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Not for Sale

February 11, 2013

Last Sunday millions of people throughout the world watched the Super Bowl. If they couldn’t afford tickets to attend the game live, many households hosted parties, cheered and critiqued together, and enjoyed tasty snacks and extravagant commercials. But last Sunday was also a chance to raise awareness about something very real and very serious happening right here in Atlanta.

Super Bowl Sunday Worship Insert

During Sunday morning worship at Snellville UMC, our United Methodist Women (UMW) distributed inserts in the order of worship labeled “Intercept Human Trafficking.” For those who haven’t heard the term, Human Trafficking is the illegal sale of men, women and children for forced manual or sexual labor. Tragically, slavery is not just a term in our history books or Bibles about an ancient and taboo practice. Slavery still exists and numbers are higher today than at any other point in history. An estimated 27 million people are living in bondage across the world at this time, and the average age of a trafficking victim is just 12 years old, with some victims even as young as age 4. I just returned home from my niece’s 4th birthday party. So yes, this hits close to home. I will do everything in my power to protect her and others like her.

Happy 4th birthday Charlotte!

Happy 4th birthday Charlotte!

Atlanta is the # 1 hub for human trafficking and it’s not just happening in the city, but outside the perimeter too. Young girls are being promised a job, food, and shelter, but then end up being forced into prostitution. Many of these girls are runaways, but several of them are sold by their desperately impoverished parents seeking a way out of financial trouble.

What does the Super Bowl have to do with any of this? The Super Bowl is known as the number 1 incident in human trafficking. Think about it. Thousands of people are joining together in one area, a large majority are men, the excitement of the game takes over and alcohol is plentiful. Things get out of hand and poor choices are made.

This is something that is too big and too real for us to be uninformed about any longer, and once you’re aware, it’s hard to be passive about it either. I encourage you to take action in one of three ways:

1. Educate yourself about what human trafficking is and how you can get involved. Check out some of the websites, but do your own research too (because I’m still learning).

www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/act

https://wellspringliving.org/

http://enditmovement.com/

2. Join a group from Snellville UMC participating in V-Day: One Billion Rising (http://onebillionrising.org/). This Thursday, Feb. 14th there is a demonstration at the capital in Atlanta in an effort to end violence against women and girls. There will be speakers, dancers, music, and a call to action for the Georgia state legislature. Then the largest Flash Mob Atlanta has ever seen will take place on Peachtree Street to the song “Break the Chain”. If you are interested in going with us, contact me here: jschendel@snellvilleumc.org.

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3. Pray for victims of sex trafficking and all parties involved using the prayer below (credit thanks to UMW) or one of your own. Remember that we are the hands and feet that God works through.

“Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

Loving God, we come before you this day, thanking you for the good things that this day represents and what it means to so many people. However, Lord, we know that we are called to reach out in the midst of our bliss to those for whom such joyful days are few or nonexistent.

Holy One, we pray for those who have been sold into sex trade. We ask that you send the Comforter to them this day. Please ease their fears, loneliness and physical pain. Give them hope and help to escape.

Merciful God, although it is hard to do, help us show mercy to those who are profiting from this trade and to the poor families who sell their little girls to the traders. We ask that you turn them from their sinful ways and help them see a way to repentance.

Glorious Creator, please bless and uplift those in the battle against this horrible sin. You know that it is frustrating, hard and sometimes dangerous for them to take a stand. Please give them hope, continued courage and protection from anyone or any system that works against them.

Lord, give us, your servants, the courage to comfort the abused, confront the abuser and support those who are at the front lines of the struggle. We ask these things in the name of your son Jesus the Christ.

Amen.

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