Love Good - Reflections - 6-28-17

  Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate.  Amos 5:15a

  I am continuing to ruminate on our trip to the southwest. See the devotion from 6-7-17.

It was pretty easy to agree with and commit to the first part of our text for Wednesday from Amos. The topic was sex-trafficking. Our presenters were articulate, energetic, and passionate about the topic. At the end of the first portion of the presentation we were asked what we were feeling. Various emotions were named from sad to scared to shocked. My word was angry.

Hating evil: The average age of entry for a young person entering sex trafficking in the United States is 13 years old. This means that 9-year-olds, as well as 17-year-olds, are being forced into sex trafficking here in the US. Forget the stereotype of runaway, abused at home, street child. The message from the presenters is that no one is immune. Everyone has vulnerabilities of which traffickers can and do take advantage.

Yep. Angry.

Our speakers were from the Redlight Rebellion in Phoenix. I recommend spending some time at their website. They are young adults and youth who work to create awareness of the issue. Our little congregational group created photos for their social media campaigns. We spent some time in a shopping mall taking photos. We were told that we should not engage people about our project, but if they asked us, we could talk with them.

One young man asked, and we told him. He seemed surprised it was happening there in Phoenix. A mom, dad, and daughter also stopped us. That mom – of three pre-teen and teen-aged girls – asked lots of questions and took copies of all the literature we had. She was going to be sure her girls knew the danger.

Here are some things to know, besides the fact that it could happen to anyone. You might be able to rescue someone or prevent them from becoming a victim.

Red flags that someone may be a victim: 
(remember it could be anyone)
Older boyfriend/ “daddy” figure Tattoos/brands
New expensive items Changing vocabulary
Sudden change in behavior Fear/Anxiety/Depression
Separation from friends and family Signs of abuse
Acting out Running away
Multiple cell phones

Recruitment methods:
Posing as a professional (photographer, model recruiter, talent scout)
Posing as a boyfriend
Posing as a friend
Online/social media
Take away: These people are liars and manipulators. 

You can also share the National Trafficking Hotline. Post it in bathrooms. Or public bulletin boards. At rest areas and truck stops. They made it easy to memorize: 888-3737-888 or, more recognizably, (888) 373-7888.

Then there's that second part of the verse in Amos…. It is a longer-term thing. As it always does, justice requires a change in a larger cultural system. We need to talk about demand, pornography, expectations of male dominance, money for rehab, spending and investments, international treaties, etc., etc. etc.

The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) has a social message on Commercial Sexual Exploitation. You can read the description of a social message on their website and find the message there. 

The Women of the ELCA also have resource on the topic. 

I'm still angry. But there are things to do.


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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245