Can I just say… well. Perhaps I shouldn’t. No, I’m just going to put it out there.

I’ve just read an email from an anti-trafficking organization thanking their supporters for helping those victimized by modern day slavery for yet another year. And I love it. I love to hear stories about rescued men, women, and children of modern day slavery. Sincerely, I do. It warms my heart and reminds my soul of the redemption of life. Reminds me why I praise God. It reminds me of the resiliency of the human heart, and the possibility of a brighter tomorrow regardless of the stupidly difficult today.

I want to find the starting line though. I want to be upstream where the pursuit begins. I want to be where the trouble brews so I can reach the ones who haven’t quite jumped or been pushed in. In fact, I want to reach out to those being pushed and those doing the pushing all the same. Aren’t we all looking? Aren’t we all lost without even the slightest clue of the matter? The river of human trafficking is a swift and strong current, and I’d rather people be saved prior to their drowning or near drowning. One percent of trafficking victims are saved… even with all the stories of rescue, there is so much more to be done.

When I went to Europe last spring, someone quoted someone else who was probably super famous for doing good stuff and said, “It’s much easier to guide people away from being coerced into the river of trafficking than trying to pull them out from the current“. It came from a team highly motivated not to just rescue the ruined even though this is part of the organizations goals, but to rescue those at risk of drowning. They were the ones creating cool magazines, taking over public school classrooms to talk about it, and engaging street and village youth in the purposeful programs created just for them. They were the mentors acting as stand in fathers and women like brave mother warriors, opening up homes for social orphans, at-risk girls, and treating these girls as though thicker than blood. Education, support, and believe it or not the continuation of unconditional love are key in the absence of trafficking to begin with.

The requirements in pulling one {or hundreds} of people out of a manipulative-by-nature situation far outreach that of helping people recognize the undercurrents of a smooth walking trafficker. And of course, there will always be situations where choice, though hardly a choice at all, is not given and people are literally stolen against their will. What we do know, is how strong traffickers are in simply using manipulation and coercion to persuade men, women and children into their deathly arms. Knowing this, our pursuits might do well in loving people right now, where they are at in hopes pimps and traffickers don’t reach them with the same, yet false tactics. We might do well to teach our young men and women, show true love before the fake stuff runs in to ‘the rescue’.

And the rescue needs to come from healthy hands and hearts and feet unwilling to see people suffer needlessly to begin with. I know, it isn’t as dramatic or newsworthy to most people, but the best story I heard in a while is the one just the weekend before Christmas. It came about that beautiful girl in the same city who had a mentor come in during the grooming period, and she instead sat there with true sisterly love. Not panicked or controlling in the coercion and manipulation but strong as love does and sat there. Sat there until this girl recognized just where she was at and what was happening to her- because people will know true love when compared there beside false love- and she wanted out before she got in. Did you hear me? She wanted out before she ever wanted to jump in. And so, with true love by her side, two women fled the city, one full of love and the other on the mends. The other finding faith, finding herself beneath the waters of baptism instead of the swallowing waters of prostitution. Yes, the other finding faith in Christ and baptism the same week because someone stepped out to show true love, upstream. The potential in educating and surrounding that space upstream gets me near high.

I know. We will need incredible amounts of teams strong, ready and willing to continue pulling those victimized by trafficking out of its abusive waters. I know. We will need people ready with ropes and yelling and blankets, sweat, blood, tears and true love at the other side too. It is most certainly not a one or the other situation, but rather one and the other. I love people’s willingness to be there. I know.

But wouldn’t it be awesome to be there, upstream, showing love, giving hope and ruining the chances of them drowning in the first place? I’m just going to put it out there. Let’s start walking upstream.