At the beginning of this NFL season, there was an angry protest over amateur referees. It took a blown call in a nationally televised game to show how bad the problem was. It was addressed and the professional officials soon returned to the games.
I understand fans anger over poor officiating. What I dont understand is why the public isnt as angry over much more important issues in the world. One that puzzles me the most is our apparent ennui toward the ever-burgeoning industry of sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking is the act of recruiting, transporting, harboring or receiving a person for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Its a multi-million dollar industry involving thousands of mostly young women and children.
Internationally, a young woman or child is typically taken to a city or foreign country to earn money for her poor family. Or she could have been kidnapped. Once there, she is locked into a hotel room. Shes offered to men. The traffickers then try to get her addicted to drugs for continual abuse. When done, shes no longer held by force but necessity.
Its also an American problem. Usually they have an absent, alcoholic and/or abusive father. A man then enters her life, offering attention, perceived love, financial support and/or gifts. This is called the baiting period. Often the girls even call him, Daddy. Once trust is garnered, the man requests a favor. She is offered to another man. This is when the sex trafficking begins. Once fully indoctrinated into this lifestyle, its extremely difficult to leave because of false loyalty to the pimp, poverty, drug addiction and/or a criminal record.
They are especially trafficked to major, national events like the DNC, the RNC, the Super Bowl, the World Series or the Final Four where single men and men without their wives demand this depraved entertainment.
Its also a Charlotte problem. Because of our busy airport and our location near or next to major interstates, we are a destination for sex trafficking. North Carolina ranks in the top ten states for sex trafficking. These girls live among us.
I would have questioned this assessment until recently. Ive met two brave, courageous young women who once were involved in this sordid industry. Im actually interviewing them today on my radio program on WBT AM (8 a.m. and rebroadcast at 9 p.m.)
The first is named Antonia Childs, affectionately known as Neet. She was seduced into the sex industry at the age of 16. Raised by a single Mom, Neet met a 35-year-old college graduate. He started showering her with gifts, money and attention. She fell in love with him. Several months later, he asked for a favor, to sleep with a friend. If you love me, youll do this, he said. She did, thus beginning a spiral downward into the dark world of sex trafficking.
Eventually, God used a friend to encourage Neet to leave this lifestyle. Courageously, she did. She now runs Neets Sweets, a bakery that employs survivors of sex trafficking.
The other is named Jillian Mourning. She is an attractive woman, seduced into the industry with promises of fame through modeling. After some success, she was taken to another state for a job. She entered a room with her agent, only to find several men. The door was locked behind her. She was raped. The dastardly deed was videotaped. Her agent told her from now on she needed to be available for him any time in the future. If not, he would expose the videos to her family and the world. The arrangement continued for many months. Finally, the agent was arrested for another crime and sentenced to prison. She was free. She too has now courageously stepped forward to share her story. Shes formed a non-profit organization called All We Want is Love to help young women caught in sex trafficking, both locally and globally.
What can you do? January 11-12, 2013 Forest Hill Church in Charlotte will host The Ignite Justice Conference. There will be a speaker from A-21, a powerful anti-trafficking organization. For specifics go to www.ignitejusticeconference.org.
Immediately, you can go to www.ijm.com for facts and information.
Once you learn about it, throw a party and invite your friends so they too can learn. And be sure to feed your guests from Neets Sweets ( www.NeetsSweets.com).
There is a time in life to be angry. But not about NFL officials, especially when there are much greater problems in the world.
Sex trafficking is one of them.
David Chadwick is senior pastor at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte.
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