Archive for the tag “Sex trafficking”

Departure-lounge Christians aren’t following Jesus

departure_loungeIs there anyone who doesn’t hate long layovers when you’re traveling alone? The airport teems with people, but they’re all strangers. Some wander aimlessly about the terminal, but most travelers have their eyes riveted to a “mobile device.” Virtually no one is looking to interact with a flesh-and-blood human being. The Airport Authority tries to make the place more interesting, but the best they can do is a nondescript shopping mall like the one you have back in your own city – where, by the way, you are as rootless and lonely as you are at the airport.

Author Michael Frost thinks the airport departure lounge is more than a powerful metaphor for postmodern life. He also sees a warning of grave danger for Christians who claim to follow a God who “became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood,” as one colorful paraphrase of John 1:14 has it.

The airport departure lounge is “full of people who don’t belong where they currently find themselves and whose interactions with others are fleeting, perfunctory and trivial,” says Frost in his new book, Incarnate: The Body of Christ in an Age of Disengagement. Even though the core idea of the Christian faith is incarnation – the idea that God took on flesh and came to live among us – Western Christians today are being swept away by a culture that is rootless and disengaged, “connected to our world more and more through screens, rather than face to face.”

Frost calls it “excarnation.”

The spiritual climate produced by this disembodied faith “is a culture of individualism, narcissism, materialism and triviality,” says Frost, who is founding director of the Tinsley Institute, a mission study center in Sydney, Australia. “In such an excarnate environment it is easy to objectivize others, rank feelings above morals, prefer the therapeutic above the transcendent and nonconformity over authority, and absolute freedom becomes an intense form of slavery.”

Self-absorbed people inevitably treat other people as objects. On one hand, Frost says, morality becomes disembodied and the vulnerable are decimated by pornography and sex trafficking. On another hand, reason is disengaged, exalted as the road to knowledge, and “ruthless ideological debates” rage against other people we have reduced to cartoonish stereotypes.

“We are creating new generations of believers who know more than they choose, who understand things they never act upon, who discern ideas they never use,” Frost says. Churches resort to “stagecraft, sensory pageantry, charismatic leadership and an upbeat, unchallenging vision of Christianity to provide their congregants with a powerful emotional religious experience.”

Instead of making disciples who make disciples, we create “shy, socially awkward, emotionally removed and risk averse” cripples who are “unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships ….”

When faith is reduced to knowledge, the church has abandoned its mission of being the body of Christ among the broken souls around it. A generation distracted by its mobile devices thinks it can pursue its mission of multiplying God’s justice by clicking and hashtagging. We are quick to Like on Facebook and text to donate, thinking we have done good, yet we never get personally involved with someone who needs to be set free from the power of sin and death.

Everyone wants “to take the ‘road up’ to a poverty-free world, but no one [is] willing to get there via the road down, into the gutter, among the poor themselves,” Frost says. “But the incarnation teaches us that the way up is via the downward road.”

He adds: “In a time of disengagement and excarnation, the body of Christ is required all the more to embrace a more thoroughly embodied faith, a truly placed way of living that mirrors the incarnational lifestyle of Jesus.”

God-in-the-flesh came to live among a particular group of people. He walked among them. He touched the lepers and healed the blind and lame.

Frost says: “Instead of churning out books, manuals, DVDs, podcasts, websites, tweets, status updates, Jesus took a band of protégés to his elbow and humbly but relentlessly passed on the ‘hidden rules’ of service. Like Jesus, incarnational leaders model it, live it, breathe it and invite others to copy them.”

And more: “What the world so desperately needs are incarnational servants of Christ to wade into the muck and stench of this world and to partner with the locals, as broken as we all are, in helping to shape human society as God intended it to be.”

From God’s lips, to your ears.

Departure-lounge Christians aren’t following Jesus. He’s out in the neighborhood.

Cross-posted from here.

Three ways to fight the sex trafficking plague

More people are understanding the plague of sex trafficking is more widespread than they realized — even to the point of infecting their own neighborhoods. But what can one person actually do to fight back?

Trillia NewbellTrillia Newbell writes for ERLC:

News outlets across the nation reported the rescue of more than 100 teenage victims of sex trafficking. From a statement from Ronald Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, NBC reported that the sting resulted in the arrest of 159 “pimps” from San Francisco to Miami; the youngest victim was 13 years old. For many, this may be the first news of such atrocities occurring in these United States, the land of the free.

Sex trafficking is not only happening, the numbers are staggering. The FBI estimates that nearly 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Victims are often young, from broken families or orphans. They are taken and sold for forced sex or prostitution. Most are girls, but boys are exploited as well.

Sex trafficking is a global issue. The FBI reports that it is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world. Money and lust motivate men and women to abuse and exploit children in ways unimaginable, so much so that I have resisted linking to the plethora of graphic and disturbing images and articles describing the torture these children endure day in and day out. I’ve seen only a small portion of what this might look like.

As a young and naïve college student I had no idea what I was about to stumble upon during my visit to Amsterdam. I knew that marijuana was legal and that I might encounter it (oddly, I never did). But I did find myself in the middle of the Red Light District. The images I saw have haunted me since that trip. Women posing in windows for anyone to gawk at as voyeurs walked by. It is legal. It is blatant. And I now know it was a small taste of the devastating sex industry. What I saw was tame compared to the many reports of secret housing holding women hostage to be raped repeatedly.

