fbpx

God and Human Trafficking – YWAM Asheville

god human trafficking

God and Human Trafficking

by guest author Julia Nance

23, 32, 40.3 million….these are all guesses and estimates of the number of people who are being trafficked at any given time. Regardless of the actual number, it’s an amount that is almost incomprehensible…Where is God in the midst of such a horrendous, overwhelming injustice? 

Modern day slavery isn’t something we really think about, but it is the second most profitable illegal trade in the world, generating around $150 billion a year. To make these large numbers even more staggering, about $99 billion is made by the illegal sex trade industry. 

A heartbreaking industry that leads to millions and millions of people being forced into sexual exploitation. 

Human trafficking: “The unlawful act of transporting or coercing people in order to benefit from their work or service, typically in the form of forced labor or sexual exploitation.” 

human trafficking

Human trafficking is a hateful and careless act that robs the victim of their freedom, their hope, and even their life. It violates their body, mind, and soul. Every person has the right to freedom and right to choose their path in life, but so many never get that chance. Worse yet, it often happens right under our noses. 

Though it can (and does) happen as portrayed in movies with dramatic kidnappings and underground auctions, more often than not it starts in more unassuming ways, ways in which the victims themselves are unaware of. 

Kidnapping for the purpose of trafficking happens, absolutely. But a fact that is just as scary, if not more, is that it happens with people you trust; even family. Oftentimes a trafficker will gain a victims trust before they ever make a move to exploit them. 

They will even enter a friendship or romantic relationship with the victim to gain trust and extract information that will later be used to gaslight them and keep them emotionally bound to the abuser. 

Possibly the hardest form of trafficking to wrap our minds around is familial trafficking, where a member of a family will exploit another member to gain money, drugs, housing, or anything of value. Familial trafficking is one of the most common forms of human trafficking. 

Pornography is another large, and a rapidly growing catalyst that leads to the demand of sexual exploitation. Not only does it create a demand for more explicit content, it creates an unhealthy and distorted view of sex and intimacy. Studies have shown that the average age of exposure to pornographic content is just 11 years old. 

human trafficking

The Power of Forgiveness – YWAM Asheville

The power of forgiveness

The Power of Forgiveness

What is forgiveness? 

Psychologists define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. Though I agree with most of this definition, none of us has the right to decide whether or not someone deserves forgiveness.

When Jesus died on the cross and chose to forgive people who would continually sin against Him, He proved that no one on earth has the right to deny forgiveness to another. When we choose to receive God’s forgiveness, we forfeit our right to withhold it from anyone. 

Forgiveness, according to the Bible, is God’s promise to not count our sins against us. Though given freely in amount, God’s forgiveness does come with a warning: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins,” says Matthew 6:14-15. 

The Bible makes it clear that the extent to which we forgive others is the extent to which we will be forgiven. As every other command the Lord gives us, this too is covered in His divine omniscience and drenched in unconditional love. This is easily shown when we look at what follows unforgiveness. 

heal past

Why is forgiveness important? 

“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die,” says Marianne Williamson. Science has proved this to be true when medical books began classifying unforgiveness as a disease. 

Unforgiveness has been linked to heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression. Studies continually show that our emotional health is directly linked to our physical health and that the effects of unforgiveness can be detrimental. 

On the other hand, the act of forgiveness can lower the risk of heart attack, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce blood pressure. The power of forgiveness not only applies to the physical realm but the spiritual realm as well. I had the privilege of experiencing this first hand a few months ago. 

 

The Power of Forgiveness

My Mom and I’s relationship has been strained for the majority of my life. During my DTS at YWAM Asheville, God continually brought up the subject of forgiveness. In the last week of my outreach, I finally obeyed what the Lord was calling me to do and chose to forgive her. 

One major lesson I learned in DTS is that you have to fully accuse (acknowledge the pain and wrongdoing) before you can fully forgive. For me, that looked like writing a letter to my Mom where I could explain how deeply her actions hurt me and the things I wished she had done differently. 

