Raleigh Sadler says he’s just a Florida boy who wears cardigans — he has no business kicking down the door of a brothel. But when God got hold of Sadler at a Passion conference in 2012, he had no doubt about a few things: human trafficking was, in fact, his problem, and even if he didn’t kick down any doors, he had to do something.
Now Sadler, a North American Mission Board missionary and college pastor at Gallery Church in New York City, calls himself an abolitionist. It’s a title he says every Christian should have. “Our freedom in Christ should drive us to be agents of freedom for others,” Sadler said. “People ask sometimes, ‘Why are you so passionate about this?’ and I ask, ‘Why did Jesus help the weak and vulnerable? And why don’t you?'”
“It’s a very important issue, and we feel like God is really doing something here,” said George Russ, Metropolitan New York Baptist Association executive director, noting that this was new territory for the association. A greater awareness is needed, Russ said, along with a deeper commitment to “meet the real, raw needs of people. It takes a new set of eyes to see and to be aware.”
For starters, adopting a lifestyle of abolition means prayer
. Sadler said he saw God answer his prayers back when he was serving in West Virginia. After God “wrecked” his world at Passion, he decided to take on state law. He prayed, talked with government officials and mobilized students from several universities to show up and support stronger anti-human trafficking legislation, which passed.
Now Sadler and other Baptist leaders are hoping to take on human trafficking in New York City, by partnering with more than 75 other organizations to put on an event called the Price of Life Invitational on many of the metro New York area’s college campuses this fall. This awareness raising event is aimed at drawing people to get out on the street and love the vulnerable. He’s organizing groups to hang out at the Port Authority in Manhattan where teenage runaways congregate. “There’s a 98 to 100 percent chance that within 48 hours of being on the street, they (runaway teens) will be approached by a trafficker,” Sadler said. “They don’t abduct them on the spot — they lure them in by offering food and a place to stay.” He said he wants churches to show them love before the traffickers ever get a chance.
“I want people to know where our churches are because our churches are relevant and standing against injustice and standing on the Gospel,” Sadler said. “If we actually did that, we’d be dangerous.”
Learn more at Grace Thornton’s Baptist Press article: Sex trafficking: Christians called to be modern-day abolitionists.