Who Is Your Neighbor?

When it comes to human-trafficking, there are no geographical borders; there are only the people next door. There are no strangers; there are only people like us. There are no faceless statistics; there are only friends.

She rolled up her sleeves to show me her wrists. Here: the rope burns where they tied her up. There: the scars from when she tried to kill herself. Everywhere: cigarette brands extinguished into delicate skin. She said some days the struggle to live free felt impossible, that the temptation to go back was overwhelming. She said at least back there, she knew how to switch off. Perhaps it would be easier just to give up feeling altogether. She said the church didn’t understand her. They tried to welcome her, but she could tell she made them uncomfortable.

A man, looking to justify himself, once asked Jesus, “who is my neighbor?” He wanted a get-out clause—a loophole around love. He wanted to limit his concern to the small circle around him, to strict geographical borders, to the people like him, to those he called friends.

In response, Jesus told him a story about a man traveling down a road between two cities who is brutally attacked by robbers and left by the side of the road. A priest hurries past, leaving him for dead. Another of his own people walks on by. At last a foreigner, the “enemy” of his people, travels down the road. Finding him, he rescues him, puts him up in a hotel, and pays for his full recovery and care.

Three months ago, she challenged me not to speak of human-trafficking as if it were "simply" an international problem, happening to nameless, faceless people far away, too distant to reach, too different to matter. Then she told me she’d been a sex slave for 20 years in a Southern US city not 20 minutes away from where we stood, sold into prostitution by her own parents.

Two months ago, I met another woman from a wealthy town in the middle of America—a confident career woman, a mother of two, and a survivor of human-trafficking from within that very city.

One month ago, a beloved friend broke my heart when sat me down and shared with me that as a teenager she, too, had been a victim of sex-trafficking straight out of the foster care system.

Today, I live in a city where over $290 million of annual revenue is generated by human trafficking. Thirty minutes away from my house is Interstate 85, a major corridor for the trafficking of humans, many of them children.

When it comes to human-trafficking, there are no geographical borders; there are only the people next door. There are no strangers; there are only people like us. There are no faceless statistics; there are only friends.

My friend told me not to cry, because she was no longer ashamed anymore. She said she’d learned that ultimately, her story was not about what had been done to her, but about what Jesus had done for her. When he found her on the side of the road, he didn’t pass her by. Instead, he picked her up, brought her home, and healed her. Jesus is not someone who is uncomfortable around our scars; he wears his own.

At the end of his story, Jesus turned the question back on the man seeking to justify himself: “Who is the neighbor?”

The man responded, “the one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus replied, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

Born out of the belief that even one person trapped in slavery is too many, #ENDITMOVEMENT is a coalition of the leading organizations in the world in the fight for freedom. Each of our amazing coalition partners are doing the work, on the ground, everyday, to bring awareness prevention, rescue, and restoration. Joined by students and Senators, Nonprofits, and Fortune 500s, END IT is each of us standing for what's right until the number of men, women, and children suffering in silence moves from 40 million, to ZERO.

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