th (3)Have you ever lost something only to find it right in front of you? Yesterday, I was trying to grab too many things at once: the dry cleaning, the letters for the mailbox, my cellphone, my iPad for my meeting, my purse and my car keys. I’m all about multitasking, but this was just more than my hands could hold.

I didn’t realize something was missing until I got in the car and down the driveway to put the letters in the mailbox. I was missing two. After a frantic search of the car, I went back in the house- thus being late for my meeting- to search for the missing letters. I looked everywhere, twice, and still didn’t find them. I had to leave and hope I’d return home before the mailman came to retrieve the mail. Fortunately, I did and I found the letters in a room I searched three times, in a place I looked twice.  Sometimes we simply miss things that are right before our eyes.

That happens when it comes to sex trafficking.  In fact, it is called the crime hidden in plain sight. It takes place in every state in the union and it is not a respecter of persons.

This past Friday night, I was in Birmingham, Alabama for Freedom Night Birmingham. It was an awareness event hosted in downtown Birmingham at Railroad Park. I was blown away by the turnout for an event that was only an idea three months before. There must have been close to eight hundred people there.

As we were setting up, the Birmingham police were blocking roads and directing traffic.  I took the opportunity to talk with one of the officers and ask him about the training the Birmingham PD provided for it’s officers on the issue. The discussion went something like this:

Excuse me. I’m an exhibitor with the event in the park and wanted to thank you for helping us. Can I ask you a question?”


What type of training does the Birmingham PD offer you on human trafficking?”

BLANK STARE followed by: You mean traffic? (notice no “k”)

No, not traffic, I’m referring to human trafficking, sex trafficking specifically.”


You know, child sex slavery, CSEC. I’m from Atlanta and I always like to learn what other cities are doing for their departments to equip officers, teach them the indicators so they will more easily recognize a victim when they see one.” [You can find indicators here.]

Oh, we’ve got whatever you’ve got in Atlanta. We’ve got it all right here. Same training.”

At that I walked away not feeling too good about the work the Birmingham PD is doing in the area of sex trafficking. Then this morning I come across this article about a raid on a brothel in Birmingham. The officer quoted in the article said,

It’s hard to believe that modern day slavery is happening in the West Midlands, but sadly it’s on the increase and we’re determined to put a stop to it. Tonight’s action, first and foremost, is about protecting people who more often than not don’t even realize that they are victims. But we’re also sending out a strong message to the traffickers that they’re not going to get away with using our area as a place to commit this appalling abuse.”

Needless to say, the officer I talked with at the event Friday night was just one uninformed individual. He was not representative of the entire Birmingham Police Department. The Department is very busy doing good work on the sex trafficking front.

While it is important to educate ourselves, we will usually do ourselves and others an injustice when we make a judgment of many based on the response of a few. It’s human nature to judge and/or criticize others when we perceive they are not measuring up to our standards; however, Scripture is very clear that our judging eyes need to be focused on ourselves rather than others.

Matthew 7:1-5 says,

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Obviously, this message is first and foremost for me, as most of the things I write seem to be. I needed a reminder to focus my judgment on myself and give others the benefit of the doubt. How about you?