Have you ever sat in a room where you instantly felt like you crashed a grown-up party, no matter how old you are? I felt that way this week. Monday and Tuesday I had the honor and privilege to attend the World Summit to End Sexual Exploitation held at the Carter Center.
There were 31 states and 11 countries represented at this Summit. Some of the early pioneers in this fight, like Linda Smith of Shared Hope International, Rachel Lloyd of GEMS, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, and Melissa Farley, a world researcher in this fight, attended, not to mention President Jimmy Carter, sitting at the helm of the Summit. The wealth of knowledge and experience in the room was impressive and overwhelming.
As I sat and listened to those who had gone before me in this fight, I was blown away by their journeys. Researchers, law enforcement, ambassadors and politicians, survivors, NGO founders, and people from the corporate sector all who have found a way to fight this atrocity in their sphere of influence.
While some are just learning about the issue of sex trafficking, many of those present at the conference have been fighting it for over thirty years.
I listened, took notes, made connections, and took in more information than my pea brain could contain.
It was like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hydrant.
What can I do? How can I, one person, make an impact? Have you asked that question of yourself? Do you feel in inadequate for the fight?
Quite simply, by recognizing and acknowledging that all people have worth because they exist is the place we all should start. As Rachel Lloyd put it,
You don’t need to go out to the track and rescue girls to make a difference. In fact, don’t.”
We don’t have to go out looking for places to serve or people to sow into to have an impact. Look around you. Where do you see hurting people? Vulnerable people? Those who have tangible needs? That’s where you start.
Traffickers lure women and children into this evil most often by leveraging a need they recognize. What if we beat them to it? What if we, you, me and everyone else in the world, started reaching out and meeting needs where we saw them as much as it was within our power to do so. How would that impact this fight? How would it change our world? We should all:
- Be kind [Ephesians 4:32].
- Share what you have. Don’t let anyone go hungry as long as it’s within your power to do something about it [Matthew 23:25].
- Acknowledge others people may overlook [Mark 5:34].
Basically, be the church. I don’t mean attend meetings and host potluck dinners. I mean be the church Christ intended us to be. Jesus summed it up in John 13:34,
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
While I met some of the forerunners in this fight over the past two days, I came away with one sure message:
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