It is estimated that over one million people will be in Phoenix for the Super Bowl. While those estimates will be accurate what will not be is the number of children and adults that will also be in Phoenix in the sex trafficking business. The local authorities have suggested numbers in the thousands but a true number is difficult to measure. Phoenix and the surrounding towns and cities have been working hard the past six months to provide awareness and training to help limit the activity and provide more harsh penalties to offenders arrested.
Sex trafficking is on the rise all across the country. The last ten years has seen a concerted effort to raise awareness of the issue in the public square. Trafficking is viewed with repulsion and in addition to raising awareness; millions of dollars have been collected to combat the evil. Non-profits like Red Light Rebellion here in Phoenix are popping up all over the country in coordinated efforts to slow down the trade.
Holding onto Hope Ministries has been working for seven years now to shine the light on the darkness of sexual abuse. The first incident of sexual abuse in trafficking damages that boy or girl, woman or man deeply for life. One encounter is all it takes to send them down the road of brokenness. The insidiousness of the industry is that the victims are never only abused one time. Hundreds of willing perpetrators will do damage to just one soul. Multiply that by millions of survivors mostly living in silence and you may get a sense for the magnitude of this plague.
I am encouraged by the level of awareness that trafficking is gaining across the country and around the world. I am equally discouraged, by the lack of resources and interest in what comes after. Slowing down trafficking is the objective and we must continue to sound the alarm and fight. What happens then? Where does the survivor turn? Who is there to begin the long walk with them through the hard task of recovery? Where is the incentive to establish safe environments that will do the really difficult work of healing?
We my friends must become what Andrew Pitts calls the “Mobile Church”. We must each embrace the relentless compassion of our Lord and begin the lifelong task of walking with a survivor. Fellow survivors are the best equipped. As Henri Nouwen so eloquently expresses in The Wounded Healer; “Compassion must become the core, and even the nature, of authority. Christian leaders are people of God only insofar as they are able to make the compassion of God with humanity—which is visible in Jesus Christ—credible in their own world.”
Healing from abuse is a difficult and messy journey. It requires a follower walking with a survivor maybe for life. It will take countless souls to walk with souls. The task is daunting indeed. Our Lord is calling us to just one. Each of us walks with just one. They are all around us. We are them. Healing begins in the arms of the Savior. We…are his arms.