CCC blog

Posts Tagged ‘Traffick Report’

Concert for the Cause – Price of Life is Coming next week.

web banner

Just getting a post out about Price of Life, the social justice awareness campaign just about to kick off next week here in Omaha!  Be sure to pop by the web-site and check out the events coming at us, especially the big finale concert at the end of the week with Propaganda and Remedy Drive.

Also if you’re around CCC on Sundays you can swing by the Price of Life booth in the Atrium, buy a T-Shirt and get some concert tickets!  We’re 13 days out from the concert and pushing hard to get the word out in our community.

Below is a post you’ll find on the POL website – we call the blog “The Traffick Report”.  I was thinking this week about some of how Price of Life has grown on me.  This is my first ever Social Justice Campaign.  It’s been quite a process.  This post is about some of what I’ve been learning.

08-24-14  What’s it mean to take a cause seriously?  Five Things I’ve dicovered.

About a year ago my adventure into learning about the world of human trafficking was just taking off.  It started as a work related assignment:  “Find out everything you can about trafficking.  Help us know what to think of it and how we can respond.”

I researched everything I could about what was going on in my community.  I met all kinds of people working on the problems.  Was pretty sickened to see what is being spent on pornography and can only imagine the damage being done through its every manifestation.  Read books.  Met people.  Met perpetrators.  Met victims.  Met social workers and academicians.  Searched my own soul pretty deep and long looking for any trace of my contribution to the mess.

In this post, let me venture a top 5 list of things I think will keep your soul in the fight over time.  Friends of mine out there nearer to the fight can add to this I’m sure, but here’s a start.

1-      Find a FOUNDATION for your outrage.  If you can’t count on something bigger than your personal disgust toward the abuse you see, you’ll just cave in and stop fighting.  We all have a certain instinct that making sex a commodity and enslaving people in the process is wrong.  But have you ever stopped and accounted for exactly why it’s wrong?  Until your world view delivers a solid answer for the existence of radical evil, you better keep questioning it.  The scale of what is happening to our children will merely wear you down and numb you up till you have very little left to fight with.  I’ve found my core conviction on this.  Hope you are finding yours as well.

2-      Keep LEARNING, never make peace with ignorance.  Intellectual sloth and intellectual arrogance suffer from the same cancer – it’s the attitude that “I don’t need to know”.  The awareness initiative I have been leading in my community for over a year now has been largely educational at its cutting edge.  Action is incredibly vital.  But action without context is presumption.  Context is what allows you to actually have a cause to engage instead of just being busy with actions you don’t really believe in.  Price of Life is an awareness campaign largely because awareness is what makes action effective.  Attend as many of the community events we have in the schedule during the September campaign. Check out the many ways in which we’re speaking to the issues.  Find what connects with what’s important with you.  Let yourself be stretched!

3-      Develop COMPASSION Permanence.  An author and justice champion I’ve come to love during the Price of Life initiative is Gary Haugen.  He’s the president of the International Justice Mission.  He compares Compassion Permanence in advocacy work to Object Permanence with children.  Really young toddlers at some point develop the ability to remember where things are that are out of their immediate eye-sight. “ Compassion Permanence is a courageous and generous capacity to remember the needs of an unjust world even when they are out of our immediate sight.  God calls us to a grown-up capacity to engage a world of oppression with our heart and mind, even though it is not always before our eyes. ‘     Gary Haugen  – Good News About Injustice p. 52

4-      Go and DO Likewise.  Action needs context in order to really transform.  Knowledge must lead to action or else evil isn’t stopped, healing begun and justice served.  When Jesus was asked about the one who really proved himself to be a neighbor in the case of the good Samaritan, he capped off the teachable moment by telling the young lawyer “Go and DO likewise.”   We often make a hero out of the good Samaritan.  But Jesus was making the most basic point possible.  The Samaritan wasn’t above and beyond – heroic in his efforts.  He was simply effective.  He actually did what needed to be done (where the others just walked on by with their excuses for why they couldn’t engage the cause.  A pet issue turns into a cause when you’re willing to act – when you’re willing to meet the actual needs at hand.  This is why Price of Life seeks to showcase the efforts of groups like IJM and Rejuvenating Women and New Hope Life Center for Women and Lutheran Family Services (see the rest of the campaign Affiliates).  We want to connect impassioned activists with people doing the most direct good in our community and around the world.

