Breaking the Powerless Narrative of Human Trafficking with The Freedom Challenge

With the #metoo and #churchtoo movement, the fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation can feel never-ending.

Yesterday, we covered why Christians should continue the work to end human trafficking and not grow weary of doing good. (Read the article here.) Now, we are digging deeper into the narrative surrounding human trafficking.

As previously noted, in 2019, The Freedom Challenge, an organization under Operation Mobilization, started a domestic partnership with the like-minded Logos Wilderness Therapy.

The Human Trafficking Narrative

Chelsea Van Essen, who is a licensed social worker and therapist, is the co-founder and clinical director of Logos Wilderness Therapy. She focuses on trauma and complex trauma and works with trafficking survivors. Primarily, human trafficking comes down to the exploitation of power and control.

“Oftentimes, when we’re healing from trauma or with trafficking survivors, we’re actually trying to re-establish the feeling of empowerment and control, and then also put those protections back in place,” Van Essen says.

Re-empowering people means starting with enlightening ourselves. Access to a multitude of stories about exploitation and abuse in the world is overwhelming. However, Van Essen emphasizes the need to not live into the narrative that the world is overcome with evil or that the average person is powerless.

“God has created us to live into these spaces of dignity and value of human life,” Van Essen says.

The next level of fighting human trafficking is seeing the individual.

“The first thing that [is] lost with human trafficking is the dehumanization. That’s the first thing that happens where people are objectified for someone else’s pleasure or power,” Van Essen says.

Reinstating a person’s dignity and humanization is powerful. Examples of seeing the individual are found in Scripture, too. Tracy Daugherty, the director of The Freedom Challenge, says human trafficking is a narrative throughout the Old Testament. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, and he was trafficked to Egypt. But before Joseph came Hagar, the mother of Ishmael.

Hagar and God

Daugherty explains how Hagar was trafficked from Egypt to Abraham, the same man who God makes a covenant with and who Christians call “the father of faith”. Despite being a man of faith, Abraham takes Hagar, most likely because social norms of the day said such an action was morally acceptable.

“He picked up this woman and then, of course, she becomes a, really basically a sex slave for [Sarai/Sarah] [Abraham’s wife] to have a child for them. And as you continue on that story, what I love about it is she is the only woman in Scripture that God reveals himself personally to. He says My Name is El Roi, the God that sees,” Daugherty says.

In Hagar’s story, God makes it clear that he sees her pain and how His people have wronged her. His face turns toward her pain, and he provides for her and her son.

“It’s just good to remember that this is not a new story. It’s not a new narrative. We’re just more aware of it, and from the very beginning, we see the enemy’s plan to exploit God’s beautiful, resilient, fabulous creation,” Daugherty says.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Mission Network News, Bethann Flynn