Friday, December 16, 2016

Hope for the Future: Power for the Present

I am a guest blogger on the XP Mission site about once a month.   I love a platform where I can build awareness about sex trafficking and share some of my journey.  If you would like to follow what XP Missions is doing here is the link:  I am so excited at all that XP has done this past year in Cambodia . . . women and children rescued out of being trafficked, hot meals for kids, education program sponsoring kids to go to school, house of prayer started, medical care, kids club, rice distribution, entrepreneurial outlets, the list goes on and on.  Such a small handful of people, but making such a huge impact on a nation!  Like I always say, it only takes a spark to get a fire going!  I remember when I was in Cambodia, I asked our Director about some of the kids we saw on the streets and the rescue plan for them.  She became thoughtful and said if they could only sell  more handbags (, they would rescue more girls and kids.  Sobering.  If you are looking for a place to give year-end that has an excellent return, look no further, XP Missions is an excellent outlet:

This is a blog post I wrote in November for XP Missions.  I thought some of you may not be on FB (where I posted it) and so I thought I would share it today.  I will have another blog coming out next week and will try to post it on my personal blog site as well.

1My GPS was alerting me to turn left into the high school parking lot, but I was confused. In front of me was a police car with lights and what looked like a guard station. As I pulled into the lot a uniformed woman began to wave at me to stop. She came to the window and asked me my name and where I was going. I gave her my name and told her I would be helping with a presentation on sex trafficking in the auditorium. I couldn’t help but wonder if she was going to frisk me next, but she waved me through. It was as if I had just crossed the border or entered into a prison yard, but this is just how it is at some of our public schools in America.
I found my way onto campus and to the auditorium. I greeted my teammate, and started up a conversation with a coach who was waiting by the girl’s restroom. This coach was monitoring the girls who entered the restroom and when she stepped away for a minute, a teen approached me and asked if she could use the restroom.  I said, “sure” but was super curious as to what “system” was in place. Upon entering the auditorium there were teachers spread throughout as kids were finding their seats, but one person caught my attention. She had a military style stance, and large radio gear attached to the side of her pants which was going off randomly. She was on high alert and commanding kids to find a seat quickly, instructing for cell phones to be put away, etc.2
I sat in the back row surrounded by high school teens, cell phones out, headphones on, jostling and goofing off as they entered the auditorium. Sadly, in that auditorium, there could be sex traffickers. Teens trafficking teens. Today these kids were all going to sit through a presentation on the potential dangers of the internet and sex trafficking. They came in all shapes and sizes, all nationalities and dispositions, but they were ours to influence for the next 45 minutes.
3In the United States an estimated 100,000 – 300,000 kids are trafficked. Many of the kids who are sexually victimized or trafficked in the U.S. come from foster homes or are on the streets as runaways. These young people often flee abuse and violence at home, but then become victims of sexual exploitation on the streets or in care homes. Experts have reported that within 48 hours of running away, an adolescent is likely to be approached by a trafficker. These are kids sitting in our schools, in our malls, in our churches, in our parks, bowling alleys, and bus stations.
Sex Trafficking is not just happening in other countries but is happening in our backyard. Some children are being sold by their parents right out of their homes. They will go to school during the week and then will often miss Friday school as they are being trafficked on weekends by their own family members only to return to school on Monday, exhausted, battered and unnoticed. Kids from at-risk lifestyles are being targeted by “spotters” and then “groomed” to be handed off to a trafficker once they are ready. The process is much like the recent movie, Hunger Games. 4
The other day my 14 year old daughter had a dream. She dreamt that the Hunger Games had come to America. If you have not seen the movies, or read the books, The Hunger Games is a dystopian novel/movie about a 16 year old girl who lives in a future, post-apocalyptic nation in North America. The Hunger Games is an annual event in which one boy and girl aged 12-18 from each of the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle (like reality TV), hunting each other to the death.
Sadly my daughter’s dream and this fictitious movie are more of a reality than we realize in our nation and the nations of the world. Our women and children are being hunted. They are being watched, stalked, kidnapped and groomed on the internet and on the streets of today.
At XP Missions, we educate on prevention, we rescue and we provide after-care.  When a child/teen is educated on the dangers of the internet and sex trafficking there is a much greater probability that they will recognize the “Hunger Game” directed towards them. If a child can be told this is not their normal and given a “new normal” that values life and instills significance, they will begin to think outside the cycle they are in.
One of the biggest factors that pulls a person away from a Predator is HOPE. We all can be hope carriers.
“Your hopelessness about a problem is a bigger problem than the problem.” ~ Bill Johnson
5Hope arouses vision and spurs us toward actions. Hope invites us to see, to pray, to give, to serve, and to be a voice in the battle against this modern day slavery of trafficking.
As I sat in the auditorium surrounded by teens, I prayed for God’s truth to capture their hearts and the message to be heard. It only takes a seed of hope for a child sitting there to be pulled out of exploitation and rescued. It could inspire another child to take on the cause and become an abolitionist. It could cause another to value themselves and others and to break cycles of abuse. 
“Where there’s no HOPE for the future there is no power for the present. The more vision we have for the future, the more power we will have for the present.” ~Steve Backlund 
Written by: Nita Weldon