Human Trafficking Bill & Rally at the State Capitol

We have just learned that a bill on human trafficking will be filed on Wednesday, February 1st (National Freedom Day), and there will be a press conference that afternoon to announce the bill and raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking in Kentucky. The press conference will be held in the State Capitol rotunda at 1:15 p.m., and should conclude by 2 p.m. 

Among other points, the bill will:
– Establish a special prosecution division within the Kentucky State Police to identify and investigate those involved in human trafficking
– Provide law enforcement with forfeiture and seizure powers for human trafficking offenders, similar to drug trafficking laws
– Establish a trust fund with portions going to the prosecution division and to the victims themselves
– Provide for increased penalties for those who would attempt to purchase children from $500 to $10,000 with those proceeds also going into a victims fund.

Kentucky WMU has been contacted about this effort by Marissa Castellanos, Human Trafficking Program Manager, of Catholic Charities of Louisville, a parter with Kentucky Rescue and Restore.  We featured a speaker from Kentucky Rescue and Restore at our 2010 summer WMU training and again at our 2011 Annual Meeting.  She will be at the rally along with others who are passionate about this issue.

With our WMU emphasis on Project HELP: Human Exploitation, this is an important opportunity for us to join with others in standing against human trafficking in Kentucky. Please come if you can, and also pass this information on to others you know who may be interested in attending the press conference.  

If you are able to attend on Wednesday, we have been requested to:
– Arrive around 1 p.m., so that the press conference can begin promptly at 1:15 p.m.
– Wear the color teal in solidarity of the issue of human trafficking, or wear a t-shirt that mentions human trafficking/ child sexual exploitation

To help the planners of the press conference, if you plan to attend, please drop me an email: [email protected].  I will pass this information on.

Even if you are not able to attend, please pray for this bill and for all who are working together to stop human exploitation in Kentucky.  Please let others know that the bill is being filed and urge support.  Human trafficking is real and it is happening in our communities.  Let’s join with others in this important effort.

Mission Action Includes Efforts to Correct Social and Moral Problems

At the recent National WMU January Board Meeting, we approved a revision of an important document that impacts our work in WMU.  Called the Church Base Design, this document provides the frame of reference for WMU, defining our objectives and how we will do our work.  All of the printed materials from national WMU that churches use, such as leader guides and curriculum, are based on this foundational document.

As we are inundated by the calls for expanded gambling in Kentucky as well as host of other social and moral issues, I returned to this document.  I was reminded that what we call mission action includes efforts to correct social and moral problems.  Here is a portion of the section on mission action:

“Mission action is a direct and personal way to express a church’s belief that all people need God and must come to Him through Jesus Christ. Through mission action a church can identify itself as a ministering body and demonstrate concern for people who are separated from God. 

“To meet a person’s needs in Christ’s name calls for positive and practical action. The ultimate goal is to bring the person into a relationship with Jesus Christ that leads to her or his acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. In some situations, the witness may be indirect and in others it may take time to gain the confidence of the person being helped to the point that she or he will be open to a presentation of the gospel.

“In mission action, believers care for the whole person and have a concern for the spiritual, mental, social, emotional, and physical welfare of people. The needs to be met may relate to efforts to correct social and moral problems that victimize people.”

WMU efforts through Project HELP are based on our concept of mission action, which includes both direct ministry and advocacy to combat the problems.  Our currect Project HELP: Human Exploitation is such an effort.

Right now we in WMU need to take efforts to stand against expanded gambling seriously.  How can we support government efforts to promote an industry that makes its money on the financial losses of our citizens?  For state government to reap the touted tax benefits (which are overstated), it would require the citizens of Kentucky to lose millions of dollars.  I do not believe the families of our state can or should afford those losses.  

In WMU we need to speak out about all social and moral issues which victimize children.   When adults gamble, children are often victimized.  When adults use drugs, children are often neglected.  When adults drink and drive, children are often hurt. 

I have been approached about joining in the effort to cap the interest rates on the predatory lenders known for Payday Loans. Here are a few statistics:  Data shows that Kentucky payday lenders keep borrowers indebted  for 160 days a year on average, much longer that the advertised 2-week loan. Kentucky payday lenders charge $15.00 per $100 borrowed, plus additional fees every two weeks. This means payday loans carry at least a 391% APR.  A typical Kentucky payday borrower was trapped in 10 payday transactions in 2010, typically taken out back-to-back, thus costing $529 in fees alone for a $317 loan.  Despite marketing claims of a short term loan, payday lenders depend on these long term, repeat users. Over 90% of payday loan revenue is generated by borrowers with five or more loans a year. 

If you are against the victimization of the poor through predatory payday lending, contact your state representative and urge support of a bill to cap interest rates at 36%.    Learn more at: http://kyresponsiblelending.wordpress.com/

Combatting social and moral problems includes involvement in stopping human trafficking, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, pornography, and the list goes on.  These problems seem overwhelming, yet WMU is a mighty army.  Will we unite?  Will we speak out or take the route of apathy?  Will we invite speakers to our churches who can educate our people about the issues and the consequences that are at stake?  Will we spend time praying for God’s intervention?

I am an absolute novice in the political world.  My only foray was in 2008 to participate in a WAGE Rally. Women Against Gambling Expansion spoke up, wrote letters, and were a part of the resistance effort which has stalled expanded gambling (and don’t be fooled by the word gaming – it’s all gambling) in Kentucky.  My involvement even now is not about politics.  I simply go back to the foundational document for WMU, the Base Design, and see that mission action includes our efforts to correct social and moral problems.  Expanded gambling will create more problems than any tax revenue it generates.  Payday loans that take advantage of people create more problems for the people who need help.  Expanded alcohol sales create more opportunities for alcohol abuse and drunk driving accidents. 

