Tuesday, February 21, 2012

If You're Looking For A Good Cause To Donate To...

And I think we all should be, you should consider the International Justice Mission and Hookers For Jesus. I've known about these charities for a while and always felt like I didn't have the money to donate, but I've decided to take the plunge and start with pathetically small amounts. And while the amounts I'm giving aren't much, it feels good to be using my money to help some of the most desperate people in the world. I've been desperate and hopeless before and I want to prevent someone else from feeling that way any longer. And if I can help give hope to someone else, maybe it means there's hope for me.

IJM and HFJ are both Christian charities that focus on fighting sex trafficking. And if you know anything about the sex trafficking industry, you know how horrendous and horrific it is. Hard numbers are difficult to know, but millions of people all over the world are forced into sexual servitude. The global sex trafficking market is estimated to be $32 billion dollars.

IJM's focus is on international sex trafficking, especially in second and third world countries. They rescue women and girls from brothels and help provide recovery and job training for them so that they don't go back to it. They also help fight forced labor and illegal property seizures in third world countries. I've heard estimates that 32 million people are in some sort of servitude worlwide, with 80% being sexually exploited. In the 15 years they've been around, IJM has saved about 1,000 women and girls from prostitution, so mathematically speaking, it's a drop in the bucket. But here's the beauty of it: every life saved from sex trafficking is of infinite worth. It's not about the numbers to me, but rather that an organization like this exists at all. They are one of ten charities that was a recipient of Google's $11.5 million gift to end slavery. You can find out more about them at www.ijm.org.

Hookers For Jesus is a Las Vegas based charity whose mission is to fight prostitution and pornography in Sin City and internationally. They could more fittingly be called Former Hookers for Jesus because they were started by a former prostitute named Annie Lobert who escaped and became a Christian, but that's not quite as catchy and one of their themes is "fishing" for souls to rescue. HFJ provides a number of resources to help women out of prostitution including a prison ministry, a fund to help recovering prostitutes financially, support groups, employment resources, college resources, crisis pregnancy counseling, and a safe house called Destiny House. If you ask what they need, the answer is in a word, everything. When most women finally manage to escape prostitution, they leave with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, not even a toothbrush or comb to their names. They often have no other job skills or education to help them transition out of the sex industry and so even though many of them want to leave, they feel like they have no place to go.

If I had my way, I would see combined Young Men's and Young Women's activities of fundraisers, food and clothing drives, and activities of putting together birthday and welcome baskets to send to Destiny House (yes, I said combined activities because I think the world would be a much better place if teenage boys learned to serve women and see that objectifying women as sex objects causes pain and heartache, not excitement and fun), but I think it's crazy ideas like that that will probably keep me safely in the nursery where I can't make people uncomfortable. Hookers For Jesus and their founder Annie Lobert have been featured on the Today Show, ABC, NBC, and even on a Discovery Channel documentary. If you would like to learn more about HFJ, you can go to their website www.hookersforjesus.net.

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