That 12-year-old girl you see on the street corner every weekend? The one you refuse to make eye contact with? She could’ve been you. When you were nine, your father could’ve abandoned you and left you alone with your drug-addicted mother. Your mom’s next boyfriend could have sent you out to earn money on that same street.
Child trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. According to A Heart for Justice, a website dedicated to spreading awareness about modern-day slavery and human trafficking, there are 2.5 million child sex slaves in the world today—some as young as 4 and 5. But how does it affect the land of the free? Do we need to worry about what’s going on here at home? As I spoke with Tish Goff, founder of Five Stones International, I found out the answer is a resounding yes.
I asked Tish if she could start out by explaining a little bit about Five Stones International.
“Five Stones International is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization. We are dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by human trafficking. We’re barely a year old at this point, but we’ve been able to assist two of the state’s official trafficking victims in tangible ways by providing bus passes, school supplies, clothing, groceries—things like that. We’ve also been doing awareness presentations to small groups and churches.”
What does the name Five Stones represent?
“Our name comes from the story of David and Goliath. As we were learning about the human trafficking issue, we realized that it’s huge. It is so huge that we felt we were facing a giant. It’s overwhelming and frightening and that can paralyze us. Especially because we think, Oh well, I don’t have anything to offer this issue. We’ve tried to do those things that seem logical and rational for a new non-profit to begin: ‘Hey, let’s get some business cards.’ God said no. And I realized that we were putting on the armor of Saul and it didn’t fit. God said no, go with what I’ve already given you. And so we walked to the stream and chose our five stones. That’s really our message for the body of Christ: There is some way that God has equipped you and gifted you that you can use toward accomplishing justice.”
According to their website, the Five Stones are: awareness, training, outreach, advocacy, and restoration.
I asked Tish how human trafficking affects our society.
“People created in the image of God are being bought and sold like mere products. I think what we don’t understand is how we contribute to human trafficking. Open up your pantry or walk around your house: Many of the products in your home are tainted by human slavery. At this point, it’s just woven into the fabric of our existence. Whether it’s the young men in Africa who are enslaved to pick cocoa for our candy bars or young women enslaved in nail salons, brothels, or strip clubs. We need to keep our eyes open to this issue and respond as God calls us to act.”
Tish read me some statistics:
* Globally, there are 27 million slaves worldwide
* About 17,000 people are brought into the United States every year for exploitation
* It’s a 32 billion dollar a year industry
* 100,000 American children are lured into commercial sexual exploitation each year
* It’s estimated that 2 children are sold every minute worldwide
* The average age of entry into commercial sexual exploitation in the United States is 12
According to A Heart for Justice, there are more slaves today than ever before in human history.
So what can we do—practically—to help?
Rebekah Hanson was born and raised in the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, where she competed as a national champion in figure skating. She earned her B.A. in rhetoric at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign. After graduating with a J.D. from The Ohio State University, she moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is an editor and writer, and the mother of a beautiful six-year-old daughter.