The Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST), a coalition of faith-based, community-oriented and non-profit organizations, recently developed a new curriculum aimed at training the caregivers of sex trafficking survivors. FAAST has produced two versions of the textbook for its “Hands that Heal” curriculum, an academic version for colleges and seminaries and a community version for those not in academia. The result of twenty months of work and an ingenuous alliance between faith-based organizations such as World Hope International, Project Rescue and the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, this project receives no government funding. It is completely supported by private donations, thus freeing the Alliance’s curriculum to be “unapologetically Christian (or Biblical)” in its foundation, according to members of the panel.
When asked about “Hands that Heal,” Dr. Janice Crouse, Director and Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute, said, “This curriculum will be extremely useful to the caregivers who work with trafficking victims. The emotional, physical and spiritual damage done to these victims requires special care, understanding and a long-term commitment in order for healing and restoration to take place. Many experts agree that faith-based groups have a distinct advantage in rescuing victims because healing frequently requires a transformation only available through God’s grace and mercy.”
Ambassador-at-Large Mark Lagon, Ph.D., with the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, was the first to speak at a press conference regarding the curriculum, and provided a report on the work his office was doing. “According to U.S. Government statistics, over 800,000 people are transported across international boundaries each year [for the express purpose of being sold into some type of slavery, including, but not limited to prostitution and domestic servitude.] Over one-half, of those are minors,” said Dr. Lagon.
Next, the audience heard from Dr. Beth Grant of Project Rescue, an organization whose stated goal is “to eradicate all forms of child exploitation” and is closely aligned with the Assemblies of God. According to projectrescue.com, these victims can be sold for as little as $150, and their average age is 13. Dr. Grant’s heart was exposed as she explained how the curriculum grew out of a need to treat the whole person that has been rescued from such a horrific experience. She stated that the “Hands that Heal” curriculum will help organizations and individuals answer the question, “What can I do?” These groups will be able to use the text to find what will work best in their local area to aid in the effort.
“The fact is trafficking is happening in neighborhoods and cities all across the United States, and there are many citizens and groups that want to help eradicate this modern-day slavery; the FAAST curriculum gives them a tangible way to help, using sound psychological and spiritual principles,” said Dr. Crouse.
Kristin Wiebe, Director of Anti-Trafficking for World Hope International, was also a panel member. World Hope asserts that the estimated number of people held captive worldwide is 12.3 million. Miss Wiebe reiterated the merits of the two different texts, one for community groups and one geared toward academia. She spoke of how the Church is “the sleeping giant on sex trafficking,” discussing the lack of threat traffickers feel from church congregations. Wiebe also noted that the curriculum is set to be translated into six or seven languages, and two are currently underway, Russian and Romanian.
Closing remarks were made by Dr. Laura Lederer, hailed by the other members of the panel as a “pioneer in the battle against human trafficking” in the United States. She currently serves as Senior Advisor on Trafficking Persons to the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs. Dr. Lederer supplemented the comments made by the other panelists by describing the approaching fronts of trafficking internationally. Stating that Southeast Asia was about to experience “the next tsunami” in human trafficking, Lederer explained that there are currently about 300,000,000 more men than women in China, creating a burgeoning market for the sex trade in that region.
If you or your church is interested in hosting a training session for caregivers, please contact Kristin Wiebe by e-mail at [email protected]or by phone at (888)466-4673. For more information on “Hands that Heal,” or to obtain a copy of the FAAST curriculum, contact www.faastinternational.org or [email protected].