Our Christian Call to Help Refugees

By Katie Mendez


The Trump administration has decided to pull out of the Global Compact on Migration, which is intended to: address all aspects of international migration; make an important contribution to global governance and enhance coordination on international migration; present a framework for comprehensive international cooperation on migrants and human mobility; set out a range of actionable commitments; be guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda; and be informed by the Declaration of the 2013 High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development according to the International Organization for Migration’s website.

This is one of the latest moves by the Trump administration to not allow refugees in the country due to his dislike of Muslims and other ethnic groups, as demonstrated by his response to the bombing of an Egyptian mosque.

President Trump also tweeted three videos by an European alt-right organization accusing Muslims of multiple crimes, which were then proven to be false by multiple journalists, government agencies, and officials, such as Teresa May. Trump’s actions have alienated us from our allies, with many British governmental officials calling for Trump to be banned from entering the country.

Trump’s actions regarding  Muslims  and  refugees  are  important  for  multiple  reasons:  they alienate us from our allies, they give Daesh and other terrorist groups material to recruit more people, they “prove” to the Middle East that the United States never cared for them, and they violate our Christian calling to help refugees.

There are currently 6.3 million displaced Syrians with 4.5 million Syrians in hard-to-reach areas of conflict. Another 5.4 million are considered persons of concern. These refugees and populations of concern are at higher risk of human trafficking. The refugee crisis has contributed to higher rates of modern slavery in the areas of sex trafficking, labor trafficking, debt bondage, and child soldiers. Women are bought and sold at markets in Raqqa, Syria, sometimes for as much as $40,000.

While many other countries have failed to support refugees to the best of their ability, the United States is especially held accountable because it has often been the cause of much of the instability in the Middle East, often touts itself as the moral agent of the world, and consistently talks about being the richest nation in the world. Another factor sets it apart from other nations: it claims to be Christian. Further, the majority of Evangelical Christians claim that Trump is the first president to uphold Christian values in decades.

However, Trump’s actions—and many Evangelicals who support him—seem to ignore the Godly calling to help the destitute. Many seem to forget that God judges individuals and nations for their lack of support for the needy and poor: “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the  poor  and  needy”  (Eze.  16:49, ESV). The call to help the refugