So at the beginning of this year, right after New Years in fact, I went to Atlanta Georgia to attend a conference called Passion.
At this conference, Christians from all over the country came to be uplifted and encouraged by speakers like Francis Chan and bands such as Hillsong United.
This was my first time attending a conference this big; there were 45,000 people in attendance and they all ranged from 18-25 years old.
It was incredible.
The focus of the weekend was to bring awareness to human trafficking and slavery that is still going on today.
Did you know there are an estimated 27,000,000 men, women and children in slavery today?
Yes, twenty seven million.
That's more than any other time in history.
We received a booklet the first day with some more statistics:
- Two children are sold into slavery every 60 seconds.
- 2,500 women and children are sold into sexual slavery every day.
- Right now there are at least 200,000 slaves in the USA and 17,000 more will be trafficked into the U.S. next year.
- Over 80% of human trafficking victims are women.
- In 1850, a human slave cost roughly $40,000 in today's dollars. Now a person can be bought for as little as $30.
- The total market value of human trafficking is estimated to be $32 billion- that's more than Google, Starbucks and Nike combined.
I attended a camp during high school where a representative of the A21 Campaign came and spoke to us. That time, several years ago at camp, was the first time I learned about human trafficking, and more specifically sex trafficking.
In fact, if you are a regular follower of my blog, you'll know that a percentage of my sales from my Etsy shop go to the A21 Campaign and their fight against injustice.
I already knew this was going on, however, I was shocked to hear that so many people were unaware that this sort of thing went on in the world today. How could people not know about something this big?
A problem that is 27,000,000 people big?
It is the third largest crime in the world today.
That includes the United States. Yea, things like this don't just happen in far off third world countries; they happen in your hometown too.
So why don't people know about it?
Then again it's not a very pretty subject to talk about.
The things that happen are so horrible you can't even imagine them. If you've ever seen the movie Taken you will get a small idea of what the sex trade industry is like, however, that does not even compare to the terrible, evil things that really happen in the sex trade.
It's a crime so incomprehensible that people tend to leave it unchallenged because it is such an unimaginable thing. And even if it does seem real, what difference could you possibly make, right?
Well let me tell you, that over the four days the conference was held, there was a goal that all 45,000 of us at the conference would raise $1,000,000 dollars for various causes fighting slavery.
They had giving stations around the conference where you could go and donate money, and then go and contribute to an art piece they were creating to inspire others to help fight against slavery.
And by the end of the four days we not only met the goal but exceeded it by raising 3.6 million dollars!
How awesome is that?
The A21 Campaign, Atlanta Project, Tiny Hands, IJM, Hagar, Wellspring and others.
It felt awesome being a part of something that will make such an impact.
But as awesome as that felt, I'd donated money before and I didn't want to become someone that just throws money at the problem hoping it would get fixed.
I want to do something more than that.
Not that money isn't important, because it very much is. Our support helps these organizations a great deal in creating shelters for freed victims to come to and recover; and gives them resources to free those trapped in slavery and provide them with: a home, food, clothes and safety.
However this subject breaks my heart too much to do only that. I want to give more of myself to this cause and help stand against it.
I've been researching different local non profits and I might start volunteering at one. We'll see where it goes and what God has for me.
The purpose of this post was not to accuse you of being ignorant or even to say that I'm a better person for wanting to do something about those 27,000,000.
It's to inform you.
Because there are so many people who don't know about this problem. I was one of them at one time.
It's to challenge you.
To step up and be a voice for those people. Those who have had their voices taken away.
It's to encourage you.
Because you can make a difference. Whether it's by donating money, volunteering at a local organization, or spreading the word and informing people about it.
Ignorance isn't an excuse.
Indifference is not an option.
It's time to rise up for freedom because slavery still exists.
If you would like to see how the money we raised is making a difference you can read about it here.
You can also read CNN's coverage of the story here.