Transforming Hope Ministries works to educate folks in the Raleigh-Durham area about sex trafficking going on in our community, to prevent children from becoming victims, and to help restore families who have already been lured into sex work. I serve on the board of directors for THM. I will be posting a weekly devotion and prayer guide this year. I hope you will take time to read these and to pray.
Human trafficking is a big problem and is going on right here in RDU. There is a lot of work to do. So it might seem odd or a waste of time to pray. But prayer is always the first thing Christians do (or should do), not an after thought or a nice idea, but the most important part of getting stuff done. Stuff gets done when we pray. The basic Christian message is that salvation doesn’t depend on what we do but what God does. This is true for everything else too. We depend on God to act first, not just in salvation, but in everything. So our first response should be to pray.
The first thing we need to pray for is increased awareness. We are crossing paths with trafficking victims on a regular basis without even knowing it. The book How You Can Fight Human Trafficking explains that we can learn what to look for:
“The reason why people ask the question: ‘What does Human Trafficking look like’ is because even if Human Trafficking is happening right in front of them, they don’t ‘see’ it, because they don’t understand what they are looking at. The greatest weakness the Human Traffickers have is that what they do is very hard to hide if you know what to look for. That is why it is so important to educate people so they recognize what Trafficking ‘looks like.’”
Education is important but things that hide in plain sight do so because they can look rather normal. Often it is more a case of something not feeling right than overtly looking wrong. In other words, we need help to see what is right in front of us.
Fortunately, we pray to a God who pays special attention to those who are suffering. Like many trafficking victims, Hagar ran right into trouble after running away from home. Genesis 16 tells the story:
“The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?’
‘I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,’ she replied.
The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.’
And the angel also said, ‘You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress.’
Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, ‘You are the God who sees me.’ She also said, ‘Have I truly seen the One who sees me?’”
Yes, Hagar, you truly saw the One who sees you. God sees the plight of every trafficking victim and hears their cries of distress. God can help us see and hear too.
Here is a general prayer you can either recite or use as a basis for your own prayer:
“Lord, trafficking victims are suffering today. Hear their desperate cries as you heard Hagar. See them as you saw Hagar. Let them be able to say, as Hagar did, the Lord sees me. Trafficking is going on in my community, Lord. Open my eyes to see them as You see them. Make my ears sensitive to their cries. Nudge me and make me aware of this evil going on right in front of me. Give me the perception to see and the wisdom and courage to act.”
Here are a few tips for what to look for, for what to expect God to highlight for you:
A lot of people (especially well-dressed men and underdressed women) coming and going from a house, apartment (even in your neighborhood), hotel, or business front at odd hours (lunchtime, right after work, or late at night).
Strangers – even women – offering “modeling” jobs. This often happens at shopping malls.
Younger women or girls who appear malnourished, show signs of abuse, or seem overly subdued or submissive
Something that just doesn’t look or feel right. (I know that is vague and could lead to a fearful/paranoid state of mind. That’s one reason praying for help seeing and hearing is so important. The Holy Spirit will guide you.)
You can also find more comprehensive lists of warning signs at these websites:
Please also take time to pray for THM. Specifically, ask the Lord to bless The Hope Effect (our fundraising campaign), to provide us with an office space, for sponsors for the Father/Daughter Night, and to open doors for our prevention workshop.