“I can never say again, ‘Trafficking isn’t my problem.’ ” says Karine Woldhuis.
No one would think she’d ever say that. Since she co-directs SIM’s For Freedom anti-trafficking and exploitation ministry, it seems human trafficking is, indeed, her problem.
But, like so many people all around the world, nothing really feels like “our problem” until it hits close to home.
“Two Decembers ago, an 8-year-old girl in my community of Loja, Ecuador, was picked up by someone known by her family. She was used, abused, and then taken to a stadium that’s about 350 feet from my house. There, she was murdered.”
“This horrendous human trafficking case deeply impacted not only our local community, but the whole of Ecuador.”
“And it happened right next door to me.”
Who’s in danger
Human trafficking preys on the marginalized, particularly refugees and other displaced people. The most vulnerable among them? Women and children.
While most people readily associate trafficking with sexual exploitation, this accounts for only 12 percent of trafficking cases. Forced labor accounts for 50 percent, and forced marriage the remaining 38 percent.
The need is great. But the need for…what, exactly?
The three angles to fight trafficking
In the triangular approach to anti-trafficking efforts, many of us are familiar with rescue.
This aspect includes the breaking stories we see on the news, where armed officers kick down doors to confront criminal gangs, the mafia, and the like to rescue those who’ve been harmed.
Many are also familiar with restoration.
This is where your partnership with SIM helps the resilient survivors of trafficking find healing and receive tools to thrive again. God moves mightily in the area of restoration all round the world. (Check out the Restoration Home for Women at Risk in India.)
The third, commonly overlooked or misunderstood, aspect is that of prevention.
This is what For Freedom is dedicated to, with the mission of crossing barriers to proclaim Jesus to those who are vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation, particularly refugees, women, and girls.
“What is the greatest human need?” asks Karine. “It’s Christ, right? We find true freedom in Christ. But how are those people in the margins and the vulnerable going to not only hear about Christ, but be in a safe enough space to respond? We need to be building strong layers of protection around them.”
“Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: Instruction will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.” Isaiah 51:4-5 (NIV)
Building strong layers of protection
For Freedom works to create these layers of protection by partnering with the local Church.
Because isolated, unconnected individuals are that much more susceptible to being trafficked, For Freedom works with the local Church to strengthen their ability to connect with their community in meaningful ways.
“Picture a wooden Russian doll,” says Karine.
“The little one in the center is just really vulnerable. But we can help by placing her within other dolls,” she says.
“We can help her through primary school, help make home a safe place, help make the vulnerable aware of their rights, educate them on government services, and ultimately help them know Jesus. These all form layers that help keep them safe, and prevent them from being trafficked.”
In the 70+ countries where SIM is present, health workers, educators, church planters and workers, Sports Friends coaches, and so many others all play a critical role in trafficking prevention. And you are a crucial part of the effort.
Thank you for joining in what God is doing through For Freedom to protect vulnerable and marginalized people from exploitation. You are helping prevent someone from experiencing horrific trauma, while also sharing the life-giving love and truth of Jesus.
Please join us in prayer:
- PRAY protection for the vulnerable, like the 8-year-old girl in this story who shouldn’t have been preyed upon and murdered.
- PRAISE God for SIM workers like Karine. Ask God to meet their needs as His vessels in a challenging field of service.
- PRAY that God will provide the funding necessary to expand For Freedom and establish the layers of protection necessary to prevent exploitation and human trafficking.
Your generosity today spans the globe, helping prevent vulnerable and marginalized people from experiencing the horrors of trafficking and exploitation.
Please prayerfully consider giving a gift to further impact the kingdom of God.