Sausage gravy at the truckstop
The single waitress and the lone cook did not seem excited when ten of us strode into the diner at 9pm. We repositioned a table and made ourselves at home, passing the sticky menus around the booth and laughing about something I can't recall. The most pressing debate: the big breakfast platter versus the philly cheese-steak omelet. One of life's tough decisions.
Our real purpose in visiting the truck stop cafe was to scout out the land. Our new outreach (which just happens to involve eating biscuits with sausage gravy) is to provide public awareness and a point of contact for victims of human trafficking. Most of the people I talk to tell me that human trafficking is a problem in India or Thailand. I tell them that it is, but it's also a problem in Baton Rouge. Many will argue with me. It wouldn't be right for me to point across the room to a thirteen year-old whose sister was sold to a neighborhood pimp, or to the single mom on the third row who was only eight when her mother traded her for crack.
These aren't people we met at a strip club on Midnight outreach; they are in our church, sitting in our pews every week. If human trafficking is a third-world problem, then it got lost. It landed, alive and well, smack in the middle of the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I volunteer with an organization that helps fight human trafficking so I hear a lot of stats. Did you know that it is now more profitable to sell people than drugs? The only criminals that make more money than traffickers are arms dealers. Weapons, people, drugs; the 3 most profitable criminal activities in the world. It is estimated that over 100,000 Americans will be victims of human trafficking this year. Most of them will be women and children; many will be teenage girls, hoping to escape abusive situations at home. Sadly, the streets have nothing to offer. According to statistics, runaways will be approached by both drug dealers and traffickers within 48 hours. That gives us, the church, less than 2 days to find these kids and intervene.
You may be asking yourself how any of this relates to biscuits with sausage gravy. Victims of human trafficking are, this moment, being moved across America in tractor-trailers. Commonly referred to as 'lot-lizards' these women and children are traded between truckers, moved from state to state, and often kept drugged to prevent escape or detection. (Please don't misunderstand me; I'm not claiming that every trucker is a trafficker; simply stating that's one of the methods used by the industry to transport victims.)
We want to be a healing place for a hurting world. Sometimes that means we feed the orphans, pray with the sick or visit widows. Sometimes it means we eat greasy biscuits at 10pm and pray for the opportunity to talk to a waitress, a cashier, or a trucker so that we can educate them and help make a difference in somebody's life.
We did get to talk to the waitress Saturday night and we hung posters in the bathrooms with a national hotline number that helps victims. We didn't talk to any victims, but I believe God will honor our efforts. I believe that one day, one girl will read that poster or talk to that waitress, and God will make a way of escape for her.
Please join me in praying for the people entangled in human trafficking; the victims and the perpetrators. Jesus went to the cross for all of us, and He wants all of us to make it to heaven. All glory to God!