Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Compassion Week Continues...

Yesterday on my blog, I talked about poverty. Poverty is one of those things that we know is true, but often doesn't seem real. We so rarely interact with people who are desperately poor and it is easy to fall into the trap of "out of sight, out of mind." But the reality is, in this very moment as you sit behind your computer and read this post, one in six people around the world lives in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1 per day.

When people live in extreme poverty it is easy for them to get exploited, abused, or seek desperate measures to survive. One trap that entangles some of these individuals is Human Trafficking (modern day slavery). There are currently over 27 million slaves in the world, more than any other time in history. These individuals are often kidnapped or deceived and then held against their will to perform tasks they do not want to do. These tasks can be anything: house cleaner, nanny, restaurant worker, factory worker, etc... And many, many of them are exploited for sex either through prostitution or the abuse of their owner.

Slavery is illegal in virtually every country where it exists. But it is an extremely lucrative business for those in the industry, so it is kept underground and is extensively and intricately networked together throughout the world.

What many people do not realize is that human trafficking is not just a crisis in third world countries. It is a crisis here in the United States. All 50 states have had reported cases of human trafficking. Though no one can be certain the exact figures, there are currently thousands of victims (some say hundreds of thousands) within our borders.

The San Francisco Bay area is a major hub for human trafficking. There are police task forces here specifically dedicated to fighting human trafficking. However, when a victim is rescued, there have been very few options for them as to where to find shelter. A domestic violence shelter, a homeless shelter, a hotel, or perhaps even jail.

But this August, the Freedom House will have it's grand opening! This will be the Bay Area's first shelter specifically designed to meet the needs of survivors of human trafficking! The awesome part is that this is going to be a Christian shelter, providing for their physical, emotional, mental, AND spiritual needs.

Freedom House seeks to provide a long term (up to 18 months or longer if necessary) shelter that is a safe, reverent environment for these women to begin to heal, learn necessary skills, get proper immigration status, and meet other needs that the survivors may have.

Andy and I have had the privilege of getting to know the founders of this organization a little bit and they are an amazing, godly couple. South Bay is so excited to be partnering with them to restore hope and dignity to these precious human beings for whom Christ died.

Andy & I are also supporting Freedom House on a monthly basis and you can too! It costs $29 to provide shelter for one night for one of these victims. Freedom House is doing an online giving campaign during the month of April to get people to join their team to help them minister to these survivors with the love of Jesus. I urge you to consider joining that team. $29 a month. $100 a month. Whatever you can do.

What if it was your daughter? Or your sister?  Wouldn't you want them to have the care that they need? 

"Whatever you've done to the least of these, you have done it unto Me."

Click here to go to the Freedom House website and begin donating today!

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