According to a 2005 congressional study, sex slavery binds an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 young girls and boys within the United States in forced prostitution every year. Within the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex alone, an estimated 250-plus girls are bought and sold monthly as slaves in the sex market.
As crowds flock to the metro area during Super Bowl week, pimps will transport an estimated 12,000 minors to the area and force them into prostitution, according to the Southern Baptist Texan. In response to this surge in sex trafficking, a group of students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary called on Southern Baptists in the area to help break the chains of sex slavery by opening their eyes and ears during the week of the NFL's championship game at the Cowboys Stadium.
"Our goal is to raise public awareness, because we feel that when the public sees this, they won't be able to close their eyes or cover their ears anymore," said D.L. Frugé, a SWBTS master of theology student.
The Dallas-Fort Worth region competes even with Las Vegas as one of the major hotbeds of sexual slavery, especially during large events like the Super Bowl, Frugé said. However, he is not without hope for the young girls enslaved by sex trafficking.
"In Fort Worth, we have a huge opportunity to make an impact right now," Frugé said. He and his wife Katie have joined several other Southwestern students to form a grassroots advocacy group called Lose the Chains.
During a recent chapel service at the seminary, the group challenged students to inform their churches of the plight of these enslaved girls, and to help congregations see what they can do to break the chains of the sex trade. In a message on their website, www.losethechains.com, the group calls church members to watch for the signs of sex slavery in their communities.
"Pimps have a lot of tactics, one of which is to rent homes in your neighborhood, turning them into brothels," according to the website, designed by David Wallace, a student in the College at Southwestern. "They're most vulnerable in our neighborhoods because hundreds of thousands of church members live in these same neighborhoods. Pimps aren't expecting Christians to have an eye out for them."
Christians can call 911, Frugé noted, if they spot signs of sex slavery in their neighborhoods.
Another member of Lose the Chains, seminary doctoral student Mindy May, joined Deena Graves, founder of the advocacy group Traffick911, during a panel discussion on the Southwestern's campus Jan. 27. May has been discussing the issue of sex trafficking in various venues in advance of the Super Bowl.
May described her research about sexual slavery in the United States: While examining research documents and governmental legislation on the issue she was shocked by the absence of church involvement in responding to the issue.
"We believe this is grieving the heart of God," Graves said during the panel discussion, "and if we know this is happening to children, and we don't do anything in response to it, then we're accountable for that."
Jason Smith, another member of Lose the Chains and a master of divinity student, said the church must face the issue, ultimately, because young girls enslaved within the sex trade -- and the men who manipulate and abuse them -- need the Gospel.
"There is a really big Kingdom effect that can be made in this situation," said Smith, who is a member of Lose the Chains alongside his wife Amanda. "We really want to see these girls not only be freed from slavery, but spiritually freed and spiritually healed. We want these girls to know the love of Christ."
To learn more about sex trafficking and the way that Christians and churches can respond, visit www.losethechains.com or www.traffick911.com.
Benjamin Hawkins is a senior writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).
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