Due to the subject matter of this post--human trafficking--parental guidance is advised.
She walks down the street and keeps her hands stuffed in the pockets of her grey hoodie. Look as small and invisible as possible. That's what she'd learned to do.
Her bright green eyes were now dull and had lost their flicker of life. She kept her blonde hair tucked under her hood and kept walking briskly.
Around her the world carried on their busy, merry way.
Cars blew their horns down the street crowded with five o' clock traffic. Mothers chatted in groups as they pushed their baby strollers up and down the sidewalk that was lined with happy, pretty flowers in little pots around the lampposts. Teenagers just like her laughed and joked with each other as they messed with their iPhones or giggled about the latest happenings at school.
And all around her the world seemed to carry on.
They didn't notice. Or maybe they didn't want to. Or maybe...maybe they just weren't aware.
She kept her eyes focused on the concrete under her feet. She had to get back to where she was going or there would be consequences. There always were.
She picked up her pace and lifted her head. Her gaze caught with that of another teenager, maybe a few years older than she.
Their eyes met for but a moment and she cracked inside. For she desperately wanted someone to see her...to know the truth. But she had also lost all hope. No one was aware. And she wasn't sure they ever would be.
So she ducked her head down and kept walking forward in the crowd.
Although the little story above is fictional, I can tell you a sad truth.
It's the reality of millions of people.
I was thirteen years old when I heard the words human trafficking for the very first time. I still remember the way my chest felt tight and the anger boiled beneath my skin as my heart and soul screamed, "This isn't right. How can this be real? I have to do something."
Since that time I have spent years of my life fighting against human trafficking--modern day slavery. The slavery that lives among us with invisible chains and we don't always see it.
You see, January is National Human Trafficking Awareness month.
Thirty-one days meant to make you and I more aware of the darkness living around us.
Some may ask, "What will awareness do? What difference will awareness make?"
Awareness could mean the difference between life and death.
You see, if you aren't aware of an evil lurking in your very own society, how will you ever know how to fight against it? If you aren't aware of this trap of darkness, how will you have the knowledge to avoid it?
Simply, what I want to do in this post is make you aware. I want you to know that there is a darkness so great that it has engulfed the lives of millions around the world. And even here.
Human trafficking exists here. In America. In your backyard.
Slavery is real.
But by God's grace, we are given the ability to fight it.
So yes, now you know. Human trafficking exists and it's real.
But you can do something about it.
Educate yourself, tell others, raise more awareness, give of your time, money, and talents to the fight against this horrific crime. Use your voice. Because we all have a voice we can use. Won't you use yours for freedom?
Let's make 2018 the year we stand against human trafficking and declare freedom for all.