A few months ago, I had the opportunity to see the author of Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller, speak at my church. During his presentation, he discussed how God puts desires in our hearts and gives us the freedom to write our own story. Domestic minor sex trafficking imposes a story of trauma, fear, worthlessness, darkness, hopelessness and pain on the youth of our country. For someone who values the potential beauty a story has as a Child of God, I want to give these individuals a different story.
As a part of my story, I am preparing to be a prosecutor who prosecutes human trafficking cases. This summer, I had the opportunity to intern in Washington D.C. with both Shared Hope International and the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA). Both of these internships were focused on the issue of domestic minor sex trafficking and helped prepare me to be an effective advocate for this issue. At Shared Hope International, I worked on the Protected Innocence Challenge. This project annually evaluates and grades states’ legislation on its effectiveness in addressing the issue. The evaluations and grades are then used to hold states accountable to improve their legislation. This experience allowed me to learn about current human trafficking legislation and further refine some of my policy views on the human trafficking issue. At NDAA, I worked with the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse as their human trafficking intern. They are a national organization that trains, assists and provides resources for state prosecutors. At NDAA, I was able to explore the issue from a prosecutor’s perspective through the various projects I received and a training conference they held on technology-facilitated crimes against children.
Living in Washington, D.C. provided other opportunities to attend events and network with professionals in the anti-trafficking field. These events included attending the release of the Trafficking in Persons Report and the Fifth Annual Intern Roundtable on the Trafficking in Persons held by the Office to Monitor and Combat the Trafficking in Persons at the State Department. At the Intern Roundtable event, Ambassador Luis CdeBaca said that the interns were colleagues working together for the cause. It was incredibly encouraging to hear these words and to be reminded of the value of the work I was doing. Thanks to the support I received from the Center for Global Justice, I was able to take part in these and other experiences that encouraged me and exposed me to some of the strongest efforts for advocating against human trafficking.
A question Donald Miller presented to the audience at that service was, “What if God wanted to bond with you in the very thing that makes your heart light up?” He was encouraging us that it is God’s desire and a part of our relationship with Him that we create good stories with our lives. These are stories filled with unbridled joy, love, awe and value; stories not tainted by oppression, selfishness or hate. As Proverbs 15:13 says, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.”
I heard Bethany Hoang, from International Justice Mission, once say that understanding God’s character is essential to make our response to injustice be a fruit of who God is. May we respond to injustice by claiming the joy of the Lord as our strength, living the beautiful stories He created us for and sharing this with the world.
Center for Global Justice Interns, Danielle Gallaher and Elissa Polley.