They work in restaurants, hotels, and nail salons, and most notably they can be found in the sex trade. They’re victims of human trafficking who are exploited through acts of forced sex and labor.
Three years ago I learned that human trafficking existed in a big way here in my community in Austin, Texas. It exists where you live too.
Sex trafficking occurs in a range of venues including fake massage businesses, through online ads or escort services, in residential brothels, on the street or at truck stops, or at hotels and motels.
Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to influence adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will.
It’s ugly. And it’s not widely talked about, especially in church. And of all places it should be talked about is church. That’s why when I learned about the beLydia Gathering I was so intrigued.
The beLydia movement is a modern day woman’s response to the Gospel.
I recently was a guest at the beLydia Gathering here in Austin and I was blown away by the event and how it brought together key organizations in our community working to end human trafficking. So many people were eager to learn about the issue.
200+ gathered on a Saturday morning for a half day of learning and connecting. Guests were greeted with a goody bag and mingled with vendors supporting the fight against trafficking at the first beLydia Gathering.
What I love is that the beLydia Gathering helps raise money and awareness for anti-sex trafficking ministries while also supporting women in business.
There were almost a dozen vendors that made up the marketplace. It was so much fun to shop each booth and learn how each of them are committed to fighting human trafficking locally and globally. The marketplace featured everything from jewelry, to kitchen ware, home decor, to wearables. Can you say early Christmas shopping!?
The day’s program included speakers from four key non profits that beLydia supports including; The Refuge who provides a place of rest and refuge for child survivors of sex trafficking, The Key2Free who fights trafficking through education, awareness, and safe housing of survivors, Red Oak Ministries provides freedom and restoration to women, Redeemed Ministries who provides outreach, aftercare, and advocacy, and Adamo Nail Bar where your nail service allows women who are victims of sex trafficking to learn the art of manicuring in a loving environment.
The greatest thing is that your church can host a beLydia Gathering too! Find out more about them and get in touch here.
One of my favorite sources for up to date information about human trafficking is Polaris Project.
I’m so encouraged to see that this kind of gathering can make inroads not only within the community, but also within the church.
Have you been involved in the fight on human trafficking in your community?