Meet Tracy. Wife, mother of three, incredibly creative with the gift of hospitality, devoted follower of Jesus, humble, lighthearted, yet with a fierce sense of justice and passionate love for the most vulnerable in our world. She doesn’t consider herself a good speaker and yet she is powerful and moving as she spoke from her heart during our Tread on Trafficking launch last night on behalf of Love 146.
The subject of child sex trafficking is probably one of the most difficult subjects to address as it is so horrific and hits so close to home. I think it is one that is probably the most paralyzing and which keeps people at an arm distance from this issue. In showing a clip from the Love 146 website as well as the trailer from the documentary Playground, Tracy set the stage for what this issue is about and the realities that it occurs in our backyards. She then calmly talked through these facts:
•Over 1 million Americans are trafficked in, out of or around the United States every year
•300,000 America children are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation
•Sexual trafficking cases have been reported in all 50 states
•Main trafficking hubs have been identified in border states and vacation destinations
•The average age of entry into commercial sex slavery is between 11-13. This includes boys and girls
•75% of transactions for sex with underage girls are conducted via the internet trafficking
•The commercial sexual exploitation of American children and women happens, via the Internet, strip clubs, escort services, pornography or street prostitution
•US government spends 300 times more money per year to fight drug trafficking than it does to fight human
As Dawn and I stand in the back monitoring the lights, we are amazed at the power and calmness in which Tracy speaks. We are all reminded why we do this. We know it is not much, but we are humbled and empowered at the same time that we are doing something. The place is not packed like we had hoped, but there is not a dry eye in the crowd as Tracy speaks, and I know people are being changed. The veil of “I had no idea” is being raised and people are beginning to see that slavery still exists.
Tracy tells one of her favorite stories of a young boy who runs out to the beach early one morning. He is amazed at the thousand of sand dollars that are washed upon the shore and he begins to throw them back into the water one at a time. He knows that as the sun comes up it will dry the sand dollars and they will die and so as time passes he moves faster and faster trying to throw as many as he possibly can back into the sea. His dad eventually meets up with him at the beach and asks him, “Son, why are you working so hard to throw these sand dollars back into the ocean? There are thousands of them. You will never save them all.” The son replies, “Yeah, I know Dad, but I can save this one” as he tosses the one he was holding back into the ocean.
This story Tracy shares reminds her that the actions of one person really do make a difference and how she imagines there being many other people on the beach with that boy throwing sand dollars back into the ocean. She shares how collectively we can really make a difference in the fight for freedom and the abolition of slavery.
She whimsically smiles as she transitions us to hope. She shares what we did last year through Love 146’s Tread on Trafficking campaign and what we plan to do this year. We ran, we swam, we surfed, we hiked, we raised enough money to be the #3rd fundraising group in the nation for LOVE 146. Then she hands the microphone over to Rob Rojas and his wife Christy who share their experience. Rob is local father of two, and is one of the most renowned Stand Up Paddlers in the world. Last year he paddled for over 24 hours and exposed the realities of child sex slavery to an entire industry that might have never heard about it. He won The Most Awesome award by Love 146 for which we are so proud:) What Rob shared was that he knew that no matter what he did during this campaign that he had to be uncomfortable. Pushing himself to the point of being uncomfortable is what helps him not forget that he is needed, his actions are necessary in the new abolitionist movement. So, he is paddling again for another 24 hours and hinted that depending upon how he is feeling at the end of the 24 hours, he may just make it 146 miles.
His wife Christy, mother of two and a school teacher, shared how it would be easy to let this be her husband’s cause, but she knew there was something for her to do as well. So she is leading a beach trail run and asked for friends and those in attendance that night to join her.
In addition, San Clemente Gym owners, Gia and Eric Lucy committed to a time of fundraising June 30th at their gym. Gia will also be teaching a Zumba class at San Clemente Presbyterian Church June 16th from 9-10AM and a local physical therapist, Kristin Massamiri of Wheenk! Physical Therapy will be teaching a dynamic stretch class from 8-9AM the same morning.
Tracy ended the evening with sign ups and showing clips from our efforts last year. I’m so thankful for one mom who stepped out of her comfort zone and stepped up to the plate in leading a community one step at a time to actively engage in the fight against child sex trafficking.