This past Sunday I preached on a short passage in the book of Genesis. It was a passage that a number of people told me they didn’t even know was in the Bible while others said they’ve read a number of times without quite realizing what was happening. The passage was Genesis 12:10-20. Here the new protagonist of the book, Abram, does the unthinkable. He pimps out his wife. He cowardly and selfishly sells his wife to a foreign, idol-worshiping king (Pharaoh in fact) in order to save his own skin.
This inevitably led to a portion of the sermon being about sex-trafficking (Abram’s sin), it’s victims, and the reality of it in our city. This is not just something that only happened in ancient times or today in developing countries.
• In 2003, Minneapolis, Minnesota was identified by the FBI as one of 13 cities with a large concentration of child prostitution enterprises.
• By very conservative measures, a November 2010 study found that each month in Minnesota at least 213 underage girls are sold for sex an average of five times per day through the Internet and escort services. This number does not include hotel, street or gang activity.
This issue is a reality here in our city.
And like Sarai (Abram’s trafficked wife), many of these women and children are victims. Victims who’ve been abused and used by others. Victims who feel as though they have no other options, resources, or hope. Victims who would get out if they could.
Many of them come from abusive homes/relationships and are homeless, runaways, or in foster care. The common age for victims entering trafficking is 14-16. They’re often kidnapped or lured with promises of protection, love, home, opportunity, and adventure. And once in, threats of violence, abuse, or being turned into the cops keeps escape from being an option. Also substance addictions, a need to provide for their kids, and a lack of resources and opportunities makes them feel like they have no other option but to stay in the sex industry.
Sex trafficking (as well as things like prostitution, porn, one night stands, etc.) dehumanizes people, turns them into objects and a means to an end, rather than someone made in the image of God and so loved by him that he’d die for them!
Sex trafficking is the antithesis of the gospel. It says I can use and abuse someone at their expense and see them as less than human, because I am better, more important, or more powerful than my victim.
Whereas the gospel says Jesus chose to empty himself, to give up his power and importance, to be used in our place, in order to give us life and full humanity. Jesus was abused and taken advantage of (like Sarai) and all for our sake.
Throughout the Bible, God calls his people to protect the vulnerable, to show mercy and kindness, and to fight against evil and injustice because he has first done that for them. We were once imprisoned to death, powerless to gain our freedom, and oppressed by our sin but God rescued us, saved us, and restored us. And that is why his people are called to reflect him and his gospel.
So there is hope. Hope for victims and perpetrators alike. Through the gospel both the Sarais and Abrams of the world are offered (both physical and spiritual) rescue, redemption, forgiveness, and new life. Not only that but through the gospel they are offered a place where they are wanted, have security, receive a new identity, and belong to a spiritual family (the church).
On a large scale, there are great local and international organizations (many faith-based) that are helping rescue victims in a holistic way. If you want to learn more, hear victims’ stories, or begin to help, here are some resources (note that some of the content will be mature due to the nature of sex trafficking).
- Tapestry Pregnancy and Family Resource Center We as a church often partner with Tapestry. They're are a fantastic faith-based organization that holistically serves women and children here in our city who feel they have no help, no resources, and no hope.
- Breaking Free
- Source Minnesota
- How Porn Leads to Sex-Trafficking and How the Gospel is the Solution (video) If you just check out one resource, this would be the one I'd recommend.
- Hope Community Church's Recent Seminar on Sex Trafficking in our City (youtube videos)
- Rape for Profit (film) Documentary that focuses on sex trafficking of underage youth in Seattle.
- 9 Things You Should Know About Pimps and Sex Traffickers (article)
- 9 Things You Need to Know About Backpage.com and Sex Trafficking (article)
- Why Legalized Prostitution Increases Sex Trafficking (article)
- Porn: Human Trafficking at Your Finger Tips (video) Shows the link between pornography and sex trafficking.
- The White Umbrella: Walking with Survivors of Sex Trafficking. (book by Mary Frances Bowley)
- http://justinholcomb.com/category/culture/human-trafficking/ (website)
- http://www.refugeforwomen.org (website) Organization that provides aftercare for the trafficked and sexually exploited
SPENCER PETERSON / COMMUNITY LIFE PASTOR