It’s the time of year when families gather to give gifts and celebrate the joy of Christmas. Lights twinkle on the tree and the smell of pies and cider fill our homes. But there’s a darker side to this season, one that often goes unnoticed amid the festivities. Let’s look at one example.
Saddie had worked as a prostitute for more than six years. A victim of sex trafficking, her body had been sold more times than she could count. But as Saddie had gotten older, she started to make less and less income. Now her trafficker had left her out on the street. She was all alone and prayed, God, show me a sign that you’re real. If you don’t, I’m going to end my life.
That’s when the text arrived: Hi there, I know we don’t know each other, but I’m with a group of women who care about you. We love you, and we’re here with resources if you need them.
A few hours after she received that text message from a volunteer at our ministry, Scarlet Hope, Saddie was sitting in our resource center sharing her story. She felt unworthy, unloved and broken, but God—through his people—stepped in to rescue. Slowly she emerged from the darkness she’d endured.
According to the U.S. Department of State, 27.6 million people worldwide are trapped in modern-day slavery through human trafficking. This includes vulnerable individuals who are subjected to forced labor as well as those forced to work in the sex trade. It’s a global crisis that knows no borders, and incidents of the crime tend to peak each year around the NFL’s Super Bowl.
Recognizing the gravity of this evil, Pres. Joe Biden proclaimed January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, but long before the government recognized the crisis, Christian ministries around the world have worked tirelessly to help victims like Saddie escape exploitation.
Like so many other ministries, our staff and volunteers at Scarlet Hope are on the frontlines every day, witnessing the pain and suffering that too many women endure. This holiday season, your church can join them in the fight.
Identifying Women at Risk
One crucial method Scarlet Hope uses to fight sex trafficking is through training programs that equip men and women in businesses and the local church to identify signs of trafficking and to know how to respond.
Some indicators of sex trafficking include the following:
- Poor living conditions, or living with an employer
- Submissive or fearful demeanor
- Inability to speak or meet with someone outside the employer’s presence
- Giving answers that appear to be scripted or rehearsed
- Working in prostitution before age 18
When such indicators are observed, it’s appropriate to ask questions like, Can you leave your job if you want to? Can you come and go as you please? Are you in debt to your employer? Do you have your own identification in your possession?
Next, you can report concerns by contacting the National Human Trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888.
Serving through Outreach and Care
In Matthew 25:40, Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” When we go to the darkest corners of the world to offer a message of redemption, forgiveness, and a fresh start, we’re sharing Christ’s love with his dear ones. We’re modeling outrageous obedience—demonstrating that faith isn’t just about words but about actions. By extending a helping hand to survivors, each one of us exemplifies the teachings of Jesus, who reached out to the marginalized and offered them hope and salvation. When we help the hurting and invite in the stranger, we share Christ’s love with potential members of his body.
As we approach the holiday season and the Super Bowl, it’s essential to remember that human trafficking doesn’t take a break. In fact, it often thrives during these times. The increased demand for commercial sex and forced labor creates an environment where victims are especially vulnerable.
Thankfully there’s hope and help available for those trapped in the cycle of exploitation. During this season, ministries organize programs and events designed to bring a sense of normalcy and joy to survivors of human trafficking. These initiatives help hurting women find strength and hope, reminding them that they’re not alone on their healing journey. Your church can be part of it.
As you celebrate the season of giving, don’t forget these women who are longing for freedom, healing, and the opportunity to experience the true meaning of the holidays. Join us as we seek to shine God’s light into the darkest corners of our world.
Rachelle Starr founded Scarlet Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to sharing the hope of Jesus with women in the adult entertainment industry. Learn more at ScarletHope.org.