(Kate Quinn of Edmonton's PAAFE)
The headline is nothing new. Consumers fuel the demand for sex services, tightly interwoven with the world of trafficking, and thus inject the economic base for its voracity in our country. Finding justice can be difficult when victims are too scared to face their perpetrators. If there was no demand, there would be no need for a supply. However, with the mainstreaming of pornography and the gluttonous demand for sexual/erotic services, Canada has shown that it has no intention of slowing down its demand.
How is the church to respond?
1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. And love your neighbour as yourself. The two single greatest commandments. Dwell in these realities, and bring them out of sermons and theological arenas. This life holds true for every area of our lives.
2. Learn what's going on beneath the surface — how trafficking works, its many faces, its levels, the reasons why people are involved, and be willing to have your bubbles popped. Guaranteed that a situation of trafficking is not what it seems to you at first glance.
3. Keep loving.
4. Create sacred and safe places of Christ's healing for victims. It is hard enough for victims to admit to what's happened to them, let alone going before a court of law. Unless children are involved, victims are not legally required to report, so as lay people, be the safe place of healing.
5. Bear in mind that evangelism is not the church's first calling. It is a calling, but certainly not the entire scope. People need safe places may need restoration, relationship, and even people to lash out at. Sometimes putting down our zeal for evangelism is the best thing we could ever do. Think about it… after having been forced to sleep with 12-15 men/night, abused and degraded, humiliated, and rejected, would you want to hear about "The Perfect Man" who promises to never hurt or degrade? Hear this through the victim's ears. It might be a hopeful message to us, and it might be a hopeful message down the road, but be sensitive. Know when to shut your mouth and open your ears and arms.
6. Be prepared to deal lovingly and with justice men and women who come forward admitting to accessing sexual and erotic services. These people are not the sleazy old men next door. They are 'every man' and 'every woman'. Sin keeps people hiding in the dark. When crimes are confessed, know when law enforcement must step in and perform their responsibilities, but do not give up on the perps. In our anger, we often demand blood and then leave people to rot in jail "thinking about what they've done". Well… unless we as the church follow through with them, whom will they have? Justice must be served, but remember that God's grace and justice are perfect and seek this wholeheartedly. If we are ruled by anger and fear and disgust, then we act as the Pharisees did: all huff and puff, but no stuff.
7. Love. Love. Love.
8. Be prepared to be disappointed. We are not the heroes. We do not save people from their lives of despair. When someone returns to that lifestyle or refuses to ask for forgiveness, it can hurt us deeply. All that work… Compassion fatigue sets in. It's not about us!!! If we enter into understanding at the beginning that we are not saviours, that this role has already been fulfilled perfectly, our perspective is a bit more humble.
9. Refrain from blaming the victim. Churches, clergy, lay people have all been guilty of looking at women dressed provocatively and have condemned them as "deserving what they get". Self-righteousness and condemnation have worked to do more damage in the lives of victims crying for help than we could ever know. Words like these can destroy the deepest part of us. We are repeatedly warned throughout the NT to watch our words.
We live and teach what real beauty and love are, raise our girls to see themselves through Christ's eyes, and we accept everyone as Christ did. No one — NO ONE — has the right to take sex from anybody for any reason without consent, no matter their attire or lifestyle. If you encounter a girl who has been victimized and she's dressed in barely nothing, and you start thinking… "Well if you're gonna dress like that…", STEP BACK. You're set to do damage. Find someone who can assist without that kind of stereotypical judgement or quickly change your head.
10. Love. Love. Love, and love again.
Sensing a theme?
… patient, kind…
… keeps no record of wrongs…
… trusts… hopes… perseveres..
and so much more.