By: Ginny Howell, Ohio GA Consultant
In this world of sin and corruption, the prince of darkness tried to dismantle an Ohio team. There were many obstacles that happened from the time that we obeyed God to GO! In the last moments, 3 members of our team had to cancel; then satan tried to reroute some of the team that were flying. However, we learned quickly that our trip to New Orleans, Louisiana was definitely a “God thang”! On Saturday, June 26th there were 12 women who embarked on a journey that was a blessing to ALL! We traveled to NOLA to learn about Human Trafficking and to increase our awareness of this growing problem. Some Ohioans may think that this is fiction, we can hide our heads in the sand, we can deny that it’s happening here in Ohio – or we can research the truth. Let’s explore the facts and see what the truth is in Ohio.
First of all, to know the truth you have to look at the definition of Human Trafficking. Many believe that is it only women. A report in 2012 estimated that 25% of human trafficking involved men. Furthermore, 1 in 3 victims are boys and 27% of victims are children. Many believe that it doesn’t happen in our state. Ohio is particularly vulnerable because we have both a large transient and immigration population. In addition, we have both large urban centers and rural counties as well as 5 major highways with easy access to other states and Canada. Many believe that the traffickers are felons. Perpetrators of Human Trafficking span all racial, ethnic, and gender demographics and are as diverse as survivors. Many believe that it’s only sexual. Human Trafficking is a crime in which people profit from the control and exploitation of others. It is the illegal trade of human beings for the purpose of reproductive slavery, sexual exploitation, and forced labor in the workplace.
Secondly, since Human Trafficking is often a crime that is hidden in plain sight, it is important to be aware of the warning signs. Some indications are appearing malnourished, showing signs of physical injuries and abuse, avoiding eye contact. Additional observable behaviors include avoiding social interaction, authority figures, and law enforcement. In conversation, listen for a scripted or rehearsed response in social interactions. Lacking ID or official documents can also be an indication that the person is a victim. Appearing destitute and lacking personal possessions are also reasons to suspect. Among fellow employees, watch for working excessively long hours, living at the place of employment, and even children serving in a family business. Poor physical or dental health, tattoos or branding on neck or lower back may also be a caution sign. These warning signs are adapted from information provided by the Polaris Project and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. This isn’t the complete list as the perpetrators are constantly changing some things to avoid law enforcement.
Next, we need to look at the truth and pray about what God would have us do right here in Ohio! We are third in the top five states across the nation with the highest rate of human trafficking. It is time that we assist victims in getting help. We can learn about programs that are already in place in our area(s) and find out how to volunteer in those program. In New Orleans, the Ohio team learned that in order to build trust and relationships with victims, other types of support may be provided for individuals. At the Baptist Friendship House, New Orleans, Dr Kay Bennett and her team offer food, clothing, showers, group therapy and a craft groups so that they can develop trust through using tangible items. It is hard for victims to have trust in God when they don’t trust people they can see. By providing for their needs, the team is able to share truth, to tell all about Jesus! This “umbrella” of support draws in a diverse group of people with a variety of needs. While we were there, our team was able to participate in providing needs for the community. All 12 of us were blessed and amazed at the difference in a person’s appearance and the community was VERY appreciative. Would you pray for these ministries and Dr Kay’s team on Tuesdays when they supply these needs? At the present time, Dr Kay has 2 full time NAMB supported employees and 3 summer missionaries. Your Annie Armstrong dollars directly support Dr Kay and her team at Friendship House, PTL!
Lastly, we have LOTS more information that we would like to share with you! We are currently organizing a 2 by 2 coordinator who will supply teams of 2 women to inform your church of this growing ministry and help you to explore resources already set up in your area so that you can find your “umbrella”. If your church already has a food pantry, clothes closet, etc. you are already in position to become a part of rescuing victims in your area. During this training, we were able to witness a young lady being rescued by the Baptist Friendship House team and the blessing was ABUNDANT! We were able to provide lots of prayer support as Dr Kay’s team assisted in the rescue. If you would like to become more aware, allow us to help you with our 2 by 2 teams! This free resource will be available to you by contacting either the SCBO office, Missions Support and Mobilization Resource Team, or Ohio WMU President, Jean DiFilippo, firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t miss “Being the Mission” in your local community!