Let My people Go

by Amanda Pearson
Posted on 1st June 2014

Mobilising for Anti-Trafficking Mission Work

One child is trafficked every 30 seconds. Awareness raising campaigns have made the anti-trafficking movement a growing global movement, yet the needs remain overwhelming and the workers are few.

Justice issues are an integral part of mission. The problem of human trafficking and modern-day slavery is a relatively high profile issue following effective awareness raising campaigns by organisations such as Stop the Traffik, Hope for Justice, MTV Exit, CNN Freedom Project, the A21 Campaign and, most recently, Tearfund. Campaigns like these have made the anti-trafficking movement a growing global movement. Several of these are Christian organisations and there is a long history of Christian involvement in the abolition movement, justice issues and social reform. Matt Redman and LZ7's chart-topping single in 2012 called "27 million"; a song written in light of an estimated 27 million world-wide slaves, is an example of awareness raising to awaken the church to the issue of human trafficking. The effectiveness of these campaigns means that people are being mobilised. Many of these are Christians, responding to God's heart for this issue and searching to serve in this area.

A Global Problem

there are an estimated 29.8 million people in modern slavery globally

According to the Global Slavery Index report (2013), published by the Walk Free Foundation, there are an estimated 29.8 million people in modern slavery globally. Most of the countries ranked highest on the Global Slavery Index are in the 10/40 window region (www.globalslaveryindex.org/explore). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Global Report on Trafficking in Persons (2012) gives quantitative insight: 27 percent of victims are children, 75 percent of victims are women and girls, trafficking for sexual exploitation accounts for 58 percent of all trafficking cases, while trafficking for forced labour accounts for 36 percent. The report also indicates that conviction rates are very low. A European Union (2013) report found that the number of trafficking victims in Europe increased by 18 percent between 2008 and 2010, while convictions decreased during this period. An International Labour Office (ILO) report in 2008 estimated that annual profits generated from human trafficking are as high as 32 billion US dollars. Trafficking is the world's fastest growing crime.

Phnom Penh slum

Most trafficked people are among the world's poorest, the most vulnerable in society, those unable to defend themselves, people who can easily be made to disappear. Recruiting and exploiting a vulnerable person is relatively easy for criminals intent on profiting from those individuals' hopes of a better life and often carries a low risk of detection (UNODC, 2012). Don Brewster, CEO of Agape International Missions, featured in Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, a 2011 documentary film about modern human trafficking, says that when he and his wife went to live in Svay Pak in Cambodia a few years ago, "100 percent of the kids between 8 and 12 were being trafficked". Brewster also says this, "Speaking candidly from the ground war on trafficking, we desperately need more recruits in the battle. The truth is that despite great strides made in the fight, the problem of sex trafficking remains huge and there are more girls who want to escape than there are places for them to go." This resonates with my own experience on the mission field: I worked for 4 years with trafficked women and the needs were overwhelming and the workers too few.

A wide range of skilled people are needed: nurses, midwives, social workers, teachers, lawyers, art therapists and counsellors etc. Business as mission is a very effective strategy: alternative jobs are crucial in enabling people to walk free, since sometimes they are trafficked because their families demand financial support from them. So, skills in business, marketing, design, production, editing, writing, helping with websites, even electricians are needed. As well as skills to address people's spiritual needs: discipleship, teaching, prayer ministry, intercession, even church planting.

Our Response

There seems to be a problem with the connection between those mobilised and the need

There are many who feel God is calling them to work in this area of mission. People are responding to this growing global movement, awareness has been raised and people have been mobilised. They are often young, energetic, passionate, emotionally engaged and actively discerning their calling. A potential new movement of cross-cultural mission workers. They want to respond, to go, to use their skills but often they can't find the link, the bridge, the organisation, the mission agency to facilitate them moving into this area of service. There seems to be a problem with the connection between those mobilised and the need. On the one hand, are traditional mission agencies positioned to engage with this new group of mission workers? On the other hand, have this new group of potential mission workers ever come across the concept of a mission agency in order to search for one online, make contact and take the next step? Some people are sent by their churches who often have little experience of supporting cross-cultural mission workers. This is an area of mission work where support, member care systems and experience of the region needs to be already well established, something that mission agencies are best positioned for.
My story was that the calling and country were clear, but my question was, "How do I get there? How do I get linked in, how does the connection between here and there happen?" I was "searching to serve" and, fortunately, I was at a Christian conference where OSCAR was exhibiting and, through conversation with them, the link was made - the calling, country and mission agency (which was the missing piece) came together. But many others are trying to get connected.

For Individuals

For those who have already been mobilised and are sensing God's prompting to serve in this area of missions, why not search OSCAR's opportunitiesĀ at www.oscar.org.uk/opportunities.

For Mission Organisations

Is your mission organisation interested in connecting with those wanting to serve in this area? Is your mission organisation able to position itself to engage with those sensing a call to anti-trafficking ministry? What would this look like for your organisation? Can you connect with those who have already been mobilised and enable them to move out into the mission field? OSCAR can help you promote these opportunities. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

Amanda Pearson was a mission partner in Cambodia for 4 years, seconded to a local Non-Governmental Organisation that reaches out to victims of sex trafficking. She is OSCAR's anti-trafficking consultant.