I first discovered The NET on Jamie Ivey’s The Happy Hour podcast, in an episode where Jamie interviewed Melissa Ice, the founder of The NET. Melissa was sweet, genuine, and passionate, and I fell in love with her mission immediately. Melissa started a nonprofit in Fort Worth that connects the local church with the struggling, the privileged with the unprivileged. The NET seeks to partner with a network of businesses, churches, nonprofits, and volunteers to form a safety net for the marginalized. The idea is simple, but the impact is incredible. Connect an average American with an outcast in the name of the Gospel, and with a little bit of training, compassion trumps prejudice. The NET ministry that’s wrecked my heart is PURCHASED, which strives to connect the privileged with victims of sex trafficking.
This is the part where many of you are tempted to close this tab and turn a blind eye. That’s certainly what’s easiest, what’s comfortable. But where in scripture does Christ call us to stay in our comfort zone? You may be under the impression that sex trafficking only happens in Vietnam, Thailand, the Congo, and India. The sad truth is, American women and children have the same risk of being exploited as they would have in developing countries. In fact, you’ll see a plethora of young women who choose to exploit themselves on Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube if you follow any millennials on social media.
The message that the media has shouted in my ears as a young woman in 21st century America is that my worth and identity are totally shaped by my physical appearance. My body, my complexion, my hair, and my facial features have to fit into a certain category in order to be physically attractive. I’m flooded with tutorials on Pinterest that teach me how to alter my facial structure with makeup, and can’t search the internet without coming across an article on this or that celebrity’s body. From the moment a girl becomes a woman biologically, the enemy begins convincing her that her body and her outward beauty are the most valuable tools she can offer the world. If he doesn’t succeed, he moves on to a man.
From the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God in Eden, men and women have been in a power struggle. God created Adam to lead and love Eve, and created Eve to help and love Adam. Sin distorts love into selfish, short-term, impatient lust. God created men and women to live peacefully with one another, to be fruitful and multiply. God created marriage as a reflection of Christ and the Church. The enemy HATES anything that glorifies the Lord, so he went after the forbidden fruit just as he did in the Garden: sex. Sex was created by God to bond a man and woman to one another, and to fill the earth with Creation. However, sex was made for marriage only, and our adversary loves misleading God’s children. Today, we live in a world plagued with advertisements and social media that completely distort the heart of God.
Women were created in God’s image, but are often seen as objects for pleasure and exploitation.
Women were created to be helpmates, but are rarely seen as adequate collaborators.
Women were created to reflect the spotless Bride of Christ, but media constantly uses women to reflect male desire.
Women have become a commodity to be purchased, whether in the flesh or in an image. A culture steeping in female exploitation tries to convince women that they have to show off their bodies, change their God-given features, or sleep around. Teenage girls show as much as skin as possible, totally unaware of the dangerous male lust they’re feeding. Young women go to chaotic, substance-filled house parties, unaware or in denial that their risk of sexual assault has increased exponentially just from stepping in the door. Wives and mothers ignore or hide from their husbands because the men in their past rejected or betrayed them in moments of intimacy. Women have become enslaved to the male gaze in one way or another. Personally, I’m afraid to walk alone at night because of the invasive catcalls men throw as they drive past me. As a young woman, I’m a prime target for perverse men. I know that I have to dress a certain way to protect myself from ogling stares, and that a fingertip-length skirt won’t always detain the male gaze. I’m scared by a lingering stare from a male stranger because I know that girls my age are kidnapped and sold into sex trafficking every day. In fact, the Human Trafficking Hotline reports that there have been nearly 500 sex trafficking cases in Texas this year. Men and women are imperfect, and lust rules the world that God created for love.
So, how does PURCHASED fit into this injustice?
PURCHASED rescues women from the detrimental mindset that their worth is entirely in their bodies. This nonprofit started after The NET heard countless stories of women who were bought and sold in Fort Worth sex trafficking each day. Sex trafficking is modern-day slavery, and The NET is in business to set captives free. The NET calls people like you and I to come alongside sex trafficking victims and love them as Christ does, in whatever capacity possible. If you live in the DFW area, I urge you to connect with this ministry on PURCHASED’s official website. Fortunately, for those of you who live elsewhere, the NET wants their mission to reach as many people as possible. This is where that snazzy shirt I’m wearing comes in. This shirt has a bold message: Girls Are Not For Sale. Women are not commodities to be exploited, and their worth is found within. These unisex tees allow you to fight injustice through awareness.
You have the power to shine light on the darkness that plagues our culture, and all it takes is a comfy tee. Become a light by illuminating the injustice that women face every day and the evil that causes others to exploit them.
As a bonus, PURCHASED is offering my readers 15% off your purchase of a Girls Are Not For Sale tee! Whether you buy the black women’s tee or the unisex white tee, use the code THOUGHTS15 for a few dollars off your purchase. Go the extra mile by posting a pic of your shirt with the tag #PurchasedFW, and join the battle against sexual exploitation.
Photo Courtesy of Apricity Photography