Last Thursday a group of us attended a lunch gathering in Atlanta to learn about an alliance of churches dedicated to eliminating the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the greater Atlanta area called "Street Grace". It was a sobering experience.
My awareness of this disturbing issue has grown in recent years because of my involvement with Freedom Firm in India. We typically associate human trafficking with countries like Thailand and India.What may surprise you is how prevalent the sexual trafficking of children is in our own back yard here in Atlanta.
- Studies have shown that between 200-300 young girls are trafficked each month...in Georgia.
- The city of Atlanta has been identified as the focal point for much of this activity and Atlanta is consistenly named as one of the worst cities globally .
- The average age of child sexual exploitation appears to be 14, but girls as young as 10 and 11 have been exploited.
As you might imagine the easy target for sexual expoitation are girls who run away from home and become easy targets for such abuse. What took my breath away was learning how many of girls are simply abducted from malls and local communities, relocated, drugged and forced into commercial exploitation.
I'm thrilled to see the church on the front line of this issue in Atlanta. Grace Church has taken some good strides this year in establishing a compassionate presence in our community. We also have a number of people serving at Wellspring - a partner with Street Grace in addessing this issue. In the coming year I hope we begin to find a voice in our community raising awareness and becoming an advocate for causes such as this.
For those who would like to lean more about Street Grace go to www.streetgrace.org
Fighting for your hearts,