Did you know?

In the midst of one of America’s biggest and craziest events of the year, the largest single sex-trafficking event is taking place. Every year the Super Bowl sadly brings along with it a dark side of pleasure for profit. As people are cheering for their team and enjoying the food, shows, music, games and activities, young girls and women are being bought and sold behind the scenes. It is heartbreaking, but here in Indy it is also being fought against. Can you be proud of your city? I don’t know, but I am proud of the way the people of Indy have stepped up to the plate on this one. The city lawmakers knew it was coming, and they have taken measures to prevent it. Other groups, as well, have joined the fight in ending this awful practice that goes on unnoticed by the general population every year.

I read this great article the other day that shares some of the ways that Indianapolis and groups of people are standing together to provide a way out for trapped women. As we enjoy the game and events this weekend, my heart has been burdened to pray for this whole situation to be shut down. Will you join me this weekend in praying for these women and those who are selling them? Pray that the light of Christ would shine forth, that the women and girls will be rescued and helped, that the men in control will be caught and stopped.

Close to Home

The Lord continues to bring up the issue of sex trafficking and human slavery in my life and in the news, even though my dress campaign is over. Here are a couple recent examples:

1. LAST WEEK Indianapolis Police broke up a multi-state international sex-trafficking ring run by three brothers in northwest Indy that has been operating in Indianapolis and other nearby cities for 10 years. During the raid 19 men were arrested who were actively involved in the trade. The news report said that the men advertised using business cards that “look” like they are for auto repair services and western wear, that each “service” cost $40-50, and the women were forced to do this in order to “work off the cost of smuggling them into the country”. 

2. At my aforementioned patch making party, my friend Sara brought her new roommate Whitney, who just started a job at The Center for Global Impact. Her specific job is to promote and advertise the products of ByTavi, purses, bags and scarves made by women in Phnom Phen Cambodia who have either been rescued out of sex slavery or who are headed in that direction because it is literally their only chance at survival. These are women who have no other opportunity for work, and through this organization they are given skills to sew. 100% of the proceeds from the bags go back to the women or into the program to keep it going, allowing them to rescue more women and provide more jobs. The products are affordable, stylish and beautiful, and like the postcard below says, do so much more than just making a fashion statement! Click on the link above or check out bytavi.com for more info!

3. At the same party, we were also talking about the rising prevalence of sex trafficking in the US, and the sneaky ways people advertise their ‘business’. The biggest opportunities for this occur during major sporting events like the World Cup, Super Bowl, etc….anything that brings in large crowds of people.  Many traffickers use billboards and business cards that look innocent on the surface, just like the men in the news story above – advertising houses, clothing, cars, valet services and more. You just have to know what you are looking for to get to the truth.

Postcard for byTavi designs!

Quick Numbers

Fun numbers for this week:

6: days until mom and dad arrive

7: days until my eye surgery

24: double chocolate fudge cupcakes made for tonight’s patch making party

10: patches made and decorated by my dear friends (pictures later today!)

6: hours spent hanging out with friends decorating said patches

5: books on my currently-reading list

1: sex trafficking ring broken up here in Indy this week

7: months until I can hug Matt

28: days I will be wearing a patch after surgery

152: people who receive my prayer letter via email

4: new people joining my small group!

The End

Tonight I took off the little brown dress for the last time of the One Dress Campaign. This month literally flew by, and it is hard to believe it is already over! I am in New York City visiting with some of my Berlin STINT teammates for the weekend, and they asked me today what I have learned that I am taking away from this experience. It was delightful getting to process with these women I love what this month has been like and the things I have learned, and it mostly boiled down to two main thoughts.

One, and this one is pretty superficial, is that we are mostly concerned with ourselves and our own appearance more than we are with others. I wore the same dress for 30 days straight, and only one person clued in and asked me about it. One. With everyone else I either ended up telling them about the campaign, or they just never realized that I was wearing the same clothes every day. (or there may have been some who noticed but didn’t ask me about it!) It made me see that I care so much about my own appearance, but it really doesn’t matter. It made me realize how little we pay attention to those around us, and really how unimportant our wardrobe is in the grand scheme of things.

Two, although I am just one person, there is a fight going on and I can be involved in it. The facts about sex trafficking are staggering and can sometimes be overwhelming, but there are still ways to help. Prayer is a huge one. My times spent praying for these women and girls who are involved have been so sweet, and I have seen the Lord grow my heart for them and deepen my desire to love and serve them however I can. My understanding of the power of prayer is so limited, but I have learned that the more I pray the more strongly my heart is aligned with God and His will. Mind-bogglingly awesome. Being an advocate and spokesperson for these girls who do not have a voice is another way I can be a part of fighting against sex slavery. Becoming more aware of my surroundings and pursuing those who are lost and hurting, seeking to listen and love them as Christ does is something else I want to grow in.

Finally, the end of my One Dress Campaign does not mean the end of learning about this. I want to keep praying, reading, and being as involved in the fight as I can. Hopefully I can continue to be an advocate and continue learning new ways to love and serve both the slaves and those who have been rescued. Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

Good News on Trafficking

I was just reading back through some of my previous entries, and realized that the last time I wrote about the campaign I was one week in….and now I only have one week left! I mentioned in that post how time was flying, but I had no idea just how fast. The past couple of weeks have been super busy with conferences, and I haven’t felt as engaged in the dress campaign as I would have liked to have been. But, this week will (hopefully) be much calmer and will allow for more learning, sharing and finding out how I can be involved in the fight.

In the midst of the sad and often horrific stories of human trafficking around the world, I have also found a few kernels of hope. There are hundreds of men and women around the world who are actively engaged in the fight to end slavery and in the rescuing of those who are being sold for sex.

1. International Justice Mission: although they literally work worldwide, I want to highlight one story I read yesterday. They have a project going on in the Philippines called Project Lantern, and in the last 3 years IJM and the Philippine police have worked together to rescue 259 women out of sex slavery. In addition, they have seen a 79% decrease in the availability of minors for sex. To read the entire article, click here.

2. Rati, a young Indian girl left at a train station by her parents and taken by a trafficker, was rescued in September 2010 by IJM staff in Mumbai. You can read the full story of her bravery and refusal to give up hope here

3. My friend Tasha wrote a fabulous blog post on this topic a few weeks ago that included a link to a group called Rapha House. They are a group that establishes safe houses for women in southeast asia who have been rescued from sex slavery, giving them an education and trade skills. On their website they share a prayer list – specific things to pray for each day of the week. This is a great start to getting involved, and is one thing I want to incorporate into my prayer life as a result of this month. To read more about what Rapha House does, visit their website.