There are a variety of web sites and other resources to help you.  I would encourage you to visit the Kentucky Baptist Convention Committee on Public Affairs web site (http://www.kbcpublicaffairs.org/).  There you will get updates on legislative activity, ways to respond, and links to other resources.  You can also subscribe to receive updates by email. 

Scripture is clear about dishonesty, greed, the victimization of the poor, and justice.  Here are just a few references.  There are many, many more.  Proverbs 11:1 – “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord.”  Proverbs 12:11 – “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.”  Of King Jehoiakim in Jeremiah 22:17 – “But you have eyes and heart for nothing except your own unjust gain.”  Hosea 2:9 – “Woe to him who unjustly gains wealth for his house.”

Pray.  Seek God in these matters.  Then act.  Your voice counts!

Project HELP: Human Exploitation

Human Exploitation is defined by WMU as “the unethical, selfish use of human beings for the satisfaction of personal desires and/or profitable advantage.”  There is no doubt that it is a world-wide problem, including right here in Kentucky.  WMU is seeking to raise awareness and get churches involved in combating the problems and providing ministry to victims through Project HELP: Human Exploitation.

Kentucky WMU has available an interactive Project HELP: Human Exploitation display which encourages people to learn about the six issues addressed in Project HELP: Human Exploitation.  These include:
• Bullying, Cyberbullying, Queen Bee Bullying
• Human Trafficking—Labor
• Human Trafficking—Sex
• Media’s Exploitation of Families and Children
• Exploitation of Natural Resources for Personal Gain
• Pornography

In addition to the WMU emphasis, there are others who are working to educate and prevent human exploitation.  January is the national Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention month.  P.A.T.H. (Partnership Against the Trafficking of Humans) is a victim-centered partnership of professional and community organizations devoted to the Prevention of human trafficking through education and training; protecting victims through rescue and holistic services; and ensuring the prosecution of traffickers through legal advocacy.  

P.A.T.H. is a co-sponsor of the 5th Annual Human Trafficking Conference for the Greater Cincinnati Area on Friday, February 3, 2012.  The conference, which is also provided by End Slavery Cincinnati and other sponsors, includes a variety of conferences to help participants understand the issues and know steps for combating sex trafficking.  Conference topics include:
International Red Cross & Human Trafficking
Dimensions of Recovery for HT Survivors
Demand Reductions & Prevention of Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking 101 – The Basics
Red Flags / Screening / Identification
Tune In to Local – Learn about REAL Local Cases
Responding to HT Survivors in Health Care Settings (Nursing CEUs available)
Motivation Interviewing with HT Survivors
Including Sex Workers in Combating Sex Trafficking

Cost of this conference is $50 for individuals, $40 each for groups (minimum of 3), $15 for students.  Registration due by January 20, 2012 and fees increase by $10 after that date based on availability. 

During National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month, I encourage you to learn more about Project HELP: Human Exploitation.  Lead your church to do something to take a stand and support ministries such as P.A.T.H. that reach out to victims.  Make your church aware of human trafficking right here in Kentucky.   The following videos on You Tube highlight the problem.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AU7GOuwzpzU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LlpCSJmvVw

Human Exploitation is all around us.  Take a stand.

Happy New Year!

It is January 1.  I wish you and yours a Happy New Year!  I pray that this will be a year that you set and keep spiritual resolutions.  After telling a local newspaper reporter that I did not have any resolutions, that changed this morning as I was reading another lesson in With Christ in the School of Prayer.  There I was reminded that while Jesus taught us how to pray, he gave very few instructions about what to pray, except to pray for laborers in the harvest.  So that is my resolution for the year, to pray consistently, daily for laborers in the harvest.  I will be praying for more missionaries, and for helpers for our missionaries.  I will be praying for teachers for children and for volunteers for ministries which meet needs and share Christ.  I will be praying for more people to be courageous and share Christ with neighbors and coworkers.  I will be praying for the gospel to be taken to those who have never heard.

Today I started a new prayer journal and began reading the January issue of Missions Mosaic.  As is my custom, I peruse the entire magazine on the first day of the month, then settle in with the prayer calendar.  I’m always pleased when Kentucky missionaries are featured.  In this issue we have a two page spread! On page 10 there is the story of The Lord’s Cafe at the Crossroads Community Baptist Church in McCreary County.  Grant Hasty, missionary, shared the story of how God is using this food ministry to reach the community.

On page 11 there is a story about George and Cathy Chinn, who were appointed in 2011 as the regional coordinators for the Mississippi River Ministry (MRM).  The story tells about some of the people the Chinn’s have met in their travels to promote MRM.  They are working to learn about needs throughout the region and match volunteers with those needs.  They are also very excited about FamilyFEST, July 7-13, 2012 in Memphis, Tennessee.  George and Cathy will be on the program at the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting, March 23-24 at Beacon Hill Baptist Church in Somerset.  Our Friday evening session includes an “East Meets West” feature, highlighting the work of MRM and ARM (Appalachian Regional Ministry).

The Kentucky WMU staff will be reading and studying With Christ in the School of Prayer during the month of January.  There are 31 lessons and 31 days in the month.  We invite you to join us.  If you have a Kindle, there are several editions of the book available.  Several have a small charge.  One is free and is listed as “Lord, Teach Us to Pray” (ASIN: B004TIJJOW).   Several other editions sell for just 99 cents.  I like both the illustrated, annotated edition (ASIN: B004S7ASYO) and an edition from Heritage Bible Fellowship (ASIN: B00550OYSY).   I am sure there are digital editions of this classic by Andrew Murry with the other e-book vendors as well.   Print copies are a bit harder to come by but are available. 

Happy New Year!  May your reading, praying, and service to the Lord be blessed.