Merry Christmas weekend, 1819 News readers! Please accept our wishes for a blessed weekend with family and friends, celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world!

While we fill our weekend with holly jolly, coupling it with holy reverence, it’s important to remember why Christ came: to set the captives free.

Today, none are more captive than the children exploited by human trafficking. Such a situation is horrible to imagine, and even more horrible to realize that it is happening on our doorsteps.

1819 News recently covered the Birmingham-based non-profit Covenant Rescue Group, which partners with like-minded organizations and law enforcement agencies to provide resources and manpower to conduct successful sting operations on human traffickers. Founded by former Navy SEAL Jared Hudson and wife Lauren in 2019, the group works to eradicate human trafficking and is completely funded by private donations – they receive no government assistance to do their work.

Covenant Rescue group discussed these goals with 1819 News’ Caleb Taylor, explaining how they trained officers and “helped plan a sting operation recently” against those targeting young girls in Montgomery.

"What we want to do is train them to be more effective in combating human trafficking and child exploitation. Part of what we do is we have a program we call the STOP program, Sex Trafficking Operations Program. That's going to be typically an eight-hour training course that we'll do for law enforcement," the group’s chief operations officer Josh Moody told 1819 News. 

"First day is going to teach them how to chat online, how to set up these profiles online to be able to really communicate with these pedophiles from the get-go, how to conduct a successful chat, (and) how to conduct a chat that can be prosecutable,” Moody continued. “Second day is going to be an interrogation/interview course. We're going to teach them how to interrogate these guys because you kind of have got to handle it a little differently than you would a normal interrogation." 

The work Covenant Rescue Group does is critical, which is why they need our help. The powers that be at Meta (Facebook’s brand name) are shadowbanning the group’s content, meaning their promotional, informational, and fundraising posts are being hidden from the view of users as if the page doesn’t exist.

This is troublesome for their work, Moody explained, because the group is seeking to expand its operations in 2024, budgeting $2.5 million for the year, a goal difficult to achieve under shadowbanning.

“‘In this day and age, apart from social media, that can't happen. We're not handwriting letters anymore. We're not cold calling because everyone screens phone calls now. Nobody answers phone calls. Everybody is on social media, and when social media starts squashing your message, it hurts. You kind of get your hands tied. God has provided faithfully all year long, and we know he's going to continue to, but at the same time, this is something that needs to be addressed,’ Moody said. ‘We can do it with proper fundraising but social media is going to be a big part of that.’”

For those who watched the movie “Sound of Freedom” this year, those words echo a familiar theme. Documenting Operation Underground Railroad founder Tim Ballard’s journey to save a little girl caught in human trafficking, the film features “Vampiro,” a former criminal who helps Ballard (played by Jim Caviezel in the movie) walk on the dark side in order to rescue the girl. Explaining his story of conversion from criminal to child-rescuer to Ballard, Vampiro says, "When God tells you what to do, you cannot hesitate.”

This Christmas, what is God telling you to do to help save the children?

Watching “Sound of Freedom” is a heartbreaking, stomach-churning experience, but it’s important for raising awareness. We must all do our part to help organizations like Covenant Rescue Group, Operation Underground Railroad, and so many others who are fighting to end human trafficking. Here are just a few of those other groups:

  • The Alabama-based WellHouse partners with Covenant Rescue Group to shelter female victims of trafficking. Offering emergency-, short- and long-term restoration programs, they help female victims learn life skills and navigation techniques for an outside world they have never experienced.

  • Unbranded of Louisiana is doing powerful work helping trafficking survivors heal and rebuild. Traffickers mark their victims with tattoos in order to brand ownership and value on their bodies – a disgusting concept. As Ballard says, “God’s children are not for sale.” Unbranded uses specialized technology to remove those tattoos from victim’s bodies, helping young men and women regain ownership of themselves. “We may just be moving a pebble on a mountain,” Unbranded’s website says, “but at least we are moving.”

  • Finally, the Virginia-based Safe House Project supports the unique needs of trafficked victims, focusing on a critical component of eradicating trafficking: permanent safe housing for those who have escaped the life. Even if a young man or woman has been removed from the abuser, they can easily be sucked back into the very world they escaped from if they are not provided with safe housing to rebuild their lives.

Prayers and financial support are game changers for these organizations. Some of them also take volunteer and partnership help.

This Christmas, how can you make room to be a part of this saving work of Jesus?

Jennifer Oliver O'Connell, As the Girl Turns, is an investigative journalist, author, opinion analyst, and contributor to 1819 News, Redstate, and other publications. Jennifer writes on Politics and Pop Culture, with occasional detours into Reinvention, Yoga, and Food. You can read more about Jennifer's world at her As the Girl Turns website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected]

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