Causes of Vulnerability: Community Instability
Humans thrive with stability in our lives. Some people may have more adventurous personalities than others, but, with few exceptions, people like to be in control and know what tomorrow, next week, next month, or even next year might hold. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of the world out of stability and into the complete unknown. Issues like human trafficking thrive on instability, and this pandemic has created significantly more vulnerability to becoming involved in human trafficking, both here in the United States and across the world. In the last two days on this blog, I have highlighted some the ways that political and financial instability, brought on or exacerbated by the pandemic, have increased vulnerability to becoming involved in trafficking. In this installment, I want to share some thoughts on how community instability can also be dangerous for each of us.
If you have ever participated in a HOPE61 training or even heard about HOPE61, you have heard about the importance of community to us as human beings. We are designed and created in the image of God. The triune Godhead is a sacrificial community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, existing together seamlessly and beautifully. We are created in that image, and we too need community to fully live into who and what we were created to be. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gave all humanity the opportunity to be reconnected with God; the most important relationship we have is with him.
However, we need community with each other as well. God never meant for us to live life on our own, as isolated creatures, and when we try to do so, things generally do not go well. There are times and places where solitude and quiet are important, and Jesus shows us how important it is to find alone time, but that was not his default lifestyle and cannot be our default lifestyle either. We find worth and value in knowing that God loves us and in knowing that others love us as well.
Community provides protection from loneliness and fear, and it provides safety and accountability. Community also provides a tremendous amount of knowledge and awareness as every individual in the community can benefit from the expanded knowledge base of the larger group. The opportunity one has to share their own God-given gifts and talents and to benefit from others’ God-given talents and abilities is gloriously manifested in the community of local churches all over the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people into isolation and quarantine and removed the opportunity to gather in groups. Being alone and isolated with so much uncertainty in the world has dramatically increased the vulnerability of those who might otherwise find protection, education, and other resources from a community of friends and family. As travel restrictions ease and people begin to move around more freely, traffickers will be waiting to take advantage of those who are isolated and alone.
HOPE61 training prepares churches to identify these vulnerable people and offer them the opportunity to be reconciled to God and to be welcomed into the church as that loving community we all need. Time is short, and the vulnerable need the help of the local church. HOPE61 is prepared to be on the front lines of the fight against the evil of trafficking by equipping churches to prevent the vulnerable from becoming involved.
As Giving Tuesday approaches, we encourage you to partner with us in this effort. Your donations go directly to equipping churches to prevent human trafficking. We also encourage you to reach out to us about scheduling a HOPE61 training in your own church. The vulnerable are just not “over there” somewhere but live in your community also. Join with us today, and we can stop human trafficking through the power of God!
By Tom Overton, HOPE61 Global Director