I have been meaning to blog about a very heart breaking issue in our city of Houston for sometime now.  Our church is very involved and we have had some powerful speakers that had messages that I wanted to share. Somehow though, a blog post about human trafficking never fit in between all the pictures and updates of our family.  

I will start with giving you some statistics and facts. 

“Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery.  Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.  Victims are young children, teenagers, men, and women."
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
This is happening every day...
An estimated 18,000 victims of trafficking are brought to the United States every year.  Of these 80% are women and children.
Texas is the destination for 25% of all victims brought into the United States.  Houston is a major hub for traffickers using the I-10 corridor to move victims from the border or through our airports to other states.
According to a local rescue ministry, there are approximately 25 spas and tea rooms along FM 1960 between Hwy 290 and I-45 that are suspected of using human trafficking victims for commercial sex.  You may drive by one every day! Check out for more information.

A month or so ago, the founder of an amazing organization, Love146 came and spoke to us at church.  As he showed the videos of the children, as he spoke about their under cover operations and seeing these children lined up to sell like cattle, the looks on their faces, the evil that he encountered their were tears all throughout the sanctuary.  This is a very real and very dark part of our society.   2 children are sold into slavery every minute.  100,000 children are forced into pornography every year in America.  If you have time to visit their website its heartbreaking.  But they are determined and fighting to abolish this issue across the globe. 

Warning.. this video made me cry just watching it again while blogging this.  Its just heart wrenching but it is so important that we educate ourselves as Christians and that we offer hope and help to these children.

Unfortunately, Houston is a huge hub for this activity.  30% of the calls to the hotline for the help organizations are from Texas. An organization has been started freeourcity and all the area churches, law enforcement, volunteers are joining together to educate and work to put a stop to this in our community.  Its a 32 billion dollar a year industry, so as you can imagine this is a huge undertaking.

On Sunday, the boys woke up to the angel bringing a special message. Simply GIVE.  (didn't take a picture.. oh well) Anyway, I talked to them about how their are some children and some families that have needs that we don't have.  Their dads may not have good jobs, they may be sick, they may not have a mom or a dad, and that part of our joy at Christmas is to help these families and give them a special Christmas.  When we got to church, we let the boys each choose a stocking to fill.  These stockings are going to be used at the YMCA International Christmas party for human trafficking survivors and their children.

I also chose an ornament off a tree that corresponded to a sweet girl that lives at Freedom Place.  It is a Christ centered recovery center for girls 14-17 that have been rescued from child sex trafficking.  It is the first of its kind in Texas.  It is within a driving distance of Texas but for obvious security reasons the location is protected.   While at church that morning, I just grabbed the list and stuck it in my purse.  When we got home, I finally had time to sit down and look at the list.  My heart just broke reading the list for this sweet girl, R.  

One of her request is for an angel statue to remember her baby boy that she loss.  When you think about the reality of what she has been through.  When you think about the fact she is only between 14-17.  It is heartbreaking.  She has been weighing on my heart daily.  I am praying for her and asked my moms to group to pray too.  If you have time this Christmas can you pray for R too?

Now, here is the fun part.  I took the boys shopping with me to get the gifts along with our angel tree gifts for the family we adopted with our small group.  I had a 25% shopping pass to Kohls and I wanted to use it so I could get as much goodies as I can for R and for the 3 month old boy we sponsored.   Before it was over, I seriously had to question whether the savings was worth it!

Why Kohls only has single baskets is beyond me!

crazy driver

helping me pick out boots for R.. they chose brown 

see that little arm? 

And all the extras!  Eli kept saying, "the baby needs this, and this"
We ended up with an extra reindeer, several bags of boys, a little red bird,
2 Santa clauses, 2 snowglobes, and a towel when I got the register
that all had to go back!
Wow, what a trip.  It did leave me thinking if they even "got it" in anyway at an age this young.  I wrapped the angel tree presents and put them under the tree.  Beckett started investigating them after nap like he was going to open them and Eli said "no Beckett, those are for the baby he not have any clothes or toys." and Beckett said "oh ok" and walked away.  I know they are young to understand and grasp but hopefully by helping me they will start to build a heart of compassion and giving.

"Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion is to look out to the earth, yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now."

-St. Teresa of Avila

At Christmas it is truly better to give, then receive for in giving we receive the true blessing and meaning of the season.  Please pray for R and all the families in need this season.

The Riley's