By Ted Kallman, cofounder of the Mayday Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting healing resources to hurting people and bringing visibility to the problem of human trafficking.
Like most kids in America, somewhere between fifth and sixth grade I learned how slavery used to be legal but thanks to the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution it was abolished. What they didn’t tell us is that slavery continues to ensnare individuals and ravage families around the world. Approximately 27 million people are trapped in modern-day slavery globally. Fifty percent of those slaves are children; seventy percent of the women who are slaves are trafficked into the commercial sex industry.
Last January in my quiet time before the Lord, I felt an increasing burden for not only these modern-day slaves, but for anyone who has been physically or sexually abused. As I sought God’s direction, the word “Mayday” came to mind. Mayday, as you may know, is the international cry for help. As I prayed, I saw millions of hurting souls crying, “Mayday! Mayday!” and in that moment the Holy Spirit spoke clearly to my heart.
With my wife, Claudia, we launched the Mayday Institute and began planning a series of events aimed at raising the awareness of human trafficking and sexual abuse. We want the Church to learn about Joseph, for example, a nine-year-old boy in Ghana forced to work in brutal conditions as many as eighteen hours a day, sometimes without meals. If he doesn’t work fast enough, he is beaten. (To learn how you can help rescue children like Joseph from slavery, visit SafeNotSold.org.)
But more than awareness, we want to challenge Christians to do something, which is why we have partnered with organizations like Bethany Christian Services, International Crisis Aid and Wedgewood Christian Services’ Manasseh Project.
We also want to address another form of slavery: the shame that keeps women who have been sexually abused from seeking the help they need. For example, in one of our planning meetings for our first Mayday event, a young woman quietly told us that she had been raped four years ago but had never told anyone—not even her parents—until that moment. I have come to discover that her story is not unusual, which is why we want Mayday to also encourage victims like her who are silently crying for help to receive the healing and help that they need.
Our inaugural efforts focus on West Michigan, because that’s where we live. But we’ve heard from other organizations who would like to see this become a national event. Could churches throughout North America unite on the first Sunday of May to shine the light of Jesus onto human trafficking and sexual abuse?
The original abolitionist movement had its roots in the Church, as godly leaders like William Wilberforce championed the cause of those held in bondage. As Christians from more than 100 churches partner on behalf of those 27 million modern-day slaves and countless victims in our own country who have been sexually abused, I invite you to listen to the “Mayday!” that might be speaking to your own heart. It’s hard to hear a cry for help and not do something about it.
Ted Kallman is the principal consultant for Unified Vision Group, focusing on executive coaching and project management. He and his wife, Claudia, are cofounders of the Mayday Institute.
 U.S. Department of Justice, Report to Congress from Attorney General John Ashcroft on U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons in Fiscal Year 2003 (2004).
 U.S. Department of Justice, Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons (2004)