Human Trafficking

Human trafficking, the second largest and fastest growing illegal trade in the world, is modern-day slavery wherein people are in bondage through fraud, force or coercion.

According to the U.S. Department of State and the organization Free the Slaves, between 12.3 and 27 million people are trafficked worldwide at any time. That’s approximately the total population (27 million) of Texas and Louisiana. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes estimates the total value of human trafficking to be $32 billion. That’s roughly the gross domestic product of Guatemala. Human trafficking is currently the second largest illegal trade, just behind drug trafficking, which puts it ahead of illegal drug and weapons sales. Within this vast trade in human lives, women and girls account for 70 to 80 percent of all humans trafficked worldwide.

Therefore, the ELCA not only attends to ending human trafficking and caring for survivors, it also addresses root causes of trafficking, such as poverty, hunger, and sexism.

You can participate in ending human trafficking and help raise awareness about it in your congregation and community!


Report suspicious activity related to human trafficking at 1-888-3737-888.

Hotline Call Specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to take reports from anywhere in the country related to potential trafficking victims, suspicious behaviors, and/or locations where trafficking is suspected to occur. All reports are confidential. Interpreters are available.

Read about the United States Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Learn about victim protection, prosecution of traffickers, prevention and anti-trafficking programs. You can also read their annual “Trafficking in Persons Report” (commonly called the “TIP Report”) about the actions countries are taking to combat trafficking in persons.

Call or write to your congressional leaders, urging them to take a strong stand on anti-trafficking and protection for survivors. To find your elected officials, go to our advocacy page here.

Connect with the ELCA’s Washington Office and the Lutheran Office for World Community. Connect with the Washington Office through e-Advocacy and learn about national and international Lutheran advocacy at the United Nations.

Cherish Our Children

Cherish Our Children is a national Lutheran ministry of prayer, education, relationship-building and action to prevent child sexual exploitation, a form of human trafficking. The heart of Cherish Our Children is in congregations, where leaders work in teams to pray, speak and act on behalf of children in the congregation and community. Visit their website to become a participating congregation, make a donation, and join their email list to subscribe to newsletters and their Wednesday Prayer.

Learn more in order to be an effective change agent.

ELCA Social Message on Commercial Sexual Exploitation

Adopted by the Church Council of the ELCA in 2001, this message addresses commercial sexual exploitation from a Lutheran faith perspective. Study questions and activities are also provided.

Women of the ELCA provides information and resources specifically related to sexual exploitation. Check out their resource.

ELCA World Hunger works to address the root causes of hunger, which include poverty, racism and sexism. Learn more.

Join with other religious and secular partners to raise awareness about and end human trafficking in your community.