Human trafficking is one of the biggest, most profitable, and most heinous criminal industries in the world. It happens in every major city in the world, though we like to pretend that our own backyards are somehow exempt from this. There are millions of people around the world (the majority of whom are women and children) who live in unimaginable situations, and only 1-2% of them will ever be rescued. We generally think about slavery as something that ended about one hundred and fifty years ago. But sadly, there are even more people in slavery today than during the days of the transatlantic slave trade. For the past several weeks, I've been participating in Dressember. It's a month-long campaign to raise funds and awareness about human trafficking. The rules are simple: wear a dress every day in the month of December, and spread the word about what you're doing. Repeat outfits are allowed, skirts are not. For 31 days, a dress becomes the uniform of world-changers.
This challenge has meant so much to me, especially leading up to Christmas. I love the Advent season so much, the anticipation of God's promise of freedom through Christ. God's heart yearns for his children to be free from sin, to know the abundant life he has to offer. And because of Dressember, this time of reflection on spiritual freedom has also been a time of reflection on physical freedom.
Dressember asks little of us but to consider the freedoms we enjoy, and make a relatively small decision to speak out for those who can't. I am ridiculously fortunate to live in a place like Canada. I have the freedom to choose what I will wear each day, where I will go, what I will eat, who I will see. So many are not allowed to make those decisions for themselves, instead finding themselves at the mercy of traffickers who strip away their dignity in the name of profit. While we will likely never meet them, victims of trafficking are people. They are someone's daughter, sister, cousin, friend. They are humans, deserving of dignity and love. They have dreams like anyone else, dreams that will never come true unless someone intervenes. My heart aches at the thought.
I've been told several times this month that I'm brave for wearing dresses in the cold. While wearing dresses when the thermometer reads -30 isn't much fun, it's not really brave. It is such a small thing, to sacrifice a bit of comfort for a few weeks. I will get up each morning and put on a dress, no matter how much I just want to wear a pair of pants and a sweater. I will happily be uncomfortable for a month if it means that someone else is brought out of suffering.
As of today, Dressember 2016 has raised over $1 million USD to fight against human trafficking. In partnership with A21 and the International Justice Mission, that is enough money to rescue thousands of people from sexual exploitation and forced labour. It makes all of this worth it.
The campaign is still going, and I'll be wearing dresses for a few more days. I want to challenge you to get involved in these final days. That might mean sharing this blog post on social media or putting a dress on for a day or two. And if you can, I would encourage you to donate here - every dollar helps.
Galatians 5:1 says that "for freedom Christ has set us free." I have been blessed with both spiritual and physical freedom. I have so much. What will you do with your freedom?