanitarian tragedy the world has known.
The United Nations estimates that there are over 2.5 million people in forced labor, including the sex industry, at any given time. This horrific practice affects 161 countries, essentially every nation in the world. Women are primarily the victims of trafficking averaging two out of every three people. The average age is between 18 and 24, but it is estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.*
Often victims of trafficking are tricked into captivity with promises of job opportunities. However, they are often sold into slavery to pay family debts or provide money to care for other children. There are even cases where the poor voluntarily give their children to traffickers believing they have found a family to “adopt” them and provide a better life. Regardless of how it happens it is clear that one of the leading contributing factors to human trafficking is poverty.
This is where Living Bread Ministries has a unique approach to impacting this problem. Our vision is to plant missional churches among the global poor. We believe this is an essential, perhaps the most important, element in fighting this evil. You may be thinking, how can planting a church curb human trafficking?
Our approach to church planting among the global poor is comprehensive. We plant churches that boldly preach the gospel and disciple their members to surrender every area of life to the Lordship of Christ. They are taught that following Christ means loving God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving their neighbor as themselves. They are taught that as Christians we are to love one another as Christ loved us laying down our lives for one another; bearing one another’s burdens.
As a result, they have a burden to care for one another in a comprehensive way. They love one another physically and spiritually. As part of our vision, we help to equip them to express their love for their community in tangible ways through various ministries like feeding, healthcare, educational, and development. This approach brings hope to the hopeless.
Human trafficking thrives where hope is absent. Desperate families trying to survive are especially vulnerable to those who prey upon women and children. When the gospel takes root and a local church, aided by the global body of Christ, begins to care for one another and the community, families find the support they need.
The gospel breaks the bondage to lies like karma and the poor begin to believe they can have a better life. They realize their value and worth before God. As real community forms, they begin to care for and protect one another. The church is able to help meet basic needs which helps guard against the desperation that leads so many into slavery. A gospel-centered local church is possibly the greatest protection a community vulnerable to human trafficking can have.
To learn more about Living Bread watch this short informational video:
*All statistics are taken from the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking report [PDF].