5-      Get your COURAGE on.  Seeking to abolish the modern-day scourge of sex trafficking and all its tributaries will take more than good intentions, volunteerism and reading the reading the right books and websites.  One of my favorite authors defines courage this way:  “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.  Honesty or mercy that yields to danger is conditional.  Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”        C. S. Lewis  -Screwtape Letters

So let’s do this Price of Life thing.  But only take this on as a cause if you’re sure you’ve got what it takes to keep moving ahead.  As me and my teammates have planned for Price of Life for months now, we’re thinking – “Hey, the event is almost here.  One final push and we’ll be there.”  But it’s about a cause, not an event.  The cause will still be there.  Hope you can join.

Geography-loving, slavery-hating, Nebraska Mom

Staff Blogger Lisa Ashton – Associate Director of Spiritual Discovery


“In elementary school I remember learning about the African slave trade and thinking, “If I would have lived during that time, I definitely would have been an abolitionist.” Never did I imagine that, as an adult and in the United States no less, I would need to be one.”

Meet, Dr. Rebecca Buller, one of our presenters in our next Traffick School, coming May 30-31 at CCC.  She is a professor at UNL, wife and mother of two kids, loves Jesus, and is a self-proclaimed chapstickaholic.

Education: PhD – University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Geography (2009)

What classes do you teach at UNL? Human Trafficking in Nebraska and the Great Plains, Introduction to Human Geography, Elements of Physical Geography, Women of the Great Plains, Geography of Nebraska,

What are some of your hobbies/interests? Spending time with friends and family, being outside, outdoor recreation, traveling, camping, fishing, hiking, listening to music, anything Geography, reading, watching movies…

Could you tell us a little bit about your faith story?   I remember, as a child, always loving God and the Lord.  It wasn’t until early undergraduate days, however, that I became confident in the assurance of salvation.  That was when my high school sweetheart, my husband now of 12 years, shared with me a simple, but life-changing truth– that to be assured of salvation, all I needed to do was trust in Jesus as my savior.  What glorious freedom and love.

What has God been teaching you in your journey of fighting human trafficking? Many things–that no matter how much we may hate the atrocity, He hates it immeasurably more. As humans we are fickle and can look away, being “angels with apathy.” All people involved in trafficking– victims, pimps, and customers included– are His children. How His heart must break; He will never turn his back on them even though we might. It also reminds me that, no matter how insignificant we think our contributions might be, we must be steadfast in being His hands and feet in reflecting His love to others.

What is one specific thing that needs to happen to decrease human trafficking in Nebraska? Increase awareness about victims and perpetrators…people want to keep their heads in the sand and believe it only happens elsewhere and not here.

There you have it.  A geography-loving, slavery-hating, Nebraska mom, who is using her platform as a professor at UNL to help end human trafficking.


If you haven’t registered for Traffick School, do it today at


What makes you so mad you could just…



Ever hear of that word?  Yes, I think it is spelled with an exclamation mark.  It’s an idea we’re not familiar with when it comes to God, the Bible and what it means to live out our faith as loving followers of Jesus.  Scripture actually gives us a tool called imprecation.  A tool to be used only in the most extreme cases of spiritual warfare.  Imprecation is actually calling down curses upon the heads of those actively working evil.  Imprecation is ultimately God’s prerogative to grant or dismiss (and it’s a good thing that’s the case).

Can you give me an example of Imprecation, Tim?

“ Arise, LORD! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.” (Psalm 3:7 NIV)

Wow, there’s a great sentiment!  What happened to “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?”  Turns out Imprecation is its own genre of intercession.  It’s actually OK to pray an ugly prayer like this because of the justice of God and his settled hatred of evil.   Imprecation is a prayer language of radical confrontation!  Want another choice example?

“Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.  Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be.  Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; LORD, tear out the fangs of those lions!   Let them vanish like water that flows away; when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.  May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along, like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.”  (Psalm  58:3-8 NIV)

To any kid who has ever sprinkled table-salt on a slug and watched it writhe in its own mucoidal scum, imprecation makes perfect sense!  Imprecation is the heartfelt cry:  “God, get the bad guys.  Round them up.  Turn their evil plots back on themselves.”

Join me in earnest Imprecation today!

On the first Mondays of the month, I’m asking those reading the Traffick report to spend a few minutes in prayer.  Maybe even skip a meal to free up some time to do so.  Today, I bless you to curse evil as you pray about the hideous injustice of trafficking, forced prostitution, and the entire sex industry in your city.  Perhaps you could read through Psalm 10 with an eye on the justice of God in response to this form of evil.  Remember that today, if not in our city of Omaha, in cities across America and around the world, there are perpetrators actively luring young people into the sex industry.  There are pimps and pornographers and brothel operators who are plotting blatantly evil actions against the youth of our world.

Psalm 10 – an Imprecatory Psalm

“He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims;  like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.  His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength.  He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.”  Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.  Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”?  But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked man; call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out.  The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land.  You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,  defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.” (Psalm 10:8-18 NIV)

As you pray, you are engaging the spiritual forces of evil that are destroying our youth.  As you pray, you can place all the judgment and punishment you can imagine in the hands of him alone who knows best how to dispense it.  As humans we can dare to imagine God’s rage, but God alone is the one who should vent it.  And prayer is a legitimate way of meeting God over the things that outrage his heart and ours.

May God bless your cursing today!  Pray boldly.  Act wisely.


Upcoming Price of Life Trafficking Initiative events:

May 30-31 Traffick School – Information and Registration at this link

 June 8th – Theresa Flores SOAPs the College World Series


Human Trafficking in America – 5 year snapshot.

polaris 5 year report

Just finished skimming through the Polaris Project 5 Year report on Human Trafficking in America.   At a glance I can highly recommend tracking down the report and reading it yourself.  Here’s where you can find a link to the complete document in PDF format:

NHTRC Five Year Report on Human Trafficking Trends

The trafficking hotline number so familiar to anyone aware of the Polaris Project, has been in existence since 2007.  As with any hotline number, it takes a while for the number to get out there and become visible enough to actually be useful.  Five years into its use, Polaris now can give us an emerging picture of Trafficking in the United States that is beginning to say something significant to us.

The executive summary at the very top of the report will give you a sobering snapshot.  Here are a few fast facts – I recommend you looking it up yourself so you understand the numbers better:


The number of calls to the hotline 1-888-373-7888 in the first five years of the number’s circulation.  That’s over 800 calls a month.  That’s also a number that has gained momentum as awareness has increased.


The number of unique cases of Human Trafficking identified among the total call-in volume of the hotline.


Of the total trafficking cases identified, 64% were Sex Trafficking Cases.


Of the Sex Trafficking cases involved women and girls, the remainder involving male and transgendered individuals.

location of cases

The 46 page report is thorough!  You’ll get an education in the terminology of trafficking if you take the time to read the report.  I downloaded it to my trusty i-Pad and plan on reading it this week as I exercise.  Some the highpoints include a breakdown between Sex Trafficking and Labor Trafficking, Child Trafficking, the growth and awareness of the hotline number and a few helpful glossaries and appendices.  Give it a read soon!

breakdown of cases


Save the Date:

Theresa Flores is SOAPing the town for CWS.  Sunday, June 8th at Christ Community Theresa will bring her team to Omaha looking for volunteers to deliver free soap to the hotels in town. Can you guess what’s on the back of those itty bitty bars of soap?


You guessed it!  The NHRTC hotline number:  1-888-373-7888.  More on that in my next post.

