Tackling the Sex Trade: Live from Catalyst
Fighting the third largest black market.

Friday morning's opening session began with a powerful music video that told the story of a thirteen-year-old girl from the Philippines named Constance. The video was based on a true story and told how Constance was sold by her father into sex slavery for $9. The man who bought her used her as a star on his website. I didn't catch all the lyrics, but the video sent a powerful message about the pervasive effects of sex trafficking - a man paying the subscription fee for a porn site in his suburban home may be propagating the sale and purchase of human beings for sex.

Following the video was a short panel discussion with three women who are on the front lines of the war against the sex trade. Jeannie Mai is a television host who recently spent two weeks ministering in the red light district of Bangkok, Thailand. She was joined by Naomi Zacharias (daughter of Ravi Zacharias) of Wellspring International and Bethany Hoang from International Justice Mission.

Bethany presented some staggering information. Sex trafficking currently enslaves 27 million people, more than were affected by the trans-Atlantic enslavement of Africans through the 19th century. That makes human trafficking the third largest black market today, after guns and drugs. In light of these overwhelming numbers, Bethany insisted that we must lead with hope. We have to believe that "the church truly is the answer to this problem, that the body of Christ can bring down this whole operation."

So what can we do? Jeannie encouraged us to pray. "Passionately pray and God begins to open doors to opportunities you didn't know existed in your area." Bethany reinforced the message that small efforts can make a huge difference. She told the story of a church of about 80 members that had been saving money to build their first facility. Then they heard that a huge need in the Philippines was for aftercare facility for women coming out of sex trafficking. In response, they decided they didn't need a building and gave their whole building fund to finance the after care facility. A church of any size can make an enormous difference, if it's willing to get involved.

Naomi Zacharias made what I thought was perhaps the most poignant observation. "Sexuality is something the church is still really intimidated by," she said, "so talking about sex trafficking is very uncomfortable." On the one hand, we don't really know how to respond to people involved in the sex trade. One prostitute in Mumbai asked Naomi, "If I walked into your church, would they see me as a woman or would they see me as a prostitute?" Naomi hesitated, and the woman added, "They want me to leave, but they never want to let me forget what I was."

April 25, 2009

Displaying 1–7 of 7 comments


March 29, 2010  9:31pm

I am in the beginning phases of producing a documentary film on the link between porn and sex trafficking. If anyone wants to roll up their sleeves and pick a fight with evil, let me know. I need all the help I can get.

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Jeannie Mai

June 07, 2009  3:14am

Thank you, thank you for spreading this seed of knowledge. This link here http://www.nightlightbangkok.com/ allows you to physically provide jobs for the women and children of the trade industry to leave their former line of work. Please support, and continue to pray. Major blessings to you! Jeannie

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Stevey Shaw

May 16, 2009  11:29am

Thank you for discussing this huge worldwide issue. I know you are correct in saying that abolition of the slave trade is ramping up. The evangelical church, for the most part, is trying to avoid the topic because it's messy and would require open repentance. Without open repentance on the part of Jesus followers there will be no change in the church. The following website offers tools for use by churches in raising awareness of the impact on porn on our culture...please take time to look at it. The DVD is masterfully filmed and orchestrated. www.musicforthesoul.org Stevey

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Joby Harris

May 11, 2009  9:44pm

http://www.nightlightbangkok.com/ Buy their jewelry! It's a realistic and tangible way for people to help!

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Francis Daytec

May 09, 2009  5:25am

For seven years I served in a medical clinic within a red light district in a popular island in the Philippines. Many tragic stories, such as of a young girl found dead in a resort hotel with a beer bottle shoved into her private parts, never left the island to reach CNN or Fox News. I have known other stories where prostitutes were helped by local churches to go home to their home provinces, however, the girls end up being unwanted by their families and find themselves back in the sex trade. My fiancee and I are interested in setting up an after care facility for women coming out of sex trafficking in the island. We would like to get in touch and work with people equipped in establishing such a facility.

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May 04, 2009  11:35pm

What if the (small but) growing tide of those seeking freedom from sexual addictions through Christian support groups put hands and feet to their repentance by corporately giving to IJM – or even by holding silent streetside demonstrations to raise awareness of these issues? Surely that must be a fuller expression of repentance and freedom than just living sober ... Thoughts / responses?

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April 26, 2009  8:57am

This is a hugely important issue - and it's very present in the US too. Slavery is a backyard reality - not just through internet streaming. Tons of great resources out there. Two quick ones: Not or Salse/ (great book, and great website - also follow on twitter) Call+Response (great independent movie that joins music with the modern abolitionist movement- highly recommend!) Start searching, or really just open your eyes, and you will see that the global slave trade is everywhere, and the modern abolitionist movement is really getting ramped up. What is interesting (shocking? embarrassing?) is that many evangelicals are clueless, or like you mention here, scared. When will we start being on the front lines of the really important moral issues? IJM is an incredible organization, but I don't often see them supported by local churches. Any thoughts why?

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