DULUTH – Even though the tragedy of human trafficking happens every day in Georgia, the month of January is a time to raise awareness and recruit new support for the fight against it.
January has been recognized as Human Trafficking Awareness month across many sectors, including faith based, government and law enforcement organizations. “It has been documented that wherever awareness goes up, instances of human trafficking goes down,” says Beth Ann Williams, lead strategist at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board
Awareness is part of the task of Mission Georgia in its emphasis on Human Trafficking. While many believe it happens only in big cities or with internationals, the weekly accounts from those on the front lines in this fight say otherwise.
A ministry leader who works directly with local law enforcement and the FBI to coordinate efforts in the East Central region of Georgia noted that a pastor once told her he did not know of any trafficking activity in his area. She went on to relay the story of a young girl who the FBI was actively searching for that had been trafficked from his own neighborhood.
Governor Brian Kemp and his wife Marty Kemp have taken an active roll in leading the charge against human trafficking. As a member of the GRACE Commission, First Lady Kemp has been vocal about the reality our state must confront. In a recent post on her social media page she stated, “Approximately 7200 men purchase sex from a minor every month in Georgia.”
In the midst of this ongoing fight, ministries are serving victims of human trafficking and bringing the transforming love of Christ to them. They go beyond awareness to action, bringing prevention and follow up care to hundreds of individuals each week in Georgia.
The Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries offers the Victory Program to youth they care for. Speaking of the program, they said, “As unbelievable as it may seem, some survivors struggle to liberate from their past and their trauma, and move forward. We show them that they are talented, unique, full of potential, and loved. We offer life skills courses and vocational training to give young ladies a chance for a new beginning.”
iCare of Augusta is another ministry serving trafficking victims. They posted recently about one aspect of the work they do on their Facebook page, a mentoring class to young girls called ‘Not A Number.” It “teaches them awareness to potentially exploitive situations and helps them understand what vulnerabilities are in their lives and in their friend’s lives. Once they can understand this concept, they can stand stronger against the tactics of traffickers and/or abusers. They also made efforts to discover their own strengths. They were very proud to receive their end-of-class certificates.”
Opportunities to volunteer and donate needed items to human trafficking ministries and efforts are abundant across the state. Mission Georgia can help individuals connect with these opportunities and training events. Donations to Mission Georgia to support Gospel-centered care to human trafficking and other needs in the state are also encouraged. To learn more, visit www.missiongeorgia.org.