Some days impact you so profoundly that they determine the trajectory of the rest of your life. The day I saw posters of missing children in an airport in Greece was one of those days.
When I was told that the children on each poster were highly likely to be victims of human trafficking, I was burdened to do something for them—the injustice was beyond comprehension and far too significant to ignore. I wasn't a lawyer or a social worker or a psychologist, but I simply had to do something.
That was the beginning of A21, right there, in that moment. A seed of awareness was sown in me that was unshakeable, and it compelled me to start a journey I never could have imagined. What began with seeing posters in an airport, is now a global organization backed by thousands who are determined to abolish slavery everywhere, forever.
It was so easy for my husband Nick and I to feel overwhelmed when confronted with such evil, darkness, and complexities. Human trafficking–an issue we were just beginning to learn about. But in the beginning stages of awareness, we had to remember the light we carried—that it isn't our own strength, knowledge and ability that saves. It is Jesus who saves. It is Jesus who frees. It is Jesus who makes a way where there is no way. And by giving Jesus our mustard seed of faith, and putting our hope in His victory over sin and death, we knew that we would begin to see lives reached, rescued, and restored.
"Greater is He that is in me, then He who is in the world." ( 1 John 4:4)
We serve a redeeming, restoring and glorious God who is the God of second chances; the God of new beginnings— and through Him, the seemingly impossible becomes possible.
The children on those posters. We couldn't save them by ourselves. But we can all be a part of the solution. We all have a portion to give that God can meet, and it's this realization that propelled us into fighting slavery—humble before the Lord, but confident in His power working through us, walking with Him and partnering with God in delivering justice.
Since then, thinking about everything God has done in and through A21 in the last 10 years still blows me away. From awareness, to prevention, to intervention and aftercare, we've come a long way from seeing posters in a Greek airport. With 13 offices in 12 countries, we've seen so many victims rescued, traffickers put in jail, and survivors' lives restored to freedom.
Our global awareness event this past year, Walk For Freedom, drew tens of thousands of people, in over 400 cities, taking millions of steps against human trafficking. We've seen A21 expand into one of the worst human trafficking regions in the world—Southeast Asia—through a coalition between A21, the Royal Thai Government, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Only God and the support of people who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and go to work could make this possible. A21 wouldn't be what it is today without people answering the call to fight injustice. Jesus has taken our hands, feet and beating hearts and turned it into saved lives, redeemed stories and freedom for those once enslaved.
But it did start with one poster, one seed, one person, in one place. This is why awareness is so important to what we do—because we believe that reaching even one person with the reality of human trafficking has the power to lead to real change.
In 2018, our global awareness campaigns Can You See Me? and It's A Penalty are launching and we cannot wait to see what happens. What I love most about Can You See Me? is that it's not just for the government or police—it's for everyone. The goal is to equip people anywhere and everywhere to notice potential victims of human trafficking, by seeing the circumstances and then reporting it to the hotline in their country. Displayed in airports, train stations, buses, public malls, and other transportation hubs across the UK, Thailand and now the U.S, this campaign encourages people like you and me to take action: "If you suspect it, report it."
We're also thrilled to partner with It's A Penalty this year during the Superbowl in the USA, the Olympics in Korea, the Rugby 7's in China and the Commonwealth Games in Australia to harness the power of sport to protect vulnerable children from exploitation around the world. With a global audience, and an event that is usually a hub for human trafficking, we are bringing the issue to light through multiple international airlines and other mediums during these games.
If there's one thought I want to leave you with, it is to never underestimate the power of awareness. Just like one poster led to the beginning of A21, one step, one donation, one call to a resource line, and one more set of eyes made aware of the issue can be the seed that saves one more life.
You and I are the light of the world. The purpose of light is not to be intimidated or scared of darkness—light is meant to penetrate darkness. And while there are millions of slaves in the world, every bit of light matters. We've seen it through every survivor whose life is changed, every prosecution that establishes justice and every heart ignited to do something about human trafficking.
It all matters. Together, with the light and power instilled in us through Jesus Christ, we can see slavery abolished. Everywhere. Forever.
Christine Caine is an Australian born, Greek blooded, lover of Jesus, activist, author and international speaker. Her primary passion is to make Jesus' last command her first priority by giving her all to see the lost saved and to build the local church – globally. Christine also has a passion for justice, and together with her husband, founded the anti-human trafficking organization, The A21 Campaign. In 2015, they also founded Propel Women, an organization designed to celebrate every woman's passion, purpose, and potential. Powered by hot, extra-dry, skinny cappuccinos, Christine is a lover of words who speaks too fast, talks too much, and also writes them down. Her most recent book is, Unshakeable: 365 Devotions for Finding Unwavering Strength in God's Word.