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You Are Worth Something


“You’re worth something,” sounds like a statement a motivational speaker would make at a self-help seminar. But instead, these are the words of a young woman referred to as “Tonya” (not her real name), made after government officials rescued her following months of her being sexually trafficked as a teenager. Tonya’s complete interview is on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website, at https://www.ice.gov/features/human-trafficking-victim-shares-story. (1)


“Tonya spent night after night in different hotel rooms, with different men, all at the command of someone she once trusted. She was held against her will, beaten, and made to feel like she had no other option at the time, all by the man she thought she loved. She felt she deserved it. Tonya felt she couldn’t escape. Afraid and confused, she thought the emotional and physical abuse she endured was her own doing.”(2)


After her rescue, Tonya shared with her rescuers, “…emotionally, it took a toll on me. I didn’t feel… I didn’t feel  like I was a person. I felt really bad. There were nights I couldn’t sleep. There were times I thought about killing myself. I just thought about … the type of person I was.   What would people think about me if they knew what I was doing? What my mom would say? Just stuff like that.” (3)


“Most people do not understand the volume of trafficking that is going on in America, in our own backyard,” explained one experienced law enforcement officer in the PBS Frontline documentary film entitled, “Sex Trafficking in America.” (4) This film reports on the unimaginable stories of young women coerced into prostitution – and follows one police unit that is committed to rooting out sexual exploitation. According to one official who deals with these “unimaginable stories,” the  “recruitment is happening online, and on apps, and on social media, where all the kids are…” (5)


The evil inherent in “the volume of trafficking that is going on in America” can certainly seem overwhelming to an ordinary person of faith. The problem is so big! But as statesman Edmund Burke wrote during the 1700’s, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  Fortunately, today there are many good men and women who are doing a great deal to combat the evils of sexual trafficking in America and other parts of the world. A simple Internet search for information about the various responses by these people of faith produces a list of organizations dedicated to those efforts.


In one article entitled “A Christian’s Fight Against Human Trafficking,” the staff writers for one such organization advocate, “[t]he proliferation of modern-day slavery and the sexual exploitation of people is not just a social justice issue for governments, NGOs, or concerned citizens to address, it is an affront to the Gospel and should be on the heart and mind of every Christian … Psalm 82:3-4 reminds us, ‘Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.’ (NLT)… As Christians, we must always remember that human trafficking is a Gospel issue, and our response must be Gospel-centered…”(6)


A more comprehensive approach suggested by others is detailed in a 2022 handbook entitled “Ending Human Trafficking: A Handbook of Strategies for the Church Today.” (7) This handbook focuses on six suggested principles to be used by people of faith in fighting all types of human trafficking. The principles are Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Partnership, Policy, and Prayer. An article entitled “Anti-Trafficking Educator,“ which lists these six principles, is featured prominently on the website of a major Christian denomination. (8)


A similar article on the same denomination’s website describes another resource labeled, “Faith-Based and Community Tool Kit.” This tool kit recognizes that "church leaders need to be equipped with resources because they are trusted messengers …, and most importantly, congregational influencers.” (9)


The above examples of the efforts by some within the faith community to combat the evils of sexual trafficking are representative only. There are many more such organizations and individuals that have stepped forward to combat these evils. Some do so by funding and supporting rescue efforts. Others create, maintain, or simply support safe, supportive housing alternatives for the  victims of trafficking. Others use their business acumen to create economic opportunities  for  victims, or potential victims, of trafficking. The unsung heroes in this battle are the nameless and faceless members of church prayer groups who selflessly intercede for missing children, or those that sponsor and support afterschool programs for children who are at risk of falling victim to predators. The point is this: no one person can do everything, but each person can do something. People of faith have a role in this battle, a role that only they can fulfill.


After enduring the unspeakable horrors she experienced, and after being mercifully rescued, the young woman referred to as Tonya earlier in this article, after she was well along her own road to recovery, shared these words of hope for others like her:  “You’re worth something. You’re very important to someone … no matter what he says, it’s not true. You’re worth something.”(10)


People of faith are also worth something. No matter what the evil in this world tries to say, “it is not true.”  No one person can do everything, but each can do something. (11)



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1.   U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE) website, (Updated 10/5/2021). Human trafficking victim shares story,” https://www.ice.gov/features/human-trafficking-victim-shares-story. Accessed July 1, 2024.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Neumann, J. & Mucciolo, L.  (Producers), (2019) “Sex Trafficking in America,” PBS Frontline Documentary, PBS.org, Season 2019, Episode 15, aired 05/28/19;  https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/documentary/sex-trafficking-in-america/. Accessed July 2, 2024.

5. “Sex Trafficking in America Trailer,” (2019) PBS.org, See https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/documentary/sex-trafficking-in-america/#:~:text=Sex%20Trafficking%20in%20America%C2%A0tells%20the%20unimaginable%20stories%20of%20young%20women%20coerced%20into%20prostitution%20%E2%80%93%20and%20follows%20one%20police%20unit%20that%E2%80%99s%20committed%20to%20rooting%20out%20sexual%20exploitation. Accessed July 2, 2024.

6. Justice and Mercy International, (January 20, 2020), “A Christian’s Fight against Human Trafficking”, https://justiceandmercy.org/a-christians-fight-against-human-trafficking/, Accessed July 2, 2024.

7.  Moore, S., Morgan, S., McOwen Yim, K. (2022), Ending Human Trafficking: A Handbook of Strategies for the Church Today., IVP Academic, https://www.ivpress.com/Media/Default/Downloads/Excerpts-and-Samples/4187-excerpt.pdf. Accessed July 2, 2024.

8. Kennedy, J. (January 20, 2022), “Anti-Trafficking Educator,” AG News, https://news.ag.org/en/articles/news/2022/01/anti%20trafficking%20educator. Accessed July 2, 2024.

9. Morgan, S., (January 11, 2022), “Human Trafficking Prevention,” AG News, https://news.ag.org/en/article-repository/news/2022/01/human-trafficking-prevention. Accessed July 2, 2024.

10. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE) website, (Updated 10/5/2021). Human trafficking victim shares story,” https://www.ice.gov/features/human-trafficking-victim-shares-story. Accessed July 1, 2024.

11. Paraphrase of a quote often attributed to statesman-minister Everett Edward Hale, but also  attributed by others to evangelist D. L. Moody.

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