Earlier this week, a sweet friend emailed and said that she noticed that a red X seemed to be the message of the day in the trafficking movement – said she didn’t know how I felt about it, but that she was praying. Praying for me, and for those still bound, and those who are still trying to recover.
I knew the red X. I mean, at least, I knew that it was part of another awareness campaign – one backed by big bucks.
But at the time, I was sitting on the beach. And I didn’t care.
Later that evening I arrived home and saw the social media feeds and that it was “the” day for the red X. A day when everyone could take a red sharpie and put a big red X on their hand to bring awareness to the fact that modern day slavery still exists.
And the big bucks sent the advertising far and wide both within religious and non-religious groups, with big names jumping in to support the cause with their photos of red X’s on their hands.
And my heart broke just a little bit more.
Because who cares about awareness when you are the one sitting in the dark, holding the pieces of a broken heart, ravished by the injustice of slavery, trying to find a way to stay in this life?
And not a single red X that day brought even an ounce of comfort or healing to my broken heart- at all. And the only thing that had shed a breath of hope into me that day was the email from the friend who says she prays.
And I thought about my husband and how he had stayed up with me half the night just the night before – again, crying tears and lifting prayers – desperate prayers for God to heal me, to make me whole. He daily – and nightly – pours out prayer to God for my healing while I am suffocating and drowning in hopelessness. Again. Because I can’t stand the pain. And I can’t see past the moment. And all I can see is what life has always been, and feels like it always will be.
And he sits by my side and prays. Because what else is there?
And it will take hours. And I will find Jesus again, and I will breathe again, and I will make it for one more day, or one more night.
And when he prays, he is not wearing an X on his hand. But his heart is torn, crying out in the dead silence of the night to the only One worth telling.
Because He is desperate to see one he loves freed, and willing to give up hours in intercession because that’s all there is to do when the hopelessness is threatening to drown his wife altogether, leaving him alone to raise the children.
And he is alone in this – the only one praying for me and lifting prayers in the deep dark of night for me, while you sleep soundly with your red X still on your hand.
And if I know anything at all, I know this – that his prayers are more pleasing to God than a billion red X’s on hands who want a cause but belong to hearts who never bow and never wrestle in intercession for the freedom of just one life.
And today, I read the whole thing, The “End It Movement Manifesto.” I read the statistics and looked at the posters and the buttons and stickers and the t-shirts and hats and cards, all with the big red X. And this is the “action” suggested.
“Take action,” it says and then shows how. By giving money and wearing X’s.
And I read the stories in the downloadable packet. And all the stories of girls who are raped for profit are “over there,” because no one is quite ready to say this happens here. People don’t want to hear about elders in Christian churches who trade their daughters for favors and status and wealth. And we don’t want to hear that children are sacrificed right to the devil himself, in our very own American neighborhoods.
Oh, we say we know. But we hold it away from our hearts, not daring to really look at it. And we act like those are the stories that will never actually happen to our own children. Not here.
And I see the poster that tells all the facts, and how many people are trafficked into the U.S. every year….with no mention of the thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children who are trafficked right within our very own borders every year.
And I see that upon a thorough first pass through every bit of the material, that nowhere is prayer ever mentioned.
And I see my husband. He doesn’t wear the red X. But the 300 plus hours that he has poured out in prayer in the last one hundred days are the only reason that I am still here.
Your red X has done nothing for me.
Isn’t it time we moved beyond awareness?
And the End It movement does acknowledge that awareness will not stop the trafficking of people, but they say that it will never stop without the awareness.
And I say, it will never stop anyways.
Because, let’s face it. If anyone is going to give a rip about modern day slavery, they’ve probably heard it by now.
And red X’s do not change the hearts of men.
All the awareness efforts in the world will not grab hold of men with sickened hearts, bent on fulfilling their endless hunger for the bodies of tiny boys and girls.
Because only God can change a man’s heart.
And prayer is the only thing that can stop the insidious spiritual force driving the trade of human souls.
So, please, rend your hearts and not your garments – or your hands.
Please. Shut your mouth from spouting statistics and sounding passionate about a cause and instead open lips behind shut doors to the only One who can actually do anything about this.
Because nothing will save a life like prayer.
And when we get this – if we can ever finally get it – then we will see slaves set free.
And they will be set free unto true freedom. The kind of freedom of heart that will never be accomplished outside of a healing work of Christ that never comes just because someone is physically free.
Slam me if you want, but your red X doesn’t help me. And it doesn’t help any of the ones you talk about but never pray for.
If you’re “in it to end it” then stop talking and start praying.
If your hand still bears the remnant stain of a red X on it today, then may I challenge you to something different?
Give up a meal in fasting and an hour of your time to prayer this weekend? Fast and pray. For one meal. One hour. Pour out your voice to God in heaven who knows how to deliver both the hearts of men and the minds, bodies and souls of little boys and girls, men and women.
And do it again next week. Get your red X buddies together and fast and pray collectively every week.
And after that, go find someone who is being trafficked right here in the U.S. – right in your own neighborhood – and pour your love and prayers and time on her. Because she’s worth it. The red X on your hand says so.