|Image from www.sharedhope.org|
"Front door opening," announced the electronic voice as I entered the kitchen where *Shayla was busily preparing Valentine's candy for an upcoming banquet. I walked past the cubbies where girls hang their coats and studied her face for a moment.
"Do you like school?" I asked.
What else do you ask a sixteen-year-old who's spent most of her existence earning her keep from a pimp's bed?
America has a dirty little secret that needs to be told--shouted from our pulpits and elevated above our prosperity-seeking prayers. That's what drove me up a long, wooded driveway to a restored mansion hidden away in the hills recently. I wanted to find out the hard truth about the second largest illegal industry in our country: the sex slave trade (second to the illegal drug industry; they go hand-in-hand). The same emotions well up inside me now as I type these words, as they did when the founder of the only state-licensed "safe house" in Pennsylvania (run solely on donations) told me the following:
An estimated 100,000-300,000 children in the United States are victims of what is called "familiar trafficking"--being sold into the sex slave trade by someone they know.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is a hot spot for the American human trafficking industry, being a major truck route to... our nation's capitol. Many clients come in three piece suits.
Some girls fear going to their local police station for rescue, for a reason more dark and painful than we care to entertain.
In upstate New York, a couple was caught raising children for the sole purpose of selling them into the sex slave trade.
A woman in a small town, PA trailer park wittingly handed her seven-year-old daughter into the hands of a pimp.
A mother in the Southern Tier made money by inviting her boyfriends into her home to sexually abuse her five-year-old daughter.
Are these facts painful to read? We know nothing of pain.
Here's a more hope-filled fact: we can do something about human trafficking in the United States.
You are invited to hear a presentation by the founder of the safe house I visited, next Sunday at Wellsburg Neighborhood Church along the central NY/PA border (separate service for kids provided).
"Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?" Proverbs 24:12
*name has been changed
For more on the worldwide and US human trafficking industry, check out