The battle continues. One day at a time. One person at a time. With a dual focus on rescue and rehabilitation, Southern Baptists are addressing human trafficking in the U.S. and around the world.
The issue is one of seven focus areas for Send Relief, a worldwide Southern Baptist compassion ministry collaboration between the International and North American mission boards.
Send Relief centers in New Orleans and Las Vegas minister directly to trafficking victims.
When meeting someone who has been rescued, volunteers take backpacks with a Bible, hygiene items, snacks, socks, clothing, a blanket and other items, said Kay Bennett, executive director of the Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans.
Providing victims with those things “shows concern and builds trust,” she said, which encourages victims to share their stories and often provides opportunities for believers to share the gospel.
The centers also provide or help find housing for at-risk women and children and assist victims with treatment programs or by providing transportation to find care closer to their home community.
Internationally, Send Relief seeks to minister directly to those rescued from human trafficking. An employment center in the Asia Rim, through Send Relief, celebrated 10 graduates last year — women who left the sex trade and were equipped to earn a sustainable income.
Send Relief also seeks to mobilize the local church to serve alongside missionaries ministering to human trafficking victims as well as to develop their own local ministries to victims or those at risk of being trafficked. Send Relief (sendrelief.org) provides several resources related to human trafficking.
Although the numbers of those involved in and rescued from human trafficking are daunting, Bennett encourages a “one-at-a-time” approach.
“We have the mindset of helping others one at a time; otherwise we can get overwhelmed with the stories and statistics of those in need. You can join the fight … and help others find … a new beginning, one life at a time,” Bennett said.
Victories in the human trafficking battle also are won through WMU Compassion Ministries.
Christian Women’s Job Corps and Christian Men’s Job Corps help free women and men from trafficking in the U.S. and globally by providing job training and education in a Christian context.
WorldCrafts provides artisans a living wage so poverty does not force them into bonded labor or sexual exploitation.
The WorldCrafts Support Freedom Campaign (worldcrafts.org/support-freedom-campaign) highlights WorldCrafts artisan groups working to free individuals involved in or at risk of human exploitation.
WMU also offers other resources at wmu.com.
The WMU Foundation offers the Judith and David Hayes Endowment to Combat Human Trafficking, which supports ministries to victims.
A Hayes Endowment grant was recently sent to the Baptist Friendship House.
Find out more about the grant at wmufoundation.com.