It’s not just an Atlanta problem.
Human trafficking has seeped into every region in Georgia. Wherever you find a hotel, truck stop, neighborhood, or a school in the Peach State, there’s a good chance that, if you look hard enough, you’ll find people being exploited by human traffickers.
One woman who understands this is Marty Kemp, the first lady of Georgia. Her eyes were opened to the human trafficking issue several years ago when she discovered its impact on children. She thought about her own daughters and decided that she had to, “try to do something about” the human trafficking problem. She heads the Georgians for Refuge, Action, Compassion, and Education Commission (GRACE) which seeks to train people in what to look for and educate them to the reality of the problem.
The involvement of a high-profile figure like Kemp might lead some to believe that this is a political issue. It’s not. Human trafficking has much more to do with human dignity that stems from being created in the image of God. And it’s about Christ’s command to love God and love neighbor.
Lorna Bius works with the Mission Georgia arm of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, where her goal is “mobilizing churches to address specific needs in our communities.”
If ever there was a specific need, this is it. Bius wants Georgia Baptists to know that this is more than just a missions offering in September. Rather, it is “a year-round mobilization of churches.” It’s Christ’s Great Commandment that fuels Bius in reaching that goal.
“It’s not someone else’s job to love my neighbor,” she points out. “It’s my job.”
Steps to take
But how can Georgia Baptists take on this job once they realize that this is a problem much closer to their front door than originally thought?
First, they can take drastic measures to avoid all forms of pornography, realizing that there really is no such thing as soft-porn. Bius says, “Pornography, and certainly child pornography, really becomes an instigator” when it comes to human trafficking. Whether they realize it or not, the person who consumes pornography is, to some degree or another, participating in human exploitation.
Training is another tangible step that can be taken to fight this evil. That can be as simple as talking to local law enforcement officers to find out what they look for and if they offer any specific training for citizens.
Major Jeff Nix of the Butts County Sheriff’s Office says that just taking the time to recognize subtle cues is extremely important. “The age difference is key here,” he says.
In his experience, traffickers tend to be male and much older than their victims, who are usually females. Nix says that the victim will often act unusually afraid and as if she is under the control of the man accompanying her. If this seems to be the case, Nix says to call 911 immediately.
Finally, there are several organizations with whom Georgia Baptist churches can partner to fight this problem. Organizations such as icareforthevoiceless.org and wellspringliving.org have strong histories of partnering with churches to combat this evil in an efficient and practical manner. Finally, the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries offers hope to child victims who need help in every imaginable area as they start their lives over.
It’s not just an Atlanta problem.
Human trafficking has been confirmed in 145 of the 159 Georgia counties. When asked for her response to those numbers, Marty Kemp was clear and bold.
The first lady of Georgia understands that human trafficking is not just an Atlanta problem and she is using her resources fight it.
Hopefully Georgia Baptist churches will do the same.