Human Trafficking and the Church

Human trafficking is a major issue in Canada and around the world. As part of FAIR’s Together for Freedom appeal, we invited Village Church in Surrey, BC, to write about their journey to mobilizing people to stand against the injustice of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.


Pastor Jeremy: I was standing in a recovery house in South Asia with an International Justice Mission (IJM) team, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I stood in this very place a few years earlier and listened to our IJM partners explain their dream for this space. At that time, it was an empty-looking room with dark, unfinished, concrete walls. This was not the kind of space that provided anyone with hope, let alone young underage girls who had been rescued out of brothels. But I stood there almost in tears wondering how this dark and cold space could ever provide what these resilient girls need to feel cared for and intentionally loved. Now, a couple years later, I could not hold back the tears as I looked at a bright place full of hope with a computer lab, and joyful murals on the walls drawn by the girls. This change represented the larger impact that had taken place through a strategic partnership between our church and IJM that had made a massive difference — a difference that you could see in the eyes and smiles of the girls. 

When I think about the Kingdom of God, this is the image that comes to mind. A dark place, unfinished, broken, being made into something new that brings healing and justice. These girls deserve to be rescued and rehabilitated into a life of hope, opportunity, and real love. This is the story that the Bible paints for us: a picture of a broken world, full of injustice and evil, being restored and made into a new world marked by God’s justice and love. 

As the Church, our job is to be image bearers of God’s justice and love because, firstly, we are supposed to be reflections of Christ out of our attachment to Him, and secondly, because God has chosen the Church as the means through which He desires to see this Kingdom come today. For me, there is no getting around it: if justice is a key characteristic of God’s nature of love, then as His Church, our hearts and deeds must embody His justice, whether that is across the world, across our nation, or right in our cities. 

Kaitlyn: And that’s what Village Church has made a priority. We first lead with our own personal convictions of God’s character of justice, then invite our church to join in this work. Our journey to mobilize people to stand against the injustice of human trafficking and sexual exploitation began with a golf tournament in 2016. We hosted one for IJM’s work in South Asia to free people from bonded slave labour. Church members and businesses came together around this cause to make it happen. We raised $425,000 that day, and little did we know what the impact would be down the line. Today, in the region we supported, bonded slave labour has either drastically been reduced or completely eradicated. Giving funds to an organization like IJM is an effective and great place to begin in having your church join the fight. We now support IJM’s sexual trafficking casework in other regions like the Philippines, and participate in other joint initiatives. 

Our work and partnerships evolved from there. Today, we support safe homes for women and children rescued from trafficking, and support prevention efforts. We also began to realize that the Church and the general public in Canada could acknowledge that human trafficking happens “over there” but couldn’t grasp that it happens here

When women and children are being exploited right in our communities, we must do something about it. We partner in the same way we do globally: aftercare programs and prevention work. Creating awareness about the issue through education is another effective tool. We’ve hosted panel discussions with expert voices to help debunk the myths, define the terms, and educate on the reality of domestic sex trafficking. Sex trafficking doesn’t discriminate, so the more the Church is equipped to know the signs and to spread awareness to others, the better we’ll be at being engaged citizens and loving the way God calls us to love our neighbour. It’s hard to be burdened by what we don’t know, and we can’t see the issue if we don’t know what to look for. Once we know, I believe God has a way of using us all uniquely to see justice, freedom, and healing take place for survivors and for those who still need a way out.

The FAIR team longs for the day when human trafficking is put to an end within Canada and around the world. Through the Together for Freedom appeal, we hope to see churches educated and encouraged to step out in faith, and to find ways to support and advocate for the vulnerable. Would you join us in praying that God would be glorified by the response of Fellowship churches across the country?

To learn more about the Together for Freedom appeal and access resources, please click here.