Reflections on the Planning

I love and hate that God asks us to do things that are way outside of our comfort zone.  My pastor has mentioned often that he is a huge introvert and really doesn’t like getting up in front of people.  But God called him to be a pastor and he’s an amazing one!  For me, I can’t stand planning things.  Even planning a get together with friends drives me nuts!  I would much rather someone else make all the decisions and let me know where I need to be when and what I’m supposed to do.  And yet, inevitably, I will feel God say to me, “Sarah, I think you could plan such and such.  You know, I really want you to plan such and such.  It would be great for you if you would plan such and such.”  And I start down the fairly stressful path of planning an event. 

I don’t do this often.  It’s really God who has to convince me that it’s something I need to do.  But He did so back in November of last year.  If you can’t tell, something that weighs heavy on my heart is the atrocity of human trafficking.  I’ve been in exposure and awareness mode for the last few years – learning as much as I can, attending various events, getting connected with others who are concerned about it as well.  But, as I helped out with a Fall shopping day for Stop Traffick Fashion, I really began to feel like it was something our church needed as well. 

And I cringed.  I would have preferred to tell the ladies in my church about it and then they plan it.  I would even have consented to talking about it in front of the church (another thing I’m not a huge fan of doing), but with the words coming out of my mouth, the task was placed in my hands.  Our WMU leader was really excited about the idea, because she had been reading a couple of articles recently about human trafficking in the church women’s literature.  God was in this.  I’m not saying that I did it all – by no means – Brenda Heckman and Julie Johnson (Christmas tablecloths and all *wink) and Amy Jones and Jo Collas…they are some amazing ladies.  I’m so grateful to have them as role models to learn from, especially in regards to unity of kindred women and…the dreaded – hospitality. 

I am not practiced in hospitality at all.  I can’t remember what all is needed to make people feel comfortable.  For me, I go to an event to learn something and to network…and I assume everyone else is there for the same reason.  Shocking, but that’s not really the case.  Thankfully, the ladies mentioned above organized the food and decorating and there wasn’t much for me to do on that part besides being a grunt and moving tables and chairs. 

My primary task was organizing speakers and getting the word out to the community.  I may not have done the last part as well – and really the first part, I’m thinking went exactly as it should have gone, but nothing like I planned.  I was anticipating having a speaker share at each hour something in regards to human trafficking.  Emily would share about Stop Traffick Fashion and Hagar International.  I would talk about the Christian responsibility and upcoming events in the community.  And the one I was most excited about, a Hamilton Police Officer would come and share about human trafficking in our community, state and nation. 

It was awkward trying to figure out how we were going to stop everything and have everyone listen to a speaker for all of 5-10 mins and then go on their way with eating and shopping.  The only really solid group of “fresh” people was right between 10:30 and 11:15.  So, I asked for Officer Collins to share with everyone what she had been researching.  And it was great!

I wasn’t surprised that, as a local police officer, there wouldn’t be much experience with human trafficking.  I would be surprised if even the local sheriff’s department had any experience with human trafficking.  Our wonderful local sheriff isn’t that keen on the rights of illegals – no matter what condition they are in.  So, I wasn’t surprised when she shared that she got wide eyes and remarks of disbelief or discredit from fellow officers when commenting that human trafficking may be an issue in Butler County, OH.  She talked about not finding much information within the department to go off of, so she began to broaden her scope to the state of Ohio and then to the US.  She was surprised to find that Toledo is #4 in Top Cities of Human Trafficking.  Ohio is #7 in the US for human trafficking.  It’s an issue in every city (which would include Fairfield and Hamilton…”every” being an all-inclusive term).

I think that about 50 people came to the event.  Most of them bought something from STF.  But what I’m most excited is how God brought me to a job where I would meet this police officer, who I could then coordinate with and share a concern and a need in our community with.  And that she would then become interested in the issue and maybe work on spreading it to the rest of the department. 

I don’t know what this means for Butler County.  I don’t know if we’re on the edge of something starting or if it will take a few more years for anything to get going.  I don’t know what my part will be or if I will even have a part in it.  But I know that I am available to God – even if it involves more planning – that I will keep going until He stops me. 

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Nat’l Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today, January 11th, is the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.  If I had been better prepared, I would have had this post ready to publish first thing in the morning, but I did not, so here it is.

