Trafficking Across the Plains

Exactly one year ago, we sat with a group of potential missionary candidates in the basement of a beautiful home off Sunset Blvd in LA. It was a time of equipping, exploring, and encouraging each other. Our home church had sent us out for the training through Foursquare Missions International. We met some incredible people, those who were willing to lay aside everything, to follow God's call. It was truly inspiring. 

While we were there, we were asked to share about our vision for missions. Human trafficking, the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, was the overwhelming problem that weighed on our hearts. The fact that there are more slaves now than at any other time in human history, calls for action. We shared how God had put a burden on our heart for the men, women and children in Thailand, and specifically how we envisioned God redeeming their lives through prayer, the arts, and true community through family. Each time we refined and shared it, there was something that begged to be heard. At night we would lay in bed wrestling with what this Voice was saying to us. Somehow, although Thailand was so heavy on our hearts, there was a greater call, inviting us to look in our own backyard. Really, Kansas, God?! 

Kansas, and Wichita, Kansas specifically, has been identified as the 5th largest originating city. What this means is that pimps and traffickers come looking here, to lure boys and girls who are the average age of 12-14 years, making promises only to turn and sexually exploit them. Often, when we hear the word trafficking, we have pictures in our minds of internationals, bound and drug across borders. This is true. However, the misconception that we are exempt from this lucrative business is deceptive. When you place words like runaway, escort services, strip clubs, pornography, and the like, it brings it closer to home. Prostitutes are trafficked because trafficking includes force, fraud, or coercion. In a city where there are  drugs there is money and often the sale of sexual services so the demand can be satisfied. Some would argue that those who prostitute wants this, that somehow it is to satisfy her own "needs". But how much was this a "choice"? Where abuse and fraud have been all they have known, this "choice" may appear to be the best option in sight. Let's ask this, "What has led them to this point, to this decision?" The answer often less about "choice" and more often about "survival". Trafficking has never been simply an international issue. Today we need to look in our own backyards, our own streets and schools. Who may be at risk today?