Baptists Team Up to Combat Domestic Human Trafficking

Many are surprised to learn that human trafficking is a problem within the U.S. (Creative Commons photo)
Many are surprised to learn that human trafficking is a problem within the U.S. (Creative Commons photo)

Efforts also are underway to educate more churches and individiuals about the scope of the problem, which some incorrectly believe is only an overseas one.

Although sometimes portrayed as a problem found in other nations, human trafficking also occurs in large numbers in the United States.

The FBI includes St. Louis as one of the top 20 trafficking cities in the U.S., and governmental groups have also identified Kansas City as a hub. In addition to efforts to prevent trafficking and prosecute those responsible, Baptists see a need for ministry to survivors.

Rodney Hammer, executive director of missions for Blue River-Kansas City Baptist Association, is passionate about Christians working to stop human trafficking and ministering to its victims.

Hammer, who spent 18 years with the International Mission Board in China and Southeast Asia and in Central and Eastern Europe, said he “first saw the problem and heard about the problem overseas” so it “was already on my heart” when moving to Kansas City. At first, though, he “didn’t realize we had such a huge domestic trafficking problem.”

But that definitely changed.

“I began to become more aware of the problem here locally as I moved around our association and looked at the community-wide problems that missionally we can prayerfully work on,” he said. “It was when I began to hear personal stories and real examples of the devastation of what’s happening so pervasively right under our noses.”

Hammer noted “now people order sex with a child like they order a pizza” by simply going online, picking what they want and then waiting for the delivery.

“It’s disgusting; it’s horrific,” he said. “It’s also very motivating.”

With that motivation, the BRKC in May of 2015 launched a new ministry to help survivors of trafficking.

The Restoration House of Greater Kansas City seeks to fill “a gap for residential services.” It offers 24-hour care, trauma and addiction counseling, educational classes and life skills training. Hammer said they “offer a long-term, holistic, Christ-centered program of recovery.”

It has already served 16 young women.

“Our goal is to offer an opportunity for hope, for healing, for restoration,” he said. “We’ll take anybody — all kinds of folks who’ve had their lives stolen from them.”

Faith can be shared, too.

“We don’t force it but we’ll offer anyone the healing of Christ,” he added. “Our goal is to see a gospel transformation.”

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SOURCE: Baptist News Global
Brian Kaylor