You can call 1.888.373.7888 any time, day or night, 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year to report a case of human trafficking.  Human trafficking can take the form of slave labor (including domestic servitude) or forced sex labor and can involve adults and children alike.  The average age of a trafficked child is 12 years old.  Victims of trafficking find themselves there by methods of force, fraud, or coercion.  They might be paying off “debts” with enormous amount of interest.  They may be threatened with violence or abused as well as their families.  They can often be taken across national borders to a country where they don’t speak the language – their paperwork could be forged or missing entirely and they often fear the police as much as their captors.  This fear is usually justified as when the crime is found, they are lumped in with the criminals instead of treated as a victim – many times they are sent back to their own country to live in their shame and risk being trafficked again.

This modern-day slavery is more heinous and comprehensive than the form of slavery fought over in the Civil War.  It is the fastest growing organized crime and second only to drug-trafficking (which is estimated to be surpassed very soon).  If you think that the United States is exempt from this, you are sorely mistaken.  Cases of human trafficking have been reported in every state.  The US has been found to be a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked individuals.

I’m going to list quite a few organizations/people/businesses I follow, either on Twitter or Facebook or whatever.  I would really recommend checking them out.  This is something that burns in my heart – as children of God we are called to loose the bonds of those who are held captive.  Educate yourself and then take up the banner – become an abolitionist.

*and really, these are just a few of the newly blossomed organizations ready to fight human trafficking.  If I’ve left out anyone note-worthy, let me know and I’ll see about adding them!  Thanks!

Organizations

Beauty From Ashes

(Fort Myers, FL)
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: BeautyFrmAshes    

Cincinnati Union Bethel

Social service agency: early childhood education; the Anna Louise Inn (housing for women) and Off the Steets (services for prostituted women. (Cincinnati, OH) ***Not only for trafficked individuals, but they deal with it enough to be included***
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: cinunionbethel

DACS United

Designers Against Child Slavery
website  ·  facebook   ·  twitter: dacsunited

DNA Foundation

founded by Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher – to eliminate sex slavery worldwide. “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls”
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: dnafoundation

FAIR Fund

Preventing human trafficking of youth worldwide (Washington, DC)
website  ·  twitter: FAIRFund

Free Generation International

committed to eradicating human trafficking in Africa (Africa/US)
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: FreeGeneration

Forsaken Generation

leading a national movement to end youth homelessness and child sex trafficking in the US. (New York)
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: forsakengen

Hagar International

organization restoring exploited women and children’s lives in Cambodia, Vietnam & Afghanistan
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: HagarIntl

Hookers for Jesus

Destiny Houses are a SAFE haven for ladies in sex slavery (Las Vegas, NV)
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: hookersforjesus

International Justice Mission

Head Quarters (Washington, DC)
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: IJMHQ

Justice Campaigns
website  ·  twitter: IJMcampaigns

International Sanctuary

website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: isanctuary

Love 146

end child sex slavery and exploitation
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: OfficialLove146

Rob MorrisPresident and Co-founder
website  ·  twitter: ROBLOVE146

Adam Young of the Dayton Ohio Love 146 Taskforce
blog  ·  twitter: youngadamc

Made By Survivors

fights human trafficking and slavery with empowerment & education
website  ·  blogs  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: madebysurvivors

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Not only are they concerned with Cincy’s history in the fight against slavery, they are seeking to build up modern-day abolitionists (Cincinnati, OH)
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: FreedomCenter

Not For Sale

campaign for all justice seekers, united to fight human trafficking
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: Not_For_Sale

Polaris Project

a leading non-profit organization committed to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery. (Washington, DC) **They even have an office in Japan now!**
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: Polaris_Project

RedLight Children

website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: RedLightCC

Restavek Freedom

ending child slavery in Haiti
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: RestavekFreedom

She Shall Go Free

To break all these sufferings, all these fetters of slavery.
blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: sheshallgofree

Stop Child Trafficking

(New York, NY)
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: SCTNow

Stop Modern Slavery

Washington, DC
website  ·  blog  ·  twitter: DCSMS

Survivors Connect

website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: survivorconnect

Unbound Movement

A Modern Day Movement to end Modern day Slavery – in all it’s forms! (Cincinnati, OH)
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: unboundmovement

Vision Abolition

dedication to prevention, rescue, and restoration (Arizona)
website  ·  blog  ·  twitter: VisionAbolition

Shopping

*Made by Survivors, mentioned above

Night Light Bangkok

business as a mission offering employment to women formerly in the sex industry.
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: NightLightBKK

Nomi Network

leveraging the marketplace, fashion, and film to eradicate sexual slavery (New York)
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: nominetwork

Stop Traffick Fashion

a boutique about restoration and change for survivors of human trafficking. (Cincinnati, OH)
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: stoptrffckfash

Individuals

Amanda Kloer

writer on Change.org
twitter: endhumantraffic