Writing the letter wasn’t for the sake of sending it and making my Mom understand my pain, it was so that I could express and release everything that had been brewing inside of me. I burned the finished letter as a symbol of my decision to release and forgive her. 

In those moments, God taught me how to separate my Mom from her actions and how to see her as an individual whom He loved and died on the cross for. Nearly 6 months after burning that letter my Mom confessed that the Holy Spirit had convicted her for the ways she had treated me, owned up to things I had never even mentioned being upset about, and asked for my forgiveness. 

I had no idea that God was moving on her heart the way He was or that forgiving her would release a miracle! 

What forgiveness isn’t

 

Now that we have established what forgiveness is and what it can look like, it’s important to address what it isn’t. Forgiveness often isn’t a one-time event and it doesn’t mean that you forget what happened, or feel differently right away. 

When I find myself picking up past offenses, I choose to surrender it to the Lord again and again, reminding myself that I have already laid it at the foot of the cross. Our emotions can make us feel as if we can’t forgive, but feelings have nothing to do with forgiveness. Choose to obey God with your will and mind and your emotions will fall in line. 

Forgiveness also does not equal reconciliation. Though I always hoped for the restoration of my Mom and I’s relationship, my ability to forgive her was not contingent upon her apologizing to me and trying to better our relationship. 

The heart posture behind forgiveness must be one that does so out of obedience, expecting nothing in return. Additionally, forgiveness is not synonymous with trusting someone again. The Lord calls us to forgive, but He does not call us to be doormats. 

 

How does YWAM Asheville value forgiveness? 

Here at YWAM Asheville, forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation are more than just lecture topics…they are realities lived out in everyday life by everyone. As a team, we are continually working towards unity. 

This often means that we have to apologize, empathize, and be vulnerable with each other. Part of why I love Youth With A Mission is because there is such an emphasis on Christlikeness in relationships. As students, whether that’s in Discipleship Training School, the Foundational Leadership Course, or another secondary school, you are equipped with tools to love others like Jesus does. 

forgiveness

Final Takeaway 

In a word, forgiveness is powerful. The lack of it can cause harm and distance us from the Lover of our souls and the act of it breeds peace, life, and miracles. Forgiveness is never easy, but it will always be worth it. 

Choose to believe that the God who sees you is even more aware of your pain than you are, and trust that His commands are best because He will always love you most. Whatever your journey of forgiveness, no matter how impossible it may seem, His grace is sufficient and He will walk alongside you every step of the way!

Ways to Fight Against Human Trafficking

Ways to Fight Against Human Trafficking 

 

Introduction 

Not only is human trafficking a hot topic these days, it is an injustice close to the heart of God. Here at YWAM Asheville, we believe that the power of the Gospel, godly community, and the support of professional experts in the field can all successfully address the wounds of those who have been trafficked or experienced exploitation. But what can the everyday person do to help fight human trafficking?

What is Human Trafficking? 

We often assume that when someone refers to Human trafficking that it involves someone being used for sexual services and we leave out the whole other, huge aspect of people who are forced into horrific practices by the use of labor. Many times the two types of human trafficking: labor and sex go hand in hand. 

Domestic servitude, working on agricultural farms, the fishing industry, brick factories, sweatshops are just a few examples of ways that people are made to work with little to no pay. 

Now more than ever we have our hands on unlimited resources to figure out what is going on with trafficking in our world but we find it hard to know exactly what to do to fight this plight. Here are a few ways that you can be involved in saying “no more!” to trafficking in your country, state, even in your hometown. 

human trafficking

6 Ways to Fight Against Human Trafficking 

  • Research: Do your homework! This one is overlooked by many, we want to jump in and feel that we’ve done something physically to combat human trafficking. But knowing what you’re talking about and what you’re truly trying to fight is key in the process. There are many things that are missed out on when you don’t know your terminology, aren’t sure what’s happening in your city, and are clueless to the people who are already making a difference.

     

  • Pray: Another overlooked one and often thrown to the curb. Intercessory prayer should be the foundation of any ministry. This is the time to get on your hands and knees before God, hear His heart, pray His prayers, and receive strategy for how you should be involved. Part of YWAM training includes teaching students how to effectively engage in intercessory prayer, and seeking God’s heart for any given situation. YWAM DTS and secondary school students will graduate with a solid foundation of prayer, comfortable and confident in approaching the throne of God in order to partner with Him in prayer.

