Editor’s Note: The following article was published in our Sept. 2017 issue; however, since The New Abolitionist documentary is nearing completion, we wanted to provide this reminder to be on the lookout for its release! We will post an update when it is available.
For the past two and a half years, I’ve been engaged in the making of a documentary on human sex trafficking. Despite being overworked and sometimes overwhelmed, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. The focus of my film has been the Christian missionaries who’ve dedicated their lives to ending human sex trafficking. To me, they are the modern-day heroes of my faith.
There’s so much to share about the experiences, lessons and changes this process has facilitated in me. I continue to educate myself about the realities and intricacies of the following: the value and purpose of art, filmmaking, history, politics, geography, differing cultures, faiths, and societal forces. I also learned how to grow in my own faith through action. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that personal growth is our healthiest and most natural state. I’ve also discovered that our so called “mistakes” are the necessary and tangible evidence of this growth. I’ve made many errors while making this film. But what helped me the most, were two things: Letting go of my ego and not letting my perceived success or failure as a director define me. When I was able to put these things aside, getting back up after a challenge became easier.
I believe this film was and is my “divine assignment.” I had many confirmations from trusted people of faith, that affirmed this for me. I’m so grateful I took a year to seek guidance from the Lord about “what project he would have me do.” Had I not sought God’s counsel, I would not have had the faith to endure the never-ending trials and tribulations I encountered. Had it not been for my belief in God’s goodness and ability
to transform us all, I wouldn’t have made it. Every failure was necessary; propelling me toward the next set of lessons. Sharpening my character, abilities and understanding of the subject matter once again. This process of constantly embracing change, has taught that we are even more capable than we think.
I shot The New Abolitionists in Southeast Asia and travelled there twice to do so. The questions I asked were as follows: Why is it considered the most trafficked region of the globe? What can we all learn from this place about ourselves? Where and how must we change, transform and grow past this horrific reality? I also became deeply interested in what factors and conditions have contributed to this region being the most trafficked in the world. There are different groups who play a part in this global stage. The first group is those I followed. Those missionaries who dedicate their lives to fight, day in and day out, to end human sex trafficking. These are the ones I called in the movie, The New Abolitionists. Those who endlessly inspire me and deepen my moral courage. They are the concrete evidence of God’s healing power and goodness. They’ve sold everything, moved across the globe to rescue, restore, and stop this horror being perpetrated against woman and children.
Then there are the victims of this horrific industry. Women and children who are tricked, betrayed, seduced, pressured, blackmailed and exploited. Victims who fight and continue to heal from unimaginable pain and trauma. They’ve taught me about the strong, loving nature of the human spirit, despite any darkness the enemy and this world has thrown at them. I observed, many of these innocents going back into their families, villages and towns and transforming their own communities through the skills they learned through recovery and rescue missions.
Then there are the perpetrators, those individuals fueling this booming criminal industry. I’ve come to distinguish three categories in this camp. The first is a dangerous organized network of cartels that must be stopped. Then, there are the corrupt authoritative and governmental officials who are either working in collusion, to fuel this industry or turning a blind eye. While there arethose in positions of authority fighting to stop this evil industry, globally, greater reformation, top prioritizing and greater accountability is desperately needed. This can be achieved effectively through social pressure. Finally, there are the “Johns” who travel from all over the world to seek out sexual gratification. They are also, in a sense, victims—addicted, unwell, and in deep need of spiritual transformation.
The question I continue to ask is: Where are we in all this? We’ve had 10 years of exposure to this subject in movies, television shows, interviews, news programs and various articles. Yet collectively, what real action have we taken? Christian Elliot of A21 gave me a shocking statistic. He said, 1% of this criminal industry is being prosecuted. One percent! We are all, collectively, becoming more aware than ever. Yet that awareness and the actual rate of prosecution is extremely incongruous.
I challenge everyone reading this article to do more than watch from the side lines. We are Christians! There are no sidelines in this fight. We need the whole working army of God on the field. Speak out and petition our elected officials to make this issue a priority. Pray hard and long. Donate to the anti-trafficking warriors on the front lines of this fight (some are listed on my website www.thenewabolitionistsdoc.com featured in my documentary on the “What can I do” page). Your donations allow them to continue their life changing work. Go yourself and do anti-trafficking work alongside them. Buy products made by anti-trafficking organizations and businesses that contribute to this work. Find creative ways, like I did, to take action. Lastly, continue to educate yourself in solutions. Please don’t look away! Lives ARE at stake. We all have a part to play in ending human sex trafficking! With God ALL things are possible.
About Christina: The New Abolitionists is beyond a passion project for me. For the past 35 years, I’ve been a working professional as an actor, acting teacher, director and producer. I’ve trained, taught and performed in some prestigious and respected theaters and training institutions on the East and West Coast; producing music videos, a web series and numerous plays. However, my life changed a few years ago when at a chance meeting in Hollywood, I met Erica Greve, of Unlikely Heroes. Her story compelled me to action. For more information visit: www.thenewabolistionistsdoc.com.