Human trafficking -- 'each of us can do something'

B&H Publishing Group photo
NEW YORK CITY (BP) -- Raleigh Sadler knows what it's like to feel helpless in the face of human trafficking. He's almost certain he's witnessed someone being trafficked right in front of him.

Ironically when it happened, Sadler was on the way home from an event where he spoke about how to fight human trafficking.

He was waiting for a train in New York City, and there was "something different" about a woman near him -- she seemed high, but it seemed that there was more going on than just drugs. While he stood there trying to piece it together, the train doors opened and a man appeared out of nowhere, grabbed her by the arm and yanked her violently onto the train.

"As the train pulled away, my senses came to me and I began realizing what had happened," Sadler recounts in a new book, "Vulnerable: Rethinking Human Trafficking," a February 2019 release from B&H Publishing Group.

The realization broke him.

Raleigh Sadler
BP file photo

"I had failed," Sadler wrote. "I was seen as an authority on human trafficking, and when the chips were down, I failed to respond."

That moment was part of the journey he's been on since God broke his heart at a 2012 Passion conference in Atlanta. There at the conference, human exploitation seemed like a problem too big to tackle. He was too far removed from it, and he had no clue where to start.

But while he sat there at Passion, God began to speak to Sadler that he had to do something. Over time he followed that call, moved to New York City and began working with the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association. In 2016 he started Let My People Go, a nonprofit organization aimed at helping churches fight human trafficking.

A lot of people are "just like me," Sadler said of writing a book. "They want to do something about this big injustice and the pain that people around them are experiencing, but they have no idea what to do or where to start."

In Vulnerable, Sadler tells his own stories of feeling helpless and how God has given him a heart to stop trafficking at the root.

That's what he does through Let My People Go -- he educates churches and individuals about exploitation and introduces them to ways they can love the people around them, who are vulnerable to trafficking.

Sadler continues that mission in the book by walking readers through ways they can get involved in long-term ministry both personally and through their church.

He also gives immediate practical helps -- an appendix called "100 Ways You Can Fight Human Trafficking Today" gives intentional steps to fight trafficking right where readers are.

A few of those are:

-- Don't let the enormity of the problem overwhelm you. Start with caring for the person in front of you.

-- Learn about the vulnerable populations in your community with the Distressed Communities Index (see http://eig.org/dci).

-- Volunteer in a prison system or spend time working at survivor housing, survivor community centers or a program for victim rehabilitation and create relationships that can change someone's future.

-- Buy socially minded products and gifts that support the abolition movement or provide relief to victims or potential victims.

"Throughout the book I use stories, statistics and other things to really show that each of us can do something," Sadler said. "We may not be able to combat the whole issue by ourselves, but if we will approach vulnerable people around us, we'll find ourselves engaging people who have been or could be trafficked."

Taylor Combs, publisher of Christian living and leadership for B&H Publishing Group, said B&H felt it is an important topic to address.

"Human trafficking, in all its forms, is an assault on the image of God in women and men," Combs said. "Raleigh and his organization have faithfully equipped many Christians to respond to this crisis, and it's an honor for us to jump in and serve alongside him in what God is already doing." B&H Publishing Group is the trade books division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Among the endorsers of the book, John Stonestreet, president of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, wrote that Sadler "describes with vivid clarity one of the hardest arenas of our modern world. But, like the sound guide he is, Raleigh points to where and how the church can bring the light and life of Christ."

Stonestreet said the church "is at its best, and is living out the redemptive realities of the gospel most fully, when it is running toward the vulnerable and broken with truth, hope and grace, rather than remaining in safety and comfort."

To learn more about Vulnerable, visit raleighsadler.com/vulnerable.

Grace Thornton is a writer based in Birmingham, Ala.
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