Jerry Redman of Second Life of Chattanooga has issued a challenge for churches and faith-based ministries to rise up against human sex trafficking in Southeast Tennessee. Redman and Tim Passmore spoke recently at an event organized by Lee University students of Christian Benevolence instructor Sarah Brandenburg. Second Life of Chattanooga creates awareness that drives action through collaborative relationship with like-minded organizations and individuals in order to end human sex trafficking in greater Chattanooga/Southeast Tennessee.
“We have a great relationship with Homeland Security. We have a great relationship with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation,” Redman said. “We don’t have a great relationship with the faith-based community. … If we sat around a large table and we had to name the different chairs filled around the table, the chair which would not be filled, to the extent it should in greater Chattanooga, Cleveland and Southeast Tennessee” is the faith-based community’s.
“I think part of the reason we did not get a good attendance is because [people do not think there is a problem]. It is just so hard to break,” Brandenburg said. “People would rather be out in the sunshine than hearing about this. Partly because they do not know about the issues, and partly because they do not want to know about it.”
Redman said numerous organizations from the government to nonprofits have gathered together to make a stand against human trafficking. Churches as a major force against the sex trade were not included. “This is inconvenient news I have come to announce to the Southern American church. Jesus came all right, but he did not come to ensure our tax rates would go down. He didn’t come to ensure I could buy as many guns as I want,” Redman said. “Jesus said, ‘I have come to set the captives free,’ and I believe that is exactly what he does. Unfortunately, in our region right now in any substantive way, the church continues to sit out … We have to be advocates within our local faith communities. We have to be willing to sit with leaders. We have to be willing to sit with pastors.”
Tim Passmore said Christians must overcome apathy, complacency and despair to make a difference. “Do you think the resources of everyone who can oppose human trafficking couldn’t stop the industry? We have [human traffickers] relying on us to do nothing, who hope every day we do nothing,” Passmore said. “There are ways we can help and each one of us will respond in a different way. I challenge you to respond.”