A Southern California-based justice advocate believes that some of the greatest world changers are among the victims of the sex trade, and says the Bible backs this up.
When many Christians consider the scourge of human trafficking, it is all too easy to react in grief and revulsion, or worse, pretend it doesn't exist.
Kim Biddle, 36, who resides in Los Angeles, told The Christian Post that years ago she realized how much of a money-driven crime this is while researching the issue, causing her to think about how this was affecting the United States given its vast economic prosperity. Such inquiries would reveal the horrifying scope of the sex industry, but for followers of Jesus who know the power of grace and redemption, she contends, shutting down emotionally because it's too much to bear is no answer.
"Often God's light shines the brightest in the darkest of places," Biddle said. "So this work, and being aware of the darkness in our communities in the world, especially as it affects the most vulnerable, the ones that God always brought very close to his heart, the children, it is critical for our own hearts to be tender to those issues.
"And that can be very challenging for people, especially if they're uncomfortable with brokenness," she added.
But walking with people in their pain and brokenness is precisely what the Church is called to do.
In 2003 Biddle began her fight against this particular injustice when she traveled to Southeast Asia in partnership with Rick Warren's Saddleback Church and International Justice Mission, but over the years focused more on the trafficking of children domestically.
Seven years later she founded Saving Innocence, a nonprofit organization that provides crisis response and advocacy for victims of sexual exploitation in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. Biddle and her colleagues frequently collaborate with local judges, law enforcement officers, and social workers to craft policies and provide services to survivors from the point of rescue through rehabilitation.
Because Southern California is one of the largest sex trafficking hubs in the nation, in part because it is home to the entertainment and porn industries, Biddle has her work cut out for her. But already, in just five years, Saving Innocence is making an impact and garnering notable attention.
On Oct. 3 she was prominently quoted in The New York Times, praising the legislative measures that Gov. Jerry Brown signed in late September that prohibits law enforcement from arresting minors involved in the sex industry except when their safety is at risk. The new law correctly views such minors as victims instead of criminals and directs them to appropriate social services to receive the help they need.
"It's through that journey we begin to embrace our own humanness and our own brokenness that God's love is way more radical and powerful than we ever imagined," Biddle said. "And it's through the giving of that that we are able to receive that more fully. So beyond turning a blind eye, it's really an invitation into something greater for ourselves as our hearts expand to receive and give love."
In a society where consuming pornography is largely seen as socially acceptable and prostitution is viewed as a "victimless" crime, such notions belie other troubling realities.
"Most of the women today in prostitution were child victims that were never rescued, and had that innocence stripped from them," Biddle noted, adding that "pornography is a particularly dangerous industry because it gives a seeming sense that it's not harming anyone."
"But I would challenge that twofold. Not only is it harming the people involved in that industry, it reinforces the dehumanized view of people and keeps them in a bondage of oppression and a state where society says this is what you're worth."