Imagine dipping a fragrant, blossoming red rose into a vat of slimy mud, then pulling it out and letting it dry. The next day, and the next, repeat. Day in and day out, the mud caked petals would soon fall and the essence of the beauty would be stolen, yet the flower's core remains. Its' DNA is still a rose, but circumstances have drastically altered its' future.
No metaphor can truly exemplify the torturous, yet profitable, treatment endured by young girls and boys ensnared in the human and sex trafficking web. Yet during Super Bowl week, leading up to the Big Game, the sex trade industry will be at a fever pitch. While sports lovers enjoy what may turn out to be the "ice bowl," many other men will be rolling in limousines, literal mobile brothels, or shacked up in hotels dipping roses into mud.
It's a sick and twisted example of a broken male culture. Men acting worse than animals buying in to each other's uncontrollable desire to spoil the innocence of youth for their selfish short-term satisfaction.
"New Jersey has a huge trafficking problem," said Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), who is co-chairman of the House anti-human trafficking caucus. "One Super Bowl after another after another has shown itself to be one of the largest events in the world where the cruelty of human trafficking goes on for several weeks."
Recent news agencies reported that New York and New Jersey law enforcement are bolstering efforts to address this dirty trade that goes behind closed doors. Even airlines are training personnel to lookout for possible pimps and victims. But I'm reminded of Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities overrun with sexual temptation, lust and sexual appetite and other wicked behaviors. No measure of law enforcement could save these cities. I wonder if the same is true of the heightened level of sex trafficking that comes with every Super Bowl game.
So what can be done? Can we send squadrons of undercover agents to pose as "Johns" and discreetly save the boys and girls and expose the perpetrators? Unfortunately, even this would only scrape off the scab of an ugly, deeply-rooted wound. This is a highly organized, well-heeled industry entrenched in the business of catering to lust.
I believe it will take a long-term effort to reach men with God's saving grace and message of a higher love. We can start by:
Open our eyes and look through a God-filtered lens to see men at risk, boys and girls entrapped, and women selling themselves for a dollar. It's all around us. We don't have to be at the Super Bowl to find it.
Pimps recruit unwitting girls at shopping centers, malls and online. Typically, they are bewildered youth who have run away from home, rebelling against the law, or fleeing from unruly fathers or unsafe homes. One study estimates more than 300,000 girls between ages 11-17 in the US are lured into the sex industry every year.
Unfortunately, these vulnerable youth are the result of broken homes, which are the result of absent or abusive fathers – broken male culture.
Awareness is the beginning of the anti-dote. When the disciples recognized they ran out of food, in Mark 8, Jesus had to remind them who they were hanging out with. "Do you have eyes, and not see, and do you have ears, and not hear? And, do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the 5,000, how many baskets full of pieces of bread did you collect?" The disciples answered sheepishly, I'm guessing, "Twelve."
In the same way, we must open our eyes to those around us, and remember the power God gives us to do something.
Pray against this abomination. We can pray for God to intervene and save the victims. We can pray against the enemy to save the men and reveal the hole in their hearts that only God can fill. Remembering the power of God, you can ask for almighty assistance.
"I assure you: If you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' it will be done. And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." -- Matthew 21:21-22
First, don't be that guy who seeks out and buys sexual favors. They are not favors, but "pits" that lead to death (Proverbs 5:1-14). Instead be this guy, the Good Samaritan Jesus taught about in Luke 10:25-37, who didn't walk around the beaten man, instead reached out, lifted him up and took care of him.
What does that look like?
Join the fight through an organization to create awareness and support victims, or even a ministry at your church offering aid. Give some cash, sign petitions, talk about the dangers and realities with your family.
If you're going to New York for the game, consider taking along some cards you can give to suspecting victims, with discreet messages and a help-line or address where they can go for help.
If you see an at-risk youth at the mall, beat the pimp to the chase, and offer help.
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And, remember, the rose's DNA is still in-tact. Washing off the dirt, still makes them a rose; a rose containing the power to become a beautiful, fragrant example of God's love, healing and hope.
Kenny Luck is the founder of Every Man Ministries and the men's pastor at Saddleback Church. His 20th book – SLEEPING GIANT: No Movement of God without Men of God - is a blueprint for men's ministries, and was released through B&H Publishing.