Last week, when I walked through the door, my roommate grabbed my arm excitedly and said “Brooke – you would not believe the discussion in our small group tonight!” Obviously, I was intrigued and encouraged her to go on. She told me about how the screening of Nefarious – Merchant of Souls the evening prior had sparked a conversation among the people in the small group that she leads. She explained that some were aghast at the atrocities going on around the world with respect to human trafficking. She told me how some people in her group had no idea that the issue even existed and wanted to learn more about it. She asked me if she could get a copy of Nefarious so that they could watch the film together and discuss it further.
On Tuesday, September 18th National Community Church Against Slavery and Exploitation (NCC ASE) in partnership with Exodus Cry hosted a screening of hard-hitting documentary on human trafficking at the Barrack’s Row historic theater on 8th street. Though the heavy thunderstorms, tornado watches and back-ups on I-395 would dictate that everybody stay inside, over 200 people were in attendance. Exodus Cry, which is an organization and prayer movement that travels all over the United States showing the film, opened up the evening with a short introduction about the genesis of the documentary as well as a bit of warning about the nature of the film.
Nefarious is a true portrayal of the sex-trafficking industry from a world perspective, whether it be from Moldova, the epicenter of the problem in Eastern Europe, to Las Vegas, where flash and flair promise that prostitution will bring about a better life, to Bangkok, where girls and boys flock to gain financial stability for themselves and their families back in the rural provinces.
The prayer in the deepest part of my heart leading up to and following the event is that God would bring new insight on the issue to the lives of the people viewing the film. Human trafficking is such a myriad of emotional, spiritual, economic and educational brokenness that it is difficult to grasp. Prior to viewing it in a more comprehensive way, it is often easy to dismiss the sex industry as a choice, or a life practice that can be abandoned at any time. I prayed that the complexities of this issue would seep into the core of the individuals and call them to action.
Since then I have had several conversations with individuals about sex trafficking. We have discussed the prevalence of the abuse that paves the way for prostitution and the vulnerability to exploitation. We have discussed the ubiquitous nature of human trafficking, so much so that it exists here in Washington, D.C. in epic proportions; right in the financial district, Columbia Heights, and on Capitol Hill. We have discussed the way that prostitution is perceived and how unfair and untrue those perceptions tend to be at face value.
I am incredibly grateful for these conversations. Awareness is absolutely the first step. However, awareness does not do a whole lot without action. So, here is a call to action: get involved.
You might wonder how you can get involved. True, human trafficking is an enormous issue and at times it seems overwhelming. Yet it only takes one step at a time.
Step one. Pray. The first step to any meaningful action is to pray.
Step two. Get more Information. Sign up for more information. There is a plethora of information out there. You can sign up for the NCC ASE updates. You can sign up for DC Stop Modern Slavery updates. Or you can sign up for materials from End Slavery Now. There are about 100 local causes with which you can get involved.
Step three. Do something. This Saturday, September 29th, is the Stop Modern Slavery Walk. $25.00 to support DC Stop Modern Slavery in their local efforts and raise awareness. Join the NCC Team!
If you can’t do that, do something else. Check in with NCC ASE, or Stop Modern Slavery, or any other organization. You can go on a mission trip and see if God wants to spark a vision in your heart for a marginalized group. There is always something that can be done.
But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Brooke M. Birkey