16 April 2010

How human sex trafficking spurred on a Largo church to act

LEESBURG (FBW/FBC)—With “unkempt” dark hair framing her deep brown eyes, the little 11-year-old girl living at the bottom of the slum was supposed to be adopted by an American family after her mom died unexpectedly in the middle of the night.

But a “slum lord” interfered, threatening to kidnap a missionary’s child if the little girl—whose future was in being trafficked as a sex object—was rescued from the area.

Bill Losasso, pastor of Pathways Community Church in Largo, said his church had established a ministry in Guatemala and he made a decision those two years ago that he will never forget.

“So I decided not to get her out of there,” Losasso said. “I don’t even talk about what has happened with the church. I feel like a failure in it, I hate it—and I’m going to talk about it this time, but I’m going to tell you about what God has done since then.”

In a workshop, “Your Church as a Force in the War on Sex Trafficking,” Losasso was joined by Tomi Grover, director of community and restorative justice for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
Since the time the young girl disappeared, Losasso said his church has learned all it can about the problem of human trafficking in Florida and in Guatemala. It has learned that the police department has resources and training for churches that are willing to listen—and he has partnered with other churches and community organizations to be a resource and to develop resources for the growing problem.

He urges churches to learn all they can and provide safe houses, counseling, clothes, and rides to doctors and others for victims. They can also host block parties and be on the lookout for victims.

“Churches can do a lot of stuff if they are willing to receive one of these victims,” Losasso said.

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How human sex trafficking spurred on a Largo church to act is brought to you by Joni Hannigan and Barbara Denman of the Florida Baptist Witness.