Houston, Texas, 2017. Super Bowl week. Dozens of women walked up and down the city’s notorious prostitution track. And they kept coming. A man pulled up in a white SUV, and three teenage girls piled out of the backseat. I was there for a human trafficking outreach with Exodus Cry, so after the car drove away, my team greeted them and asked where they were from.
“I’m from Memphis.”
“I’m from Chattanooga.”
“They brought us in for the Super Bowl.”
Other women on the street had similar stories.
“I’m from Chicago.”
“They’re taking me to Vegas after this.”
Over the years, Exodus Cry has continued sending outreach teams to major sporting events, and this past month I joined with them again for Super Bowl LIV in Miami. Again, I met women from California, Tennessee, and D.C., who were being sexually exploited during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.
Sporting events draw sex traffickers like magnets. And they are just part of the puzzle. In just one year, the National Human Trafficking Hotline dealt with nearly 11,000 cases for sexual exploitation.1 That number represents only those who reached out for help. Although impossible to track, the actual number of exploited persons is presumably much higher.
How does it happen?
There are a variety of ways women and children can wind up in a human trafficking situation. I attended an Abolition Summit, where I heard Rebecca Bender share her story of being trafficked. Rebecca was a single mom stuck in her hometown while her friends went off to college. Then she met the man of her dreams. He loved her and her child. One day, the phone call came— “Hey babe, I have to go to Las Vegas for work. I bought plane tickets, and I want you to move out here with me.”
She flew to Vegas at age nineteen.
Her dream quickly turned into a nightmare. The man she loved and thought loved her, isolated her from her family, trapped her, and forced her to work in the sex industry in Las Vegas. She later shared her story at a conference I attended. The interviewer asked her, “How much did you make per night?”
“Thousands,” She replied.
“And how much did you get to keep?”
“Oh, none of it.”
“It all went back to my trafficker.”
Rebecca’s story is all too common. Whether at the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the hotels in Las Vegas, or the screens of the internet, thousands of people are sexually exploited against their will every day.
What can I do?
In Isaiah 58:6, the Lord asks Israel, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” God wants us to help the oppressed find freedom.
There are many ways to get involved:
- Donate to safe homes and intervention ministries.
- Volunteer with local outreach or prevention groups.
- Spread awareness about human trafficking.
- Join a lobby group and advocate for legal reform.
These are just a few ideas! Think of other ways you can sign your name to fight this injustice. Be creative! You are created by God, and He has already prepared a specific ministry for you, as Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Pray about how you can make an impact and help write the last check towards ending human trafficking.
Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®
Copyright © 1973 1978 1984 2011 by Biblica, Inc. TM
All rights reserved worldwide.