Colette came to speak to our prayer group, and it wasn't pleasant. Her topic, and her passion, is human trafficking, the selling of people.
It sounds so barbaric, our initial reaction is that it must be archaic. Or at worst a problem limited to certain dark corners of the world. And an occasional blip on the screen of human activity. But the truth is far from that. People are selling people in most of the countries on earth. Lots of the traffickers are former drug dealers who've found that there's more money in human products, and yes, this is their day in and day out job.
According to Colette and her charity, Free For Life Ministries, there are millions of people in slavery right now, and the number is growing. Just imagine what it would do to a young girl's mind and spirit, to be sold, maybe even by her own parents. Then resold again and again. Each time she's sold, the conditions change, and she has no control over anything. And her owners sell bits of her for work, or more likely she's sold for sex. She would simply be left with no sense of self-worth.
At last she grows older and is released, or perhaps along the way she becomes pregnant, and has a baby. Surely she would have no idea of how to care for herself or to raise her child, except with the same worthless feelings, no hope, no purpose.
As you might imagine, policing this industry is nearly impossible. And there's so much money at stake, the officials in many parts of the world can be bribed not to interfere. Like many of the problems facing our world, it seems so huge that there's no way to fix it, and it appears that there's little that one individual person could do to help. But Free For Life has raised a lot of money and used it to actually buy people out of slavery, move them to safe houses, and teach them how to live independently, free for life.
Because I think most of our modern problems have an ecology angle to them, as I listened to Colette I kept thinking that there has to be a link to environmental issues. It seemed like a stretch, and yet, as I pondered the matter deeper, it became so clear. Colette's business is focused on this one issue, and her organization has been able to save lives. Thank God for her and her work.
It's a lot like Defenders of Wildlife. And church missionaries. And the American Cancer Society. And countless other charities. When we look at each of them, and follow it down and down toward its source, we find that they're branches of the same sick tree. And like a tree, every dying limb is an open doorway to bugs, diseases, and decay.
You see, we're separated from God. So of course we're separated from our mother, the earth. So of course we're separated from other people. So of course we're separated from other species. Through the course of human history, value has shifted from life to money. Rather than cooperating in the survival for this generation and creating a thread of history to the future, it's every person for themselves, right now. The focus of our marketing, media, technology, careers, families, and sometimes even our religion, is on me, me, me, right now.
If I don't value one human life, how can I value another? How can I care about the quality of our water, religious persecution, or corruption in government? If I'm focused on making more money to buy a more lavish lifestyle, even my peripheral vision won't detect a malnourished hand reaching out for help.
And so yes, it matters a great deal that Colette concentrates on human trafficking. And thank God there are other charities, organizations, and government offices that work on other specific problems, those in nature, and those in human society. Every single one of us much contribute in the way that touches us. We need each other.
Every such effort is a step toward community and away from isolation. It's a helping hand where there was none before. It's one less branch on the sick tree, and one more living vine.