As a midwestern girl, I grew up around hunting, and have killed my fair share of pigeons and sparrows with my trust worthy bb gun as a kid.  I get hunting.  I do.  This post is absolutely NOT about hunting.  But it is.

Yesterday, I was at the Sioux Falls Airport, traveling for a conference I’m attending.  The stark reality of what a big deal Pheasant hunting is in South Dakota hit me right between the eyes.  I kid you not, TWO lanes of the check in counter at the airline were reserved for hunters.  Banners were hung everywhere and their will big tables of hunting items greeting you as you approached security.  I’ve never seen such a thing!

As I walked through the airport, I was struck by the thrill of the hunt.  Many of these men are innocently seeking the thrill of the hunt.  The chase, the crisp air, the down home good ole boy stuff.

However, MANY that come for pheasant hunting are also enjoying other thrills, totally unrelated to hunting.   In the after hours, when the bird hunt is over, another hunt begins…

Ask anyone involved in the trafficking world, and they will promptly tell you that any sporting event that involves large numbers of men, involves trafficking in women to provide “thrills” for these men.  I hate to even say this, but South Dakota is no different.  (As is evident by the human trafficking busts at the Sturgis bike rally this year.)  Those with their nose to the ground  in the trafficking world are keenly aware that Pheasant Season in South Dakota is a prime target for our “entertainment industry” friends to profit.  And to profit, they will ship in thousands of women (or girls) to the great state of South Dakota.

I don’t have any concrete statistics to put up to prove my point.  After having been a part of a team at the Superbowl, I have to come to realize how hard it is to prosecute for trafficking and how even getting accurate statistics is hard.  What I do know is that when this many men (primarily) are coming into the state, the likelihood that women are sent in for their pleasure is incredibly high.  The likelihood that authorities even know where these women are is fairly slim.  They come in for the hunting season and are gone again, to the next venue.

So, midwest peeps, as we see orange vests trotting through ditches and ravines and gulleys and valleys, let’s be keenly aware that the thrill of the hunt goes way beyond firing a gun and shooting a bird.  Let’s be real and open our eyes to the reality that in many cases women are being “hunted” as much or more than birds.  Hunted women in a cage (whether visible or invisible).  Women that can’t just fly away.  They aren’t prostitutes making a good living for themselves.  They don’t enjoy what they do.  They are trapped.  Maybe by circumstances, maybe by a pimp, maybe by someone who physically holds them captive.  Many will be under 18.  Some, we would call children.  It makes my heart break to even type those words, but it’s truth.

It’s complicated and twisted and seems too sick to be true.  Our roots will tell us their is no way that is happening.  Reality is, it is.

I hate having to write blog posts like this.  I wish this weren’t our reality.  And if I don’t let others know, if I don’t share, if I allow others to live without hearing this truth, well, I’d be disobedient to the Lord.  He has made it clear to me that I need to be a voice for him.

If this is new information to you, don’t despair… God is still in control, and his judgement will come.  The same God that can move mountains with the faith of a mustard seed sees what is happening, and he will prevail.  But until then… we wait.

So often I’m asked “what can we do?”  My first answer is this… pray.  Set aside time and pray for Human Trafficking.  As you do, God will convict your heart.  Maybe your role is to pray. period.  Maybe your role is to get involved in some other way.  Start by seeking the Lord.  His heart is breaking for this.

Each Friday, I purposefully pray for freedom.  Freedom Friday.  Will you join me?  Start today and pray for the thrill of the hunt.  Pray for the women being trafficked right now in South Dakota.  Pray that this weekend, as thousands fly in to “hunt” that God would protect the women, that he would open their cages and allow them to fly free in Him.  And pray for the men.  Pray that they would resist the devil and turn from their wicked ways.  Pray that they would see this perversity for what it is.  Pray that they would resist temptation.

Our prayers move the heavens.  They change things.  Looking forward to having you join me in prayer!