Me? A Mandatory Reporter?

Staff Blogger Lisa Ashton – Associate Director of Spiritual Discovery

Nick Zadina - Gathering

1 – A seven-year-old goes to school and tells the teacher that her mother spanked her so hard the night before that she has bruises on her bottom. The teacher watches her closely throughout the day and notices that she does not seem to have a problem sitting and does not seem afraid to go home. Should the teacher report it?

2- You are walking into the mall and notice a woman standing in the parking lot yelling at a little girl who appears to be about 5.  The woman has a loud voice and you overhear, “How can you be so stupid?!  You’ve always been an idiot – you’re driving me crazy.  Just wait until we get home…” Would you report it?

3- A 15-year-old adolescent discloses to her therapist that she was sexually molested by her uncle when she was 12 years old. The therapist is the first person she has told.  She believes if her parents find out, it could cause a split in the family. She and her family do not live in the same town as the uncle.  She has not seen him since she was 13. Since the abuse occurred three years ago and there is no further contact between the child and her uncle.   Should the therapist report it?

How should you respond?

I know when I first read them, I wanted to ask some clarifying questions.  I wanted more information.  However, what I learned last weekend settled the issue for me.  Did you know that in the state of Nebraska, every adult who has a reasonable suspicion of child abuse is required by law to report it? That makes me a mandatory reporter!    This means that when it comes to child abuse, my job is to report, not investigate.  Not all states carry this law, including Iowa, but it is a law in Nebraska.

This is one thing I learned at CCC’s Gathering this last Friday.  We had the privilege of hearing from Nick Zadina, training specialist for Project Harmony.  Project Harmony is a local child advocacy center whose mission is to protect and support children, collaborate with professionals and engage the community to end child abuse and neglect. Nick did a fantastic job of explaining the need for child advocacy centers.  He said his passion is to help people do a better job at protecting our kids.

I wonder how much safer our community  would become for children if every adult was committed to reporting  suspected child abuse.  I wonder how reporting child abuse today could affect the number of men and women involved in prostitution or trafficking in the future.

I’m praying today for Project Harmony.  I’m remembering our teachers, who receive more disclosures of child abuse than any other profession.   I’m asking God to help me do my part in reporting any instances of child abuse that I may suspect.  And for the hurting, at-risk kids in our city, I’m asking Jesus to show them his loving care.

Let’s Kick Slavery in the Face!

07 photo

Had some interesting insights into anti-trafficking efforts yesterday as I was watching 4th Degree Black  Belt Sensei, Derek Stewart instruct some kids on basic Jiu-Jitsu.  Campus Pastor Elvin Tores is setting up free lessons at a few Martial Arts schools in the Bellevue area.  People attending get a free lesson in Martial Arts.  In exchange we take a few minutes to talk about modern day slavery in the form of Human Trafficking.

“Martial Arts isn’t about learning a bunch of cool moves you can go beat up people with.  It’s about discipline.  It’s about self-defense.  It’s about knowing the signs of danger and knowing how to get yourself free.”  Sounds a lot like what we’re trying to promote with Price of Life, Christ Community’s anti-sex trafficking campaign.  Just like protecting yourself with the skills and disciplines of Martial Arts, we need to learn how to protect our communities from the dangers of the modern day slave trade and it’s connection to the sex industry in our community.


What are some points of self-defense in the fight against Human Trafficking?  I was impressed with how simple many of the moves Sensei Derek was teaching kids yesterday.  There was an elegance to it I admit I wish I had the discipline to learn.  But it got me thinking.   What are some of the simplest ways to fight trafficking?  Let’s just start there as a way of protecting our community.   You might be surprised at how many of these you are well capable of right now!

1. Open your eyes and ears!  Learn to look at what is happening around you every day as you go to school, shop, head to work, head out the door to run errands or play.  Learn to be more observant.  Individuals who may be in trouble are often hidden in plane sight!  Take the time to look for what looks out of place!

2. Protect yourself and those you love.  A couple of weeks ago we viewed a documentary that showed a clip of how predators look for kids at malls who are unattached, drifting, not a part of a safe connection with others.  Make sure you and your family don’t put yourselves in dangerous situations in highly public places like malls and movie theaters.

3. Report suspicious looking happenings.  Let people who are trained in investigation and law enforcement do their job.  Call the national trafficking hotline number.

4. Inform your mind.  Read books.  Subscribe to websites like Polaris Project.  Talk with others about what you’re learning.  An informed community is a safer community.

5. Reach out.  Make friends with people.  Connect.  Look for people in your sphere who just need the loving touch of simple friendship.  Keeping others connected will help keep them safe!

6. Pray and let God lead your efforts!  Keep in touch with our Trafficking Initiative through the Price of Life web-site.  Stay informed and involved in what Christ Community is doing!

One last thing you can be thinking about this weekend.  Head over to the Student Center this weekend to catch the story about a trafficking victim who landed in the care of a Christ Community Family.  We’ll also be interviewing Gene Klein, Director Project Harmony.  Come check it out Friday, April 11th at 7:00pm.


Price of Life is coming to Omaha! Save the date, Sept 2-7th 2014.

price of life intervarsity

It’s with great excitement that I can begin posts about Price of Life Omaha!  Many more will follow in the months ahead.  We’ve just completed the initial planning phase for bringing Price of Life to the Omaha metro this upcoming September.

What is Price of Life?

POL is a trafficking awareness and prevention campaign Christ Community and other organizations will be teaming up to bring to our community.  The following link is a summary video of what took place at the Ohio State University a couple of years ago.  As you watch it look for the key elements of a successful justice campaign – partnership among lots of groups, creativity and boldness, awareness on multiple levels created through-out a week long event, and a great defining capstone event.

Price of Life Ohio State University

Myself and a vast team of volunteers and community partners are working on the details.  Let me know what you think, what your questions are and how you’d like to be a part!

So where do you draw the line?

line in sand

Recently during a Question/Answer session at the end of one our Sunday messages, the topic of attending a gay wedding came up.  Should a Christian attend the wedding of a homosexual couple?  The issue behind a question like this isn’t usually legalism at the core – but a more subtle issue of approval.  Does one’s presence at a homosexual wedding mean approval of homosexuality regardless the relational connection to the couple?

Maybe an even grittier way to put it would be this:  Would Jesus attend a gay couple’s wedding?  If so, under what pretext would Christ followers do so today?

It was a situation Jesus wasn’t directly involved in to the best of our knowledge.  Yet what can we observe from his life of connection with people – even “sinners” in other contexts?  It was perfectly clear that God the Father intended Jesus to live a fully human life.  Jesus lived an incarnational connection with humanity.  He did the things ordinary humans did.  He made friends.  He grew up in a family.  Worked a business trade.  Went to church.

He only got in serious trouble when he made life on life connection with people who were defined by a sinful lifestyle.  “Does Jesus know what sort of women this is who is touching him?”  Not only did Jesus live in our world, he never made it a point to avoid anyone for the sake of protecting his image.  He boldly risked his reputation on his associations with sinners.  He also clearly never met a person he didn’t consider a sinner in the best definition of that word.  So there’s our answer.

Yes, we should follow the example of Jesus in living a life of connection to sinners.  If Jesus did, we’re absolutely expected to do the same:  “As the Father has sent me into the world, so send I you.”  It makes total sense that we should be where people are.  And our mere presence doesn’t constitute implicit approval of everything people are into.  If we’re ever to love people, we have to love them where they are at.

So here’s another challenge to the “line in the sand” mentality.  Last week a team mate and I had the opportunity to talk with a couple of women concerned about the sex industry in our city.  They’d just returned from a Strip Church Training Conference.  Yup.  You heard that right.  Strip Church, an outreach to women working in the sex industry at strip clubs.  Where do you draw the line in reaching out to strippers?

