Friday, February 28, 2014

So you drew a red X on your hand. Now what?

Let me preface this blog by saying that I'm a huge fan of Passion (where, from what I understand, the End It Movement began), and an avid supporter of any organization that does anything to help stop human trafficking and bring an end to modern day slavery. So I hope now you won't see me as a "hater" when I question people's commitment to this whole red X #enditmovement thing that happened yesterday. I don't want to come off as a critic, because those of us working against horrors like trafficking need to bond together (not tear each other down). But I did feel the need to write this blog to (hopefully) challenge some people who were a part of this red X movement.


Here's my question for you... every one of you who posted or tweeted that you were "in it to end it" yesterday. Ready?

"So you drew a red X on your hand.... so you told people who asked about it that modern day slavery still exists.... so you can rattle off some harrowing statistics about slavery... what now?"

No, really. What now? What else are you going to do to "end it now"? 

I get that you're all really excited about "shining a light on slavery", and that is important. But in many places around the world, slavery is happening in broad daylight. So you're going to need to do more than just shine.

I know you're going to say that awareness is important, and I agree wholeheartedly. One day, years ago, someone told me about human trafficking and child soldiers and genocide and gendercide and the orphan pandemic - and all of that led to the nonprofit work that I now do. And if I had never known then I never could have acted. But what happens now that we're all aware?

I was concerned about this last year, but I'm even more concerned now that I've seen it 2 years in a row. Because what I've seen is - for a day - my twitter feed and facebook are taken over by "activists" raising awareness about human trafficking and calling for an end to modern day slavery. And I get SUPER excited because for once my twitter feed is full of people who are passionate about something that matters, instead of the petty things we all normally tweet about. And I get really PUMPED because I think something HUGE is going to happen from this! And I get really encouraged because I think - "if all of my friends are passionate about this, then they are really going to start doing things that will make a difference!"

But that's what I don't see.

Because the day after, it all goes back to normal. 

And this is what I have a problem with. Do you really think that picking up a red marker actually made a tangible difference in the life of a trafficked child? Do you really think an X on your hand set a slave free? This isn't enough people! It's no where near "enough". I'm terrified to think that I'm living in a world where social media "activism" has completely taken the place of real activism. I see it everyday with our work for The Sound of Hope. We'll post a need for our kids overseas, and people will retweet it or "like" it or comment on it or share it - but they won't GIVE to it. Rarely do people actually DO anything to meet the need.

Clicking a button on your computer is not activism. Tweeting something from your smart phone does not make you a freedom fighter. Drawing an X on your hand doesn't make you an abolitionist. Issues this big require so. much. more.

Can we just look at scripture for a minute? Jesus told us to care for orphans (James 1:27)... heal the sick (Matt 10:1)... and set the captives free (Luke 4:18). He did not  tell us to just tell other people about the orphans and the sick and the captives. We're not fulfilling any commandments by raising awareness friends. We've got to take the next step! Awareness and action should go hand in hand.

Now I know from the little bit of research I've done, that the End It Movement is partnered with organizations that are actively working to end modern day slavery. I was glad to see the option to donate directly to that work on their homepage. I've heard about the millions raised to fight this issue at Passion Conferences, and that's really, really encouraging to me. But it's still not enough. I still feel like a lot of the "followers" of this movement aren't quite getting it. I know, because out of the hundreds of tweets I read, not one was encouraging their friends to GIVE to the End It Movement. As a matter of fact, I didn't see even one tweet that said anything about taking any action beyond a red X to raise awareness.

So I hope that I can encourage you to re-think your involvement. If you drew a red X on your hand yesterday, then I hope I can make you think about what else you're being called to do today, and tomorrow, and next month to "end it now". There are 10 organizations partnered with the End It Movement that you can get involved in. There are dozens more that aren't listed (a couple that I love are She Dances and Exodus Road.) And of course, there's The Sound of Hope. This is an issue that I am extremely passionate about, because it's an issue that affects the kids we care for in all 4 countries we work in. Human trafficking is one of the biggest dangers facing the children in our care. We have heard horrific stories of children being sold into slavery, sold into prostitution, sold (and maimed) as beggars, and even trafficked and killed for organ harvesting. We work to rescue children from some of the most dangerous areas overseas - like the slums, brothels, and impoverished villages (areas we know traffickers target for their victims.) We are fighting to protect these children, but we cannot do it without the funding we need. 

So GIVE. It doesn't matter if you gave at a Passion Conference last month - give again. I can tell you from experience (as an Executive Director of a non-profit) that our organization and every other organization I mentioned desperately needs your money so that they are equipped to do their important work! So give again, give regularly, and do more than just tell your friends about modern day slavery. Encourage your friends and family to give too! Put together a fundraiser - a bake sale, a car wash, a yard sale, a benefit show. Use your abilities as a FREE man or woman, to raise money that will bring others their FREEDOM.

Volunteer. There are plenty of organizations that are looking for volunteers. There might be one in your own back yard! Remember that human trafficking isn't just something that happens overseas. It's local too. Consider looking for a women's shelter or a nonprofit that works to rescue victims in the US. (For those of you reading in Birmingham, The Wellhouse is one.) There are plenty of great organizations that need your help! 

Continue to educate yourself about human trafficking. Go further than just learning the statistics. Become an expert, and learn what NOT to do. Learn about how the porn industry is connected to modern day sex slavery, and pledge to never view or purchase porn. Learn about what companies still use slave labor, and pledge not to use their products.

There is so much that you can do beyond just drawing a red X on your hand, and I hope and pray that you will do something tangible to truly help #endit! I'd really love to see some comments, facebook posts and tweets that said...

I'm in it to #endit! I'm drawing a red X to raise awareness and  I'm...                                                            
                                                  ... donating to Not For Sale
                                                  ... becoming a volunteer at IJM
                                                  ... organizing a fundraiser for The Sound of Hope
                                                  ... (fill in your own pledge here!) 

If everyone who tweeted their red X yesterday would commit to do something, then I believe we could see an end to slavery. So this is me, challenging you to be more than just a "social media activist".  If we all take action, then we really can #endit!