Something’s brewing. I don’t know exactly what it is, but God is at work. I have a part to play in ending injustice.
That’s how I felt after watching the new movie “Sound of Freedom.” It’s the story of a Homeland Security agent who risks his own life to rescue children from the devastating cycle of human trafficking. At the end of the movie, one of the actors talked about the pivotal role of storytellers. They control the whole narrative, he said. In that moment, I sensed God speaking to my heart: You have a story and you’re going to tell it.
Ending human trafficking has been part of my story for six years. Ironically, it was a different movie that first sparked the passion in me. I was 14 when I saw “Priceless,” a movie that grapples with the reality of human trafficking. I walked out of the movie theater feeling like I was supposed to do something, like I couldn’t walk away and not do anything.
But because I was only 14, I didn’t feel like there was anything I really could do. Until I started praying. As I wondered why this burden wasn’t going away, God began to impress on my heart a simple instruction: walk.
I remembered hearing about a boy who walked hundreds of miles to raise awareness about homelessness. It was then I had the idea to walk to Mexico. My mom will never say yes to that, I thought. However, when I finally asked her about it, she immediately got out her calculator to determine how many miles it would be and how long it would take. We quickly ruled out a journey that long, but we kept praying. We decided I would walk to Nashville, home of Hope for Justice, the anti-trafficking organization I would be raising money for. Walking to Nashville meant I could deliver the donation in person.
Over 27 days, I walked 302 miles. I walked by myself, but I wasn’t alone. My mom and siblings followed me, pulling a camper behind our car. As soon as we got back home to Arthur, my legs were itching to do something else. This time, I rode my bike from Mexico to Canada, accompanied by two of my siblings and a cousin.
A few years later, I had the opportunity to go to India, where I spent nine months teaching English to children in a red-light district. Our goal was to break the cycle of trafficking before it even started for them, by providing education and eventually, a way out of poverty.
I had only been back in Illinois a few weeks when I saw “Sound of Freedom.” And there was that buzzing again. The desire to help people feel safe and loved. The anger and grief that anyone can look at a child and have such malicious intent toward them. I can’t just stand by when people are being treated like livestock. I can’t afford to do nothing.
The church can’t either. We have an opportunity right now to end the injustice of human trafficking at home and across the world. We can give to organizations that are engaged in the work. We can commit to teach our children a biblical view of sexuality, acknowledging our own country is one of the largest consumers in the trafficking industry.
Perhaps most important and most immediate, we can love people in our communities who are desperate for acceptance and security and therefore more susceptible to those who would do them harm. We, all of us, have a part in this story.
Lindsey Yoder is a member of Arthur Southern Baptist Church in Arthur, Ill. Read about her 300-mile walk to Nashville in 2017 here.