Stop Human Trafficking Through Housing

October 17, 2013 by Gayla Congdon

human trafficking

This issue of trafficking has become a part of an international dialogue because it is now one of the largest criminal enterprises in the world along with illegal arms and the drug trade. Human trafficking is “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or the giving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” (source)

Unfortunately enslaving people is not a new phenomenon. It has been going on throughout history as we can see from reading the Bible. In the Old Testament books of the law God makes his feelings on slavery known in this passage in Deuteronomy 23:15-16 where he entrusts his people to protect those that have been enslaved, “If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand him over to his master. Let him live among you wherever he likes and in whatever town he chooses. Do not oppress him.”

So you may be asking yourself “why am I focusing so much on human trafficking when Amor is an organization that primarily builds houses?”

Over an annual lunch with some of my buddies from Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church, including National Advisory Board member Dave Ricketts, at a taco shop in the community of El Nino, I was asked if Amor was being confronted with any trafficking issues.

There are two things you should know about Amor’s strategy for ministry. 1) We don’t just jump into an issue because we want to please our donors. 2) But we do believe if a partner asks us a question like the team from MVPC did over lunch, we will look into it to see if there is a connection to what we are doing.

And that is what I did. Over the past several years since that lunch at El Nino I have taken the time to learn about trafficking with a special emphasis on whether or not Amor should be involved.

This eNews along with my most recent blog post is part of our discussion about trafficking and Amor’s journey to address this issue as it intersects with our desire to see the world housed.

Amor wants to expand this discussion with our audience. We have found a significant connection to homelessness and it is why Amor has to be involved. It is not something that we can take on in just one eNews so it will be an ongoing coversation about this heinous crime against those that are the most vulnerable in our world. Please follow my blog series, Defender of the Weak, on the Amor blog to learn more about “human trafficking as one of the greatest human rights challenges of this century, both in the United States and around the world.” (source)

It really did begin over that lunch a few years ago. I thought maybe Juarez had been affected and so I looked into that first. As I did research on this topic there was one thing that kept coming up and it was the connection of those being trafficked lacking housing. And as we interviewed those throughout India that were being trafficked, they confirmed that if they had a home then their chances of being trafficked would have been reduced significantly.

As Amor addresses this connection between homelessness and trafficking we will be partnering with Oasis USA and STOP THE TRAFFIK. On this most recent trip to India, Ruth Dearnley, CEO of STOP THE TRAFFIK came to me and said that the connection between these two things is so overwhelmingly evident that Amor should look at the more than 17,000 houses we have built as that many families who have been prevented from being trafficked!

STOP THE TRAFFIK, Australia is headed up by Fuzz and Carolyn Kitto. Carolyn is my co-leader on our Women of Strength trips. Their connection to Amor runs deep as they have been bringing groups with us to Mexico for more than 10 years.

This is what Carolyn said about Amor in relation to our most recent trip to India:

“Amor is committed to making the world a safer place for vulnerable families, women and children through house building. I imagine that 80% of people who are trafficked are also homeless. Homes are essential in disrupting trafficking,”

Every website I looked at on trafficking says the same: There are an estimatated 20 to 30 million people worldwide in some form of modern slavery. Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. More than 70% women and girls, and up to half are minors. (source) With that in mind, and the believed connection to homelessness, there could be up to 24 million people homeless AND trafficked! What can we do?

Amor has already begun. Many of you shop in the Amor Store and, especially our participants from the UK, love to buy chocolate. We never really understood how chocolate came to us, but watch this video and you will understand why Amor had to take action immediately.

LaDonna Barron came home last summer from South Africa, and after hearing Carolyn talk about STOP THE TRAFFIK and their chocolate campaign she realized that Amor could do something now, so she began her own campaign to make the Amor Store traffic free. Many of us on staff, including myself thought we couldn’t do it by spring and yet this is what we did

We only sold chocolate that was being made by the Mars company that has a fair trade plan in place. In order to hold them accountable LaDonna has been on the phone often enough with them that I believe they recognize her voice! And she hasn’t stopped there. LaDonna won’t be happy until our t-shirts are made with fair trade cotton. You can familiarize yourself with these two campaigns by going to the STOP THE TRAFFIK website.

What we love about working with Oasis USA and STOP THE TRAFFIK is their commitment to prevention. We are convinced that housing is a part of that and as we begin this discussion with you please pray that God gives us the strategies to house the world.

During the trip to India I began to expand my framework of the house and keeping families together. My epiphany was seeing the Amor house as four strong walls that not only keep the family together but protects the family from traffickers that want to destroy the fiber of the families in the house.

To start this discussion, I would like to ask you to take this survey on slavery. You may be surprised when you see the results.

In the next months in my blog series I will be discussing our commitment to the prevention of trafficking through housing. We will look at what Amor plans to do at our Cienega campus in the Yucatan about setting up traffic free communities as well as challenging missionaries worldwide to pay fair wages to the indigenous workers they hire in the countries they serve. This discussion is just beginning and Amor is just getting started in partnering with others to prevent this from growing and believing that God wants us to eradicate the exploitation of his people.

Please ask yourself how you can help Amor Stop Human Trafficking through Housing!

Topics: Gayla Congdon, Biblical Justice


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