5 Things to Start in 2014

New Year’s celebrations started as a pagan tradition, worshiping Janus (a two-faced god who looks backward into the old year and forward into the new) thought to be the protector of beginnings and endings. During the Roman reign, it was not uncommon to see statues set atop bridge columns where passersby would touch the head for good luck.

After Christ, Christians sought to redeem the new year custom by replacing idol worship with a time of fasting and praying. Famous Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards took resolution-making to new heights, recording 70 resolutions which he reviewed weekly. In contrast to the Romans, Edwards knew his ability to keep such resolutions was dependent upon the grace and will of Christ Jesus.

In the same vein, this new year brings us an opportunity to, by the grace of God, keep that which he has commanded, such as defending the oppressed. Here are five resolutions to start in 2014:

1. Start Praying. 

Human trafficking is a problem of evil. It reflects a powerful clash of spiritual forces. Every believer of Jesus Christ should be greatly disturbed when they learn about exploitation of any kind, because it’s the temporal advancement of evil. Traffickers and pimps, johns and madams, porn purveyors and consumers have declared war on God and His creation. They have set their minds to the things of the flesh and – make no mistake – the only outcome is death. They are in desperate need of a new heart and the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ alone.

Because of Christ’s work, our Father hears our petitions and responds to them all in his good and perfect will. Although the problem of sexual exploitation is massive, we do not have to lose heart. God tells us that, “this is the confidence which we have before him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14). We know His will is to set captives free, as declared in His Word, so boldly ask Him to move in the hearts of men and women in our city; ask that exploitation would no longer reign, but that women would be honored as the children of God. Likewise, ask him to heal the broken hearted and lead the oppressed to find rest in Jesus.

2. Start Counting the Cost. 

I was in junior high when I first heard about Nazi genocide and the mass killing of 11 million people. Although the number was too large for me to appreciate, I remember asking my teacher how Adolf Hitler was able to kill so many people in just a few years. “Why didn’t anyone stop him?” His answer was disillusioning; he said that Hitler was partly able to run rampant for years, because most nations were fatigued from WWI and the cost of going to war felt too high.

It’s not unlike the place many of us stand today. We feel pulled in too many directions, we believe the opposition is too great and we are resigned to the idea that, although trafficking is horrible, engaging in battle is too costly. So, like the millions enslaved in Nazi concentration camps, today millions of people all over the world are enslaved in brothels and hotel rooms, on porn sets and in invisible prisons of poverty and chemical and relational dependence.

Will you count the cost of a world where women and children are bought and sold like commodities? Will you consider the prevalence of violence in porn and its affect on behavior and attitudes towards women? One recent study reports 68% of men view porn weekly and, of the top 50 most popular porn videos, 81% depicted violence against women. These men are doctors, judges, teachers and members of Congress. What will it cost you, your mom, your sister or daughter, when the men in our culture, those who are in positions of power, no longer see the intrinsic value of women, but see them as objects to be used to gratify their sexual urges?

3. Start Serving.

If you live in the Seattle-area, join us at our next REST Training Day to learn more about the dynamics of sex trafficking, the sex industry in Seattle; and direct outreach with girls, women, and men. Attending a REST Training Day is the first step to becoming a REST volunteer. We have all sorts of positions, from direct outreach to support services.

If you are on the east coast or interested in international human trafficking and how to begin serving, attend an IJM Conference, Love 146 event, or Shared Hope film screening of Chosen to find abolitionist groups near you.

4. Start Giving. 

Support local organizations working against sexual exploitation. At REST, an ongoing monthly gift will immediately begin providing vital resources to victims of sex trafficking in our area. Christmas was just a few days ago and a time when we remember that we’ve been given the greatest gift of all, Immanuel, God with us. If we, who have been given everything in Christ, are not generous to those in greatest need, we have forgotten all that we have received in Christ. We have been justified by his grace, made heirs with Christ and have hope of eternal life. Because of the riches with which we have been entrusted, we can devote ourselves to doing good, no longer storing up the things of this world, but laying up our treasures in heaven.

5. Start Talking. 

Speak up! Sin grows in the dark, but Christians are called to live in the light. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Talk to your friends, church and community members about the evils of sexual exploitation. Invite your friends over to watch a movie on human trafficking and begin a group committed to praying, serving and giving. Write to your political representatives to let them know you support legislation and funding designed to help trafficking victims. Perhaps the easiest way to begin using your voice is to become a social ambassador for REST by following us on Facebook and Twitter and liking, sharing and re-tweeting new stories, so that those in your spheres of influence hear and join our efforts.

Wishing you a joyous 2014! May God grace us with the ability to care well for those who have been commercially sexually exploited.