There is a chorus we used to sing when the stars were out as we sat huddled in front of the camp fire when I was a kid. The words go like this:

It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around will warm up to its glowing…”

I have experienced the energy of that spark in my life and witnessed what could happen when it became a shared experience. My guess is you have too. History is loaded with examples of ordinary people who saw a need, left their comfort zone, and took action–often at tremendous sacrifice to themselves and people close to them. Like sparks, they lit a fire of inspiration and courage in the hearts of others. Ripples became waves. Waves morphed into movements. The world was changed.

Some Heroes Who Had The Spark

Martin Luther King comes to mind, whose “I have a dream” speech still burns in our memory. MLK lived in a day when “the slave trade” was thought by many to be ancient history in America. His words addressed the slave inside of all of us. ThoseMartin Luther King who heard him speak would have loathed the thought of human trafficking—but it was happening then. And it is happening now.

I think of William Wilberforce, whose unyielding persistence and willingness to speak for those who had no voice provided the spark that resulted in the eventual eradication of the slave trade in England. I think of Nelson Mandela, whose 27 years of prison darkness provided a spark broke the back of Apartheid in South Africa, and all the state-sanctioned slave trades connected to it. How often from the furnace of prison affliction have there been sparks of change?

I think of William and Catherine Booth who formed and mobilized the Salvation Army in the midst of the squalid slums of London in the 1800’s. (A spark of hope burned through England, born from the heart of a son of an alcoholic who went bankrupt and in his utter poverty, when he “could no longer afford his son’s school fees, and 13-year-old William Booth was apprenticed to a pawnbroker.” How much of an “at risk youth” would young William have been today to human trafficking and the slave trade that now grips Europe?

Everyone born into this world has the power to turn it right side up. And remarkably, a very high percentage of world changers arise from low income and high risk backgrounds. Though parents may abandon or abuse these diamonds in the rough, they are God’s kids. It is our passion to rescue, encourage and empower them to make their mark on the world. Some are the great leaders of tomorrow.

Schools are targets for the vicious crime of human trafficking, particularly in Eastern Europe, where families are struggling to feed their children and any opportunity to make money for the family is very attractive. It is our privilege to combat the modern day slave trade and prevent as many as we can from being snared by traffickers.. We believe that a systematic regimen of seminars, posters and awareness efforts in schools is an effective prevention method that will rescue many young people in places like Ukraine, Moldova and Kazakhstan before they are ensnared. Will you join us?

It only takes a spark to get a fire going.

John is a social entrepreneur who, having served all of his adult life championing young people on three continents, is now speaking out passionately against global human trafficking. (Copyright 2012– Justice For Youth. All rights reserved.)