In October I went to New York State with friends from The Second Tunic Ministry who were invited by Operation Mobilization to participate in a test run for a slave trafficking simulation that they’re planning to take around the world. Here’s what we experienced….
“What’s going to happen to us?” someone asked our group leader, Kara Junck, the Global Experience Director for Operation Mobilization. Kara was preparing us for a simulation where we would experience an hour or two as victims of slave trafficking. She explained that she couldn’t tell us the details of the simulation ahead of time so we would better feel the shock that real-life victims face.
“Lord, help me endure this,” I prayed, as I wondered how my bad back would handle whatever they had planned. But Kara assured us we could opt out at any time for any reason, and no matter what happened in the simulation, we would be kept safe. This assurance, of course, cushioned us from the desperation of real-life slave victims who have no safety and no hope to opt out. So if people are forced to suffer slavery in this world, then at least my privileged self could learn to identify with them in a simulation, if only just a taste of what they endure daily.
From the abuse I had experienced in my own childhood, I already had a sense of their pain. But my ordeal was nothing like the large-scale operation schemed by a few narcissists to feed their lust for power. I won’t betray the ‘surprise’ element by describing all the details, but they started the simulation by giving us the role of vulnerable families in desperate circumstances. The abusers easily lured us into their “company” by promising a brighter future. Though a ‘something’s not right’ feeling gnawed at us, we followed their orders out of our desperate hope for a better life.
The abusers led us to a pit of evil, where they systematically broke our human spirit and emotionally beat us into a submissive machine. They demanded impossible standards, pitted us against each other with all kinds of abuse and threats on our family members. We would do anything to avoid as much pain as possible and try to protect our families, but it was never enough.
After the experience, participants expressed their surprisingly real feelings of hopelessness, fear and frustration. Even though we knew it was only a simulation, when the abusers stripped us of our freedom, our value as humans, we felt the betrayal, the anger of injustice, anguished in our desire to resist and protect but powerless to do so.
The worst was knowing that for tens of thousands of families around the world, it’s no simulation. The hour or two helped us identify with their suffering, see them through the Lord’s eyes of compassion and seek God’s direction in helping them.
Operation Mobilization is developing these simulation experiences to awaken people around the world to the suffering caused by human trafficking. If you’d like to learn more, please email GlobalExperience@om.org.