By Karen Fettig – Manderson, Wyoming … Sheyenne was missing, and we went looking for her only to find her stuck in a hole of soupy mud. We worked feverishly to free her, pulling brush out with the tractor, paying no mind to the thorns gouging our hands as we ran the log chain around the brush. She fought and fought but the mud held her fast.
Finally, we accepted defeat and watched as beautiful Sheyenne started to go into shock. We knew we couldn’t get her out by ourselves. A neighbor had a track hoe and he was called. He came driving in the dark with only a flashlight to light his way as his lights weren’t working. Carefully he scooped the mud from beside her, the large bucket only inches from her body. She knew not to move. Finally, we were able to roll her out of that spot only to have her stuck again. We literally had to pull her out with the bucket and a rope. We finally got her on dry ground, and I piled on the blankets. Sheyenne kept trying to get up and, 24 hours later, she got up and walked to the corral.
Sheyenne has been part of Beneath Our Wings—a ministry in Wyoming that raises awareness about human trafficking. She, along with two other mules, have traversed Wyoming and through Montana to Canada. The reality of that scenario sank in that night as we tried to free her from the mud.
I thought of the hundreds of thousands of children being trafficked for sex each day in the U.S. at a profit of more than $16 million a day. Children being trafficked have a life expectancy of two to seven years. Many do not escape from the pit which holds them fast. Often when they are “used up,” they are killed, and their organs sold on the black market. It isn’t until someone recognizes their plight and rescues them that they can have hope. One of the first things traffickers do is “break” them. The victims then lose the will to fight and run.
How do children get sucked into being trafficked? Familiar trafficking (by someone known) is very common. Social media plays a big part in traffickers targeting children. They are predators and can recognize the vulnerable children. They know how to flatter a child and many times isolate him or her. The statistics reveal that many trafficked children have been through social services. Many do not have parents that care. Runaways will often be picked up by a trafficker within 48 hours.
That brings us to the question about what churches can do to help fight this horrific crime? Like Sheyenne, there are hundreds of thousands of children stuck in a pit from which they cannot free themselves.
—Karen Fettig is founder of Beneath Our Wings; photos supplied.