Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. As I once told a man who asked for a blessing, anti-trafficking work is a cause close to my heart. This wasn't part of our initial conversation, but he was a repeat customer (stopping for prayer and a chat each week) and became interested in learning about the ministries of my church. Advocacy around trafficking is one of them. Parishioners and I lobby for legislation, and we also advocate at the many hotels in Midtown Manhattan. We encourage management to post the human trafficking hotline number and train their staff to recognize the signs of sex trafficking on hotel property. This man was shocked to learn how rampant trafficking is in our country and in our city, how young the victims are, and how easy it is for traffickers to get away with it. So he started doing research. Each week he'd show up more outraged and incredulous than the last, telling me about another article he'd read on the subject.
Then he decided to write his own. He was a journalist, and this was his break-out piece in the New York Times: Bill Seeks to Enlist New York Hotels to Help Fight Sex Trafficking. He ran with the hotel angle and even highlighted the church's outreach ministry to Midtown hotels. Since then, New York State has made it a law that hotels display the trafficking hotline number on cards in every room so victims might call for help. Proposed legislation mandating trafficking recognition training for hotel employees will hopefully pass this year.
You never know how God will use an encounter between two strangers seeking to do good. Strangers who may become friends, and even partners in ministry, with an unconventional story about how they met. My encounter with this journalist turned out to be just that, and I pray for more of these encounters all the time. Care to try it? If so, be ready because God will come through. Life in Christ is an adventure, and unexpected travel companions are half the fun of it. May you bless, befriend, and join others in God's work as you walk in the way of the Lord.