As we learn about these tragedies the question that haunts us is, what can be done? How can the church help? The Psalmist wrote, “For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight,” (Psalm 72:12-14).

Because of its criminal nature we are slightly limited in what we can do; but limitations aren’t impossibilities. And we know nothing is impossible for God. Here are three ways you might get involved.

1. Pray

The poor, needy, oppressed and orphan are special to the Lord. We can bow before God and ask Him to rescue “the needy when he calls.”

— Pray for government officials to continue to crack down on these crimes and for the criminals to be found.

— Pray for families to be healed and children to be protected before a sex-trafficking criminal can reach them.

— Pray for the salvation of all those involved, that the Gospel would penetrate hearts and break the sinful bondage that entangles them and pour out forgiveness and grace.

— Pray for healing for the girls and boys who have been rescued, that they would be able to return to society and live healthy, normal, productive lives.

This is not an exhaustive list, the prayer needs are many.

2. Be informed

You can’t share what you don’t know. This article is only an introduction. Various organizations have produced information to keep you informed and some are developing tools to help you remain active.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board shares Christ and serves those in spiritual and physical need through avenues such as OneLife’s One Woman and One Brothel projects.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s website has an entire page devoted to resources on human trafficking.

Other organizations, such as International Justice Mission, Salvation Army, Sower of Seeds, Project Red Light Rescue and the Nefarious: Merchant of Souls documentary, provide numerous resources to help you get started.

3. Spread the word

Because of the horrific nature of sex trafficking, many of us do not want to face the truth that this could happen right under our noses. One way to assist is to inform your churches and neighbors. Many articles are graphic in nature and therefore require discernment regarding which to share. There is, however, information available.

Through prayer, sharing and education we can be active citizens in helping the fight against sex trafficking. We won’t be able to solve the problem in one day, one year, or even five; but by the grace of God we can be the feet of Jesus to a world that is dying and for these young girls and boys who are enslaved in the most inhumane way.

Learn more about how you can become involved in fighting sex trafficking by clicking here.

The Netherlands awakening to the wages of sin industries

amsterdamNot even 15 years into The Netherlands’ liberation to legal drugs and prostitution, and politicians have discovered they have transformed their picturesque home into The Netherworld. Because of their enlightened legislation, sex trafficking exploded, along with drug tourism and organized crime. The economy, rather than booming, has imploded. As the author of the article below notes:

Legalisation has not been emancipation. It has instead resulted in the appalling, inhuman, degrading treatment of women, because it declares the buying and selling of human flesh acceptable. And as the Dutch government reforms itself from pimp to protector, it will have time to reflect on the damage done to the women caught in this calamitous social experiment.

Julie Bindel writes in The Spectator on why even Amsterdam doesn’t want legal brothels:

In 2000 the Dutch government decided to make it even easier for pimps, traffickers and punters by legalising the already massive and highly visible brothel trade. Their logic was as simple as it was deceptive: to make things safer for everyone. Make it a job like any other. Once the women were liberated from the underworld, the crooks, drug dealers and people traffickers would drift away.

Twelve years on, and we can now see the results of this experiment. Rather than afford better protection for the women, it has simply increased the market. Rather than confine the brothels to a discrete (and avoidable) part of the city, the sex industry has spilt out all over Amsterdam — including on-street. Rather than be given rights in the ‘workplace’, the prostitutes have found the pimps are as brutal as ever. The government-funded union set up to protect them has been shunned by the vast majority of prostitutes, who remain too scared to complain.

Pimps, under legalisation, have been reclassified as managers and businessmen. Abuse suffered by the women is now called an ‘occupational hazard’, like a stone dropped on a builder’s toe. Sex tourism has grown faster in Amsterdam than the regular type of tourism: as the city became the brothel of Europe, women have been imported by traffickers from Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia to meet the demand. In other words, the pimps remained but became legit — violence was still prevalent but part of the job, and trafficking increased. Support for the women to leave prostitution became almost nonexistent. The innate murkiness of the job has not been washed away by legal benediction.

The Dutch government hoped to play the role of the honourable pimp, taking its share in the proceeds of prostitution through taxation. But only 5 per cent of the women registered for tax, because no one wants to be known as a whore — however legal it may be. Illegality has simply taken a new form, with an increase in trafficking, unlicensed brothels and pimping; with policing completely out of the picture, it was easier to break the laws that remained. To pimp out women from non-EU countries, desperate for a new life, remains illegal. But it’s never been easier.

Legalisation has imposed brothels on areas all over Holland, whether they want them or not. Even if a city or town opposes establishing a brothel, it must allow at least one — not doing so is contrary to the basic federal right to work. To many Dutch, legality and decency have been irreconcilably divorced. It has been a social, legal and economic failure — and the madness, finally, is coming to an end.

The brothel boom is over. A third of Amsterdam’s bordellos have been closed due to the involvement of organised criminals and drug dealers and the increase in trafficking of women. Police now acknowledge that the red-light district has mutated into a global hub for human trafficking and money laundering. The streets have been infiltrated by grooming gangs seeking out young, vulnerable girls and marketing them to men as virgins who will do whatever they are told. Many of those involved in Amsterdam’s regular tourist trade — the museums and canals — fear that their visitors are vanishing along with the city’s reputation.

Read the rest of this provocative post by clicking here.
HT: Gene Veith’s Cranach

You can help fight sex trafficking through Shared Hope International.
This Multiply Justice partner ministers to girls rescued from brothels.

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