Well, for women reaching out to strippers, it means a strategy of patient acts of loving care.  It means actually going to the clubs where these women work and reaching out to them in that environment.   The two women Lisa and I were talking with, are the cofounders of Strip Church Omaha.  They have been praying, getting training, and forging partnerships with churches here in Omaha as a foundation for reaching out to women dancers working in the metro’s 7 major strip clubs (around 150 women?).  They don’t crash the doors of clubs or picket their parking lots.  They reach out in simple acts of friendship and service and over time build bridges of trust.  For many women caught in that industry, these become the only bridge to the outside world that leads to lasting freedom.  Through friendship and time, the love of Jesus can be embraced by sex-workers.

So where should we draw the line?  As sinners ourselves, we should never pretend we have the right to ever exclude people from the love Jesus wants to show them.  There should be no lines we’re not willing to cross if Jesus is the one leading us there.  Where we lead with profound acts of love, the Gospel will soon be able to follow.

How to write your Senator. Tips from an insider…


One of the great things about a church like Christ Community is the incredibly gifted and experienced people you’ll find everywhere you look.  Pastor Mark received the following tips from a Christ Community member about writing your senator.  In connection with the previous post, I wanted to urge you respond to this timely opportunity.  Take a few minutes to read Jim’s recommendations.  Then use your lunch break to write an email or letter in support of current Anti-Trafficking legislation that is up for consideration this week.  Swat out a link to these two blog posts via your FaceBook or Twitter!  Let’s bring it!

From: James Jensen Sent: Sunday, January 26, 2014 8:51 PM

To: Mark Ashton Subject: Human Trafficking – Regarding LB 934 and LB 933

To Mark, Lisa and Tim, In response to these two bills I would recommend the following:

  1. Enlist a number of individuals to write, call, e-mail or snail mail senators on the Nebraska Judiciary Committee prior to the hearing day January 30th at 1:30PM
  2. The letters should be short, not more than one page.
  3. The letter should thank them for serving in the legislature and considering this issue.
  4. State that you became aware of this issue through the involvement of Christ Community Church over the last 18 months.
  5. Urge each senator to support any and all measures to eradicate human trafficking from the state of Nebraska.
  6. Each letter should be individual and personal, not taking on the appearance of a form letter.
  7. If someone would appear at the hearing to testify, it would be very helpful.
  8. Thank each senator for their time and consideration.

Below are live links to e-mail each one directly.  You can also use the following address (at this point in the week, of course it would be best to e-mail given that the these bills will be considered this Thursday, Jan 30th): Senator’s name Nebraska State Capitol PO Box 94604 1445 K Street Lincoln, NE 68509

Senator Brad Ashford, Chairperson

Senator Steve Lathrop, Vice-Chairperson

Senator Ernie Chamber  – No email address listed. # (402) 471-2612

Senator Mark Christensen

Senator Colby Coash

Senator Al Davis

Senator Amanda McGill

Senator Les Seiler

Anti-Trafficking Legislation you can help bring about!

amanda mcgill legislation


Wanted to call your attention in this week’s Traffick Report to a current opportunity to make a difference.  Senator Amanda McGill as you may well know is an advocate for Anti-Trafficking in Nebraska.  Check out this link to recent bills that are up for Judiciary Committee hearings THIS WEEK.  In my next post, I’ll forward you some tips for writing your senator in support of these measures.  You might want to view this post to help get informed.  Here’s a link and a few summary points:

  • State Senator Amanda McGill is proposing LB 934 which would create a new position for a Coordinator of Human Trafficking Prevention.
  • The job will be connected to the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.
  • McGill is also proposing LB 933 which will spell out the details of coercion and trafficking to include more recent tactics being used by perpetrators.
  • Both bills are will be reviewed at a hearing this Thursday, Jan 30th.

In my next post, I’ll give you some details on how best to act on this opportunity.  Meanwhile get yourself informed.  Get yourself in prayer!  This is a great opportunity to come alongside those like Amanda McGill whom God has placed in such an influential position.