STOPPING THE HUMAN TRAFFICKING PROBLEM HERE IN THE OZARKS
I was hungry and you fed me.
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink.
I was homeless and you gave me a room.
I was shivering and you gave me clothes.
I was sick and you stopped to visit.
I was in prison and you came to me
Then those sheep are going to say, Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you? Then the King will say, I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me, you did it to me." Matthew 25:34-40
End Slavery Now says says of Human Trafficking, "There are an estimated 20.9 Million people trapped in some form of slavery today. It’s sometimes called “Modern-Day Slavery” and sometimes “Human Trafficking." At all times it is slavery at its core." While some of this slavery might constitute forced labor, household servitude, forced marriages, etc, etc, etc, much of it (probably the biggest majority) has to do with the sex industry. The same site goes on to say that, "In the United States, any minor under the age of 18 engaged in commercial sex acts is automatically considered a victim of sex trafficking under the law. Worldwide, it's estimated that there are 4.5 million victims of sex trafficking." Which begs the question of how bad the problem is here in the US?
Although official Justice Department statistics say that 17,500 women / girls are sexually trafficked into the US each year, they readily admit that the problem is probably larger than anyone could even guess. Approximately half of these being trafficked are under the age of 18, while over 80% of the confirmed victims are American citizens. Needless to say, the problem is massive. But because Sex Trafficking is largely a 'hidden' crime, few of us ever have it cross our minds. And even fewer still realize that it's going on right here under our noses. CASEY ALVAREZ spoke to members of our church recently, revealing that the problem is here and is far bigger than any of us would have thought possible.
Sexual Trafficking is able to remain hidden because victims are intimidated by fear --- fear of physical violence, fear someone will hurt their children or families, fear of being abandoned and thrown out on the street, fear of law enforcement, etc, etc. Furthermore, because these women are often brought to the US from other countries, the language barrier makes it that much more difficult for those being trafficked to leave. But thanks to the grace of God, ministries like Casey's are making a difference. Fortunately there are others following suit as well. Enter Steve and Teresa Dunlap.
I first met Steve, a retired school administrator and pastor, several years ago when he came in to have a shoulder problem fixed (HERE). I later heard that as the result of a number of mission trips to Mexico, he and Teresa were burdened for trafficked women and girls, and talking about creating a ministry to help them. The cool thing about the Dunlaps is that unlike most of us, they actually did something about it. They founded ON TIME MINISTRY, and then remodeled a donated 5,500 square foot home to house women coming out of Trafficking, calling the facility CEDAR MOUNTAIN. They are currently finishing up a second location in Houston (MO) that is scheduled to begin housing women in a month.
I would suggest that you --- as individual families or through your church --- step up to the plate and find a similar ministry to partner with in your area. If you are one of my local readers, there's no place like home. Contact Steve and Teresa today and see if there is anything you can do, or any way to help out. Because running a home that houses half a dozen or so women entails paying monthly bills, giving money is always a great option. I am putting a check in the mail today, and would ask you to do the same.
Jesus came to take care of the widow, the orphan, the sick, the lonely, the heartbroken, and the downtrodden. I'm not sure if there is a more heartbroken, lonely, and downtrodden group than those being trafficked. I have had the opportunity to meet a number of these young ladies, and all I can say is that On Time Ministry is doing exactly what it was intended to do. May God continue to bless the Dunlap's work! Steve, Teresa, Amy, and the rest, we love you guys! Keep fighting the good fight.