 

  • Thrift: Something that seems so small but if we all commit to it it will make a difference. As a society we consume and waste so much, including clothing. Many clothes are made in sweatshops, where the conditions are horrific, the pay is terrible to nothing, and where people are worked to the bone. When you choose to thrift your clothes, you are not only helping the environment by choosing a sustainable option but you are defying the consumer mentality of, “I want more.” ThredUp and Poshmark are two great places to buy used clothing and to also sell some of your stuff. ThredUp will even send you a shipping label. so that you can recycle your old clothes sustainably rather than just giving it to a Goodwill.
  • Buy Ethically/Fair Trade Goods: Beautiful Earth is a company that specializes in non-blood diamonds. Tony’s Chocolonely are a part of Fairtrade and produce amazing chocolate. There are many companies out there who are doing their part in making sure that the money goes into the right pockets. 

  • Raise Awareness: Find a local anti-trafficking non-profit who can train you and offer volunteer opportunities. As you learn more about this injustice, use the platform that you already have to speak out against it. If you’re a stay at home mum, follow some social media accounts and repost. A student, find out about the scenarios that traffickers often use with your age group and make your friends aware. A businessman, invest financially and buy ethically. A small group leader at your church, do a session focussed on fighting trafficking and teach your group of the things they can watch out for. 

  • Give: A lot of us are called to give financially to aid the good works that are already happening. Youth With A Mission values depending on God in all areas, including financial provision. We also believe that generosity is a powerful thing. We have seen God move countless times through a simple financial gift. There are a lot of organizations that would benefit from $10 a month or one time giving. Make sure that you know where your money is going. 

 

How does YWAM Asheville Fight Against Human Trafficking? 

The Reshma Project is a ministry of YWAM Asheville. The vision of the Reshma Project is to expose the darkness of sex trafficking, to empower the enslaved to escape bondage, & to enrich their life and self with dignity. This takes place in India, North Africa, The Middle East, and locally in Asheville. As a community, YWAM Asheville is passionate about seeing a woman who has been affected by human trafficking be made whole. We approach this holistically, giving her practical training and

tools to create a sustainable income, provide counselling and therapy, and assist her with any physical illnesses or injuries she is experiencing. Through the whole process of restoration the Gospel is made real, personal, and tangible.

 

Final Takeaway 

If we each do our part we can make a dent in this industry that is running rampant around our world. It feels like an impossible battle to fight, but we just need to be faithful to do our part. Every small thing counts in the fight against human trafficking.

Laura-Beth Rimmer

Founder of The Reshma Project

Laura-Beth is not only a staff member here at YWAM Asheville, she is an abolitionist. With a lifelong calling to “disciple and empower those affected by human trafficking”, Laura-Beth is the founder of The Reshma Project.

 

Social Justice vs. Biblical Justice: Know the Difference

Social Justice vs. Biblical Justice: Know the Difference 

Introduction:

According to the dictionary, justice is, “behaving according to what is morally right and fair” or “just behaviour or treatment.” Justice is inseparable from morality. As a Jesus follower, I base my decisions that are moral on what I see in the scriptures. I look for how justice and morality are displayed by Jesus. I’ve chosen to view God as the ultimate moral creator and giver. Who else should we look to for guidance in this area? When I allow the gospel to determine my understanding of justice, my definition of it changes. 

 

What is social justice?

The United Nations defines social justice as “the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth.” The National Association of Social Workers states that “social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Social workers aim to open the doors of access and opportunity for everyone, particularly those in greatest need.”  

Culturally and generationally, we correlate the term social justice with economic opportunity, access to resources, and equity in treatment. These are not “bad” things whatsoever. In fact they can reflect very Biblical values. 

But Christians cannot allow their understanding of justice to be rooted in society’s definitions. Our foundation and compass when approaching the topic of justice must begin with the heart and Word of God. 

We live in a society where everyone makes their own decisions on what justice is and all that it entails. Hot topics and controversy tend to lead these conversations, and we have a tendency to let “justice” become an excuse to point fingers at each other. Each culture and generation define social justice in their own way, forever adjusting implications and expectations. Social justice, especially in the age of social media, can elevate someone who has experienced an injustice to a hero status, glorifying victim identity. Do victims deserve recognition, healing, space, and platform? Absolutely. We must listen to those who have been wronged in order to make changes. However, there is a pattern of idolizing victims, which enables a cycle of pointing out injustices without providing solutions to root causes. This is exacerbated by the speed of every news cycle, and noise made on social media…Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok are platforms that offer very limited understanding of the extensive context of each issue. Context that is desperately needed to accomplish sustainable change.

God recognizes that each individual requires different amounts and types of resources, assistance, and tools. His mercy and goodness to us are as unique as we are. Today’s version of social justice tends to make blanket statements and sweeping judgements. One size does not fit all when it comes to true justice. Biblical justice holds space for every circumstance to be unique and complex.

Spend Time With God in 6 Simple Ways

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

Isaiah 1:17

What is Biblical justice?

I would like to come at this from an angle like someone who is in full-time Christian ministry at YWAM Asheville, fighting human trafficking on a global scale. It can be very easy to be pulled into the emotions of things that I see in moments of cruelty, trauma, and even restoration. A sense of anger can arise when I hear first-hand accounts of neglect and severe abuse.

In these moments, I am given the opportunity to let Jesus expand my understanding of what justice is. He invites me to move forward with the intentional response, rather than the compulsive reaction. 

Fighting injustice with intentional response might look like this: 

-compassion 

-listening 

-generosity and care 

-walking committedly alongside the individual 

-and together pursuing a place of wholeness and wellness. 

It can also mean making sure that perpetrators, if possible, are held accountable for their actions. Biblical justice does include standing against evil in all forms. But it doesn’t stop there. 

Often we feel that justice has been served in completion when the perpetrator is in jail…or a sum of money has been paid, or something stolen has been restored. Rather than letting it end there, we should look to follow through in every situation with grace. Grace is not at odds with biblical justice. It is a paradox, but one we must embody as Christians. 

The Difference between Social and Biblical Justice

Biblical justice goes the extra mile, and then some. True justice walks in forgiveness towards the perpetrator, tries to break the mold of generational abuse, and brings reconciliation. Social justice often falls short by treating a symptom, whereas Biblical justice seeks to treat the root cause; the heart. 

Many perpetrators of injustice behave as they do because they are themselves victims of injustice. Yet society expects them to be an upstanding citizen with morals and use common sense. This is a vicious cycle that won’t be stopped by simply having someone declared as “guilty” by a judge and serving their sentence. There is a deeper, heart-level cause that needs to be addressed for Biblical justice to prevail. 

Final Takeaway 

As a teenager, my family experienced devastating trauma and injustice. It wasn’t until many years later that I truly chose to walk in forgiveness, which allowed my heart to move forward in freedom in an indescribable way. The people who created the pain will likely never know that I have forgiven them…but if there were ever a time that I was to be face to face with them, I know how I plan to respond. It’s shown me that healing can be possible at every level, and God has used this event to carve love and compassion for offenders in my heart. 

Are you quick to write off those who have inflicted pain? Or would you be willing to spend your time with the “sinners” of society, those who cause pain? When Jesus came, he came for the lost, the brokenhearted, the perpetrator. 

I pray that believers living in 2021 learn to focus on grace going hand in hand with justice. Our society has often decided that they don’t belong together. But that is who Jesus is. Mercy and truth. Grace and justice. Lion and lamb. 

YWAM values training every student who comes to a Discipleship Training School about the true meaning of justice. Everyone who does a DTS at YWAM Asheville will receive teaching on justice, forgiveness, mercy, and compassion…and have the chance to demonstrate the beauty of Biblical Justice to the world around them. If you’re ready to take your understanding of justice to the next level, join us for the next DTS! Apply in just minutes for free.

 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” 

Micah 6:8