A couple of weeks ago an observant Uber driver in my town rescued a 16 year old girl from being a victim of sex trafficking.

During one of his shifts, Keith Avila picked up the girl and two older women. One of the passengers told the driver to drop them off at a hotel, which is just a mile from where I live. Upon overhearing the conversation from the back seat, the driver sensed that the girl was in danger and in need of help. After dropping off the three passengers at their destination, the brave driver called the police, who responded quickly and were able to save the teen.

Because I live in the town where this incident occurred, I was able to picture the sights and sounds that the poor girl might have seen during that long ride to an impending doom. I could see the “Donuts and Yogurt” sign my daughter and I used to joke about (it’s such an unusual food combination), the bustling restaurants, and the police station. One time, during a church photo treasure hunt, we had to stop at the police station to take a photo of ourselves being “handcuffed” by a police officer. All the sights that conjured fun memories for us, must have created horrible memories for this poor victim. How could this have happened in my own neighborhood?

Human trafficking is the modern slavery. There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history.

The International Labor Organization estimated in 2016 that children represented 26 percent (or 5.5 Million) of the 21 million victims worldwide. Both U.S. citizens and foreign national children are trafficked for sex and labor in the United States. In fact, many child victims of human trafficking are students in the American school system. No community, whether urban, rural or suburban is immune.

Typically the rescue rate is less than 1% of the actual trafficked population.

This brings to mind, William Wilberforce, who worked tirelessly to abolish slavery in the 1700’s. After experiencing a spiritual rebirth and some very serious self-examination, Wilberforce began to see his life’s purpose. Under the influence of Thomas Clarkson, he became absorbed with the issue of slavery. Later he wrote, “So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the trade’s wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for abolition. Let the consequences be what they would: I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.”

I’m sure you all would agree that modern-day human trafficking is just as abhorrent. Please pray that some of us will never rest until this dreadful practice is abolished. Pray that we all become educated to recognize the signs of this evil. One small act of awareness may someday save someone’s life.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. Luke 4:18