“It’s hard to imagine this horrific crime happening in our own backyards, but the truth is Virginia had the ninth-highest number of reported human trafficking cases nationwide in 2015,” wrote Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring. 1 Human trafficking victims have been identified in cities, suburbs and rural areas in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C. according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which makes available detailed, local statistics. 2
Have you had a chance to display the posters distributed by our Synodical Women of the ELCA (SWO) in January 2017 in observance of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month? “We greatly appreciate your help in placing these posters in your churches and in your communities,” says Wilma Dublin, SWO Human Trafficking Awareness Committee Chair. Seeing a hotline number, website and email may be a lifeline. A link to the poster in English or Spanish is also available from the SWO website 3 in addition to other resources such as a bulletin insert.
“It is estimated there are 30 million men, women and children enslaved around the world. Natural disasters, disease and conflict have brought about unimaginable troubles,” adds the Rev. Bob Allard of the synod’s Global Missions Committee. “For human traffickers, these hardships represent business opportunities.”
“Educate yourselves by reading about it. Follow events in the news. Talk to friends, family and colleagues,” encourages Dublin. The Women of the ELCA churchwide organization has many resources to facilitate education. 4 From their human-trafficking awareness-raising presence at the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering are links to eye-openers like “How many slaves work for you?,” 5 a “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor,” 6 and a “Human Trafficking 101” quiz 7 as well as tips for recognizing warning signs around you.
“Participate in the Poster Campaign,” Dublin urges; and, “Pray for victims, survivors, traffickers and professionals involved in anti-trafficking work.”
Good and gracious God,
You made the human race in your own image, and you love and cherish every single human being.
We ask you to bless and protect all those who suffer because of human trafficking: victims, family members, survivors and abusers themselves.
Turn the spirits of those who do evil.
Give courage and hope to those to whom evil is being done.
And give to all of us such a vision of human possibility that we will refuse to allow this kind of sin among us but will rise up, be freed from our easy excuses, and take steps to end what we should never have tolerated.
Let us be the heart of this heartless world, which is also your precious creation and which you are changing into the kingdom of your Son, in whose name we pray.
~ Bishop Graham’s prayer shared at a 2015 interfaith prayer service
1 Email forwarded by the Rev. Bob Allard, 2/8/16