Dude, I love wings. So much that my husband, Tyler, actually took me on our first date to get wings. Risky as a lady, I know. Boneless was key for me to not get too sloppy. Gotta keep up with a nice first impression. Fast forward to the Super Bowl, which is one of my favorite days to completely chill out with those around me and you guessed it... cook up a giant batch of hot wings. Specifically this dusted, dry mango habanero rub we love. SERIOUSLY, GET IN MY BELLY RIGHT NOW! I love everything about the big game. The crazy fans, halftime show, greasy food, friends, and one too many beers. For Super Bowl XLII I cheered for the Eagles. I wanted the underdog to have their moment, but I have MAD respect for all the Patriots. If I am being honest though, something else weighs on my mind as dawn breaks the Monday morning. Sex trafficking at the Superbowl.
If you have been following the news, you will have heard how the Minnesota Police Force stepped up their efforts to thwart these events from taking place. Yet, the reality is women, men, and children have still been taken and are now in route to being sold for trafficking. After the 2014 Super Bowl, New Jersey authorities announced that anti trafficking efforts “recovered 16 children between the ages of 13 and 17 and arrested more than 45 pimps and their associates in Super Bowl–related activities.” In an article for the NPR with Criminal Investigator, Marc Chadderdon we learn:
MARC CHADDERDON: More often than not, you have an at-risk youth who is a runaway, maybe truant, and they maybe get arrested for small things - shoplifting, survival-type things. And then someone's nice to them. It isn't "The Abduction." It's not like the movie "Taken." It's that somebody's nice to them, meets them at the mall or a public place, maybe takes them and buys them a few trivial things or gets their hair done and spends a little money on them. And these victims view this person as a boyfriend. That's somebody who's been nice to them. And then after a period of time, they switch to, you know, Baby, I've spent all my money on you. You need to do something for me. And that's where they may take them to a truck stop and say, start knocking on doors and don't come back till you make $500. But they are still protective of that person. And that's the difficulty with law enforcement, as they've probably came from a background where they have negative experiences with social services and law enforcement, and they're protective of their trafficker.
GREENE: You mentioned young girls. How young are we be talking about here?
CHADDERDON: The youngest I have encountered, we had a Guatemalan girl that was
brought to southern Minnesota, and she was 9 years old and going to be sold by her father.
You can read the whole article here.
This can be both shocking and heartbreaking to read. The article goes on to state how often these women hesitate to get out of the only trade they know because they’ll have nothing better to put on their work history and furthermore fear they will get rejected from another profession. For the last six months I have been working with a ministry that helps women who have found freedom from sex trafficking get on their feet again, and some for the first time ever! They have given testimony to all of these things being true.
One woman I worked with stayed in trafficking because she truly believed she couldn’t do anything else with herself. It’s crushing to hear those words, but I am so thankful she is out and able to see just how much God loves her, how strong she is as a woman, and have hope restored. Her story and many others that inspire me. As much fun as it is to be apart of the Super Bowl celebration, I pray we do not forget to remember the ones who were taken on Sunday, the fight never stops.
The reality is that sex trafficking is a 365 days/year problem, not just the Super Bowl problem. In that spirit of fighting for the forgotten, I want to introduce you or re-introduce you to someone who motivates me in this fight. She is known as the patron saint of the forgotten people, St Jane Frances de Chantal. She was a wife, mother of four, then widow, nun, and now Saint. In her life, she had a vision of St Francis de Sales and when she met him placed herself under his guidance. After getting some affairs in order she found the Congregation of the Visitation.
Contrary to the worldly view of happiness being in the perfect job, spouse, family, friends, and body. Jane believed the secret of happiness was in "losing," that we should "throw ourselves into God as a little drop of water into the sea, and lose ourselves indeed in the Ocean of the divine goodness." One way Jane shared her blessings was by giving bread and soup personally to the poor who came to her door. Often people who had just received food from her would pretend to leave, go around the house and get back in line for more. When asked why she let these people get away with this, Jane said, "What if God turned me away when I came back to him again and again with the same request?"
This is beautiful to me. Getting to know St Jane has been very comforting and fitting when working with women who have survived sex trafficking. It can be a very emotionally taxing experience serving women who have been through more than I can scarcely imagine. What grace to have someone we can turn to who has the perfect heart to console those people lost right now.
Maybe as we all get back to work this week and eat our leftovers from the big game party, we can say a simple prayer to St Jane to intercede for those who were tricked into trafficking at Super Bowl XLII. As good as those wings are, my heart breaks for those families who are now trying to find their loved ones. Let us pray that God can bring them out of their suffering and into his peaceful embrace.
St Jane de Chantal, pray for them.