Two years ago, I began hearing stories about things that hit perilously close to home. And I didn’t like it.
You need to understand that even though I never shy away from the truth, I also do not seek to dig up the seamier side of life. There is such a thing as too much truth.
I realize nobody is perfect and life cannot always be viewed with rose-colored glasses. And, like many of you, I have not enjoyed having to face the fact that our quaint little county does have drugs and gangs and yes, even human trafficking.
It unsettling to consider that anyone would try to take advantage of another human being of any age, but particularly younger and younger demographics.
No one, and I repeat no one, was put on this earth to be in servitude and sold like a piece of property.
So when my friend Beverly Weeks, then tasked solely with the role of executive director at Wayne Pregnancy Center, began sharing how she and her team were discovering, and rescuing, young men and women from the clutches of others who engaged in human trafficking — the growing statistics are alarming — we can no longer escape the fact that it is happening in our own literal back yard.
Suddenly, even though I have never fashioned myself as an investigative reporter with a soapbox, I knew that this story had to be told. If not me, then who?
It’s a philosophy I strive to live by, as with any challenge to do the right thing.
A lot has been going on behind the scenes with efforts from very brave and impassioned people putting feet on their prayers in tremendous ways.
It has taken some time to accomplish, but I am very pleased that the News-Argus has afforded me the opportunity to share some of this story.
In a series, which begins today, you will learn how Beverly and her team of strong, courageous and even bold Christians are seeking to venture where few of us would ever want to find ourselves.
They are making the connection between drugs and gangs and prostitution, as well as incarceration, as all of these play a role in human trafficking.
One need look no further than the environment and/or lack of parenting that leads to an even greater lack of self-esteem, which allows controlling, money-seeking traffickers to wedge a firm stronghold on so many.
Trust me when I say these are not pretty stories, but ignoring them is also not resolving the issues.
If we care about others in any way — and make no mistake, even though some of the victims are not your child or friend or family member — they are someone’s child or friend of family member.
Each time Beverly shared another heart-wrenching story of rescue or taking someone to a safehouse, I muttered, “I need to do this story, if it’s the last thing I do.”
Just as law enforcement and crisis ministry professionals take risks every day to improve the fabric of this community, I believe it is all of our responsibilities to recognize we all matter.
And just as ignoring something will not make it go away, so should a newfound awareness make us all so uncomfortable that we cannot and will not rest until everything possible is done to ensure that each and every life around us is the best it can possibly be.
A good first step is to care.