Monday, July 16, 2012
An Army of Abolitionists
Women Ministries of the Covenant Church equipping many to fight Human Trafficking.
By Cheryl Meakins,
Special to ASSIST News Service
(ANS) -- Since 2008 Women Ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) in North America has tackled the pervasive giant of human trafficking. Started as a response to a vision set forth by Ruth Hill, former Executive Minister of Women Ministries, the campaign, “Break the Chains,” has raised more than $600,000 benefitting both domestic and international ministries standing in the gap as modern day abolitionists.
Human Trafficking has a long history with humankind, but never have we recorded numbers of so many slaves than in today’s world market. It is estimated that nearly 30 million people are enslaved today, and the slavery market seems to be competing with drugs as the most profitable business for organized crime. “Trafficking in humans generates profits in excess of 32 billion dollars a year for those who, by force and deception, sell human lives into slavery and sexual bondage. Nearly 2 million children are exploited in the commercial sex industry.” (International Justice Mission, 2012)
Ruth Hill with freed women from the sex trade, Pune, India
Human Trafficking is defined as: “traffickers using force, fraud, or coercion to exploit people in the commercial sex industry, domestic servitude, manual labor, and in other ways.” (http://www.covchurch.org/trafficking/definition/) Human Trafficking is modern day slavery, and Women Ministries of the ECC are modern day abolitionists.
In their first wave of efforts starting in 2008, Women Ministries of the ECC focused on the plight of trafficked women in India. They partnered with the Hindustani Covenant Church and International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org) to build a safe house, The Rehabilitation Centre, for women leaving the sex trade industry in Pune, India. Their efforts were celebrated when Ruth Hill traveled with 13 women in 2011 to dedicate the building during a PACE (Prayer and Cultural Education) trip sponsored by Women Ministries.
Former sex worker making communion wafers
The Hindustani Covenant church perseveres in their efforts of bringing confidence, healing, and hope to the women rescued from the sex trade. The church has recognized that many women engage in this destructive trade because they are the sole bread winners for their family. Therefore, part of the Rehabilitation Centre’s focus has been to provide training and education to give women another means of income. They have begun a cottage industry making communion wafers for the Christian churches in India. This is the wording on the packaging: “Flesh Traders Become Flesh Maker of Jesus Christ”
It then says, “Hindustani Covenant Church, has initiated a new venture of making Holy Communion wafers through female sex workers, those accepting Jesus Christ as personal savior. The rehab women from sex work are now making the host which represents the body of Jesus Christ, the same women who used to sell their body in sex market but today they help people to understand the value of holy body of Jesus Christ by making the host. The girls who were in darkness and hopelessness having a great hope in Jesus Christ and the same girls bringing a consciousness of sin, bright future, Great Hope in life of people by making this host.”
Outside of the rehabilation centre
in Pune, India
In 2010 the focus of Women Ministries of the Covenant Church came back home and highlighted the plight of those trafficked on the soil of the United States of America. Their fund raising efforts gave needed aide to New Day for Children (www.newdayforchildren.com), a ministry in California rescuing and restoring girls from the commercial sex trade industry. Their location is undisclosed to ensure the safety of the girls they have rescued. Along with safe housing they provide the needed counseling and education that will enable the rescued girls a future filled with hope.
Women Ministries of the ECC is burdened to not only raise funds to fight this crime but also raise an army of individuals who personally engage where and when they are able. In 2011, under the leadership of Meagan Gillan, current Executive Minister for Women Ministries of the ECC, the denomination’s Human Trafficking Task Force developed a resource for individuals and churches to activate every person. P.R.O.T.E.C.T.: A Strategy to Prevent Human Trafficking in Our Communities was released early 2012 and is available from the Covenant Bookstore
http://covbooks.com/products/protect-a-strategy-to-prevent-human-trafficking-in-our-communities or as a free download at this address:
Member of PACE trip in front of Rehab Centre
P.R.O.T.E.C.T. is an acronym representing:
P – The Power of Prosecution
R – Responsible Consumerism
O – Orientation to Healthy Relationships
T – Training to Identify and Report Trafficking
E – Education to Protect the Most Vulnerable
C – Community Response
T – Training to Support At-Risk Youth
The P.R.O.T.E.C.T. booklet is comprehensive individual empowerment. The size of this giant can paralyze us in fear but the information and action plans in this resource can help each of us gain the courage to begin the fight in our own communities.
Human Trafficking may be our Goliath in this age, but this giant is not bigger than our God. If each of us would pick up our smooth stones provided in the P.R.O.T.E.C.T. booklet, we can fell our giant and be men and women after God’s own heart.
Isaiah stated long ago the prophetic words of Christ’s life:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness the prisoners,” - Isaiah 61:1 NIV
Christ in us is the hope of our world. Take up the fight!
If you feel compelled to financially engage in this war please consider a donation to Just Women http://www.covchurch.org/women/donate/ , the new project of the Women Ministries of the Covenant Church. Your funding will enable more training and resources to equip our generation with the tools they need to fight human trafficking.
Cheryl Meakins is an author and speaker called and compelled to ignite the power of women who exchange curses for blessings, insecurities for confidence, and self-reliance for giving and receiving. Cheryl is author to her blog Cheryl Meakins Speaks, as well as a contributing author to “If I can do all things through Christ ~ Why can’t I find my car keys” and “Big Dreams from Small Spaces” both scheduled for release in the fall of 2012 by Group Publishing. She has been a guest speaker for women’s events and is following the call to become an advocate for the fight against Human Trafficking. Cheryl currently serves as Chair for ministries of Compassion, Mercy and Justice for Women Ministries of the Covenant Church in her region. She can be reached at www.MeakinsSpeak.com.
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