Every Voice Matters
By Cindy Powell
The stories are startling, yet repeat themselves often:
- A lonely young girl begins chatting with a cute boy online. One day, he convinces her to meet up and run away with him. When she arrives, she is met, not by a cute young boy, but by a shrewd trafficker. She is taken by force and sold to the highest bidder.
- A beautiful young woman is enticed by an advertisement to model. She meets with the agency’s representatives who agree she is perfect for a shoot they are doing overseas. Before she knows it, she is on a plane heading out of the country for her first modeling gig. But when she arrives at her hotel, she is drugged. When she comes to, her money, passport, and all identification are missing. The “agency” rep informs her she now belongs to him. He has pictures and information about her family at home and tells her he will kill them if she doesn’t do exactly as he says.
- A child is removed from a horribly abusive home environment and placed with a foster family. But the situation goes from bad to worse when the foster family not only sexually abuses the child themselves but films “friends” doing the same in order to profit off the images.
I wish these stories were unique. I wish they only happened in far off places. But they happen here in the U.S. They happen in my city. They happen in yours.
And we can’t be silent.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end when we become silent about the things that matter.” Human trafficking—modern-day slavery—is definitely a thing that matters.
According to the most conservative estimates, there are over 20 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. Many credible sources put the number closer to 40 million. Millions of these are children, either victims of forced labor, or trapped in the sex-trade. There are hundreds of thousands of victims right here in the U.S.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. In the mid-1800’s slavery was legally abolished in the U.S. when people finally refused to remain silent. We can abolish this new form of slavery too—both here and around the world—if once again we refuse to remain silent. Together we can make a difference. Together we can speak out. Together we must speak out. Because in this battle, every voice matters.
I first became significantly aware of the issue of human trafficking in 2005. I took a trip with my church to Cambodia and Thailand. We were working with some of the most vulnerable children, from some of the poorest areas. My heart was moved and stirred but I didn’t really know what to do with it all. However, my awareness and involvement grew over the next decade—including becoming aware of the magnitude of the problem here at home—as God continued to order my steps.
I am currently the editor of Voices of Justice, a digital magazine specifically designed to empower, inspire, and release voices in the fight against human trafficking. One of our taglines is “Every voice matters in the fight against human trafficking. We want to help you find yours.” It’s a catchy phrase, right? But my prayer is that it will be so much more. We can have a zillion great catchphrases and memes. We can recite a boatload of statistics and facts. Those all have a place, but unless the heart is moved to action they are ultimately meaningless.
That is what I love about our magazine. We tell stories. We feature real people—people just like you and me—from all over the world and from all walks of life. People who are doing what they can, with what they have. We’ve run articles from huge organizations, and we’ve run articles from high school students. We talk about what can be done, not what can’t be done, with the hope and prayer that it will inspire others.
With a subject as dark as human trafficking, it’s hard to take it all in. I find that people are sometimes paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of the problem.
With a subject as dark as human trafficking, it’s hard to take it all in. I find that people are sometimes paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of the problem. They turn away not because they don’t care but because they don’t know how to help in meaningful ways. We want to change that. We want to make ignorance hard and finding your voice easy.
There is a lot of darkness surrounding this issue, but darkness never gets the last word. As followers of Jesus—the Light of the World—we can shine light into the darkness. Start by simply allowing your eyes to be opened and by asking the Lord what He would have you do. You can also check out our website, as well as current and past issues of our magazine, and follow us on social media (links below). Through these resources, we provide ongoing education and a multitude of ideas and opportunities to get involved—in both small and large ways.
Until every captive is set free, every voice matters. Who knows, if God tug