If you threw up a few prayers for me and our crew on Monday, thank you.
It meant everything to me, really everything. To all of us. Thank you.
A moment before walking into Congressman's Altmire's office, I couldn't steady my hand to text Paul. My heart raced. An ugly thought sneered, "You don't even know what you're talking about."
And then we walked in. Me. Pastor Charles. Amy Gerwig.
And I felt peace. And confidence. And strength that wasn't my own. It seemed like we all did.
We laid a framework for our involvement in the issue.
We provided stats:
* 158,000,000 children are victims of human trafficking (Actually, I blanked on this stat, so I just said a very vague, "UNICEF estimates that there are millions...oh well.)
* Children that are trafficked are engaged in the worst forms of child labor:
* Enslavement that endangers the physical and moral well-being of children, debt bondage, mandatory military involvement, use of children for drug production and trafficking, use of children for prostitution and pornography, etc.
* The US State Dept lists trafficking as the world's third largest criminal enterprise.
We respectfully asked for his support and cosponsorship of HR 2737:
This bill, called the Child Protection Compact Act of 2009, allots 50 million dollars over three years to the State Department's Trafficking In Persons office (TIP.)
With that money, TIP would provide grants to a number of different National Government Organizations, including International Justice Mission, World Vision, Amnesty International, The Polaris Project, Equality Now, Sojourners, etc.
With previous grant money received over the last 5 years, IJM has been able to investigate foreign pedophiles, obtain official release permits for children enslaved in work camps, and provide after-care services to children who have been rescued from the "industry."
(On a side note - in one city in the Philippines - over a 2 year period of working with local law enforcement - IJM has seen a 75% reduction in child prostitution - 75%!!!!!!!!!!) IJM's work is incredible.
Though IJM has been supportive of current TIP grant making, the money has been widespread (distributed to 43 countries and over 100 different NGO's) but not sufficient enough to eradicate a problem of this magnitude.
That's why this bill is asking for more. The goal is an abolition of slavery in our lifetime.
Lots of questions.
Lots of talk that flew over my head (technicalities of the bill process.)
A friendly and informative conversation, certainly a foundation for future advocacy meetings.
Bad news: He didn't sign on the dotted line to co-sponsor the bill right then and there.
Good news: It certainly sounded as though he would in the near future, after reading the bill in its entirety. And we have contact information for 2 of his staffers, in the local office and in Washington. We are to check back in 2 weeks if we haven't heard anything about his support first.
So it's a start.
Please keep praying. For a commitment to be made on his part. For meetings around the nation just like this one. For the bill to be passed. And for the money to impact millions of children internationally.
Thanks, again, for supporting us if you did.
And keep an eye out for that young Amy Gerwig. I knew Pastor Charles would be awesome with Altmire. He has wisdom and knowledge and a quiet confidence and articulation...
But Amy, man. For 18, she was the bomb! Fearless and smooth. She made the situation personal to Altmire because he thought of his own daughters (with comments she made.) I was so proud of her. You go, girl!
Bet she never thought she would ask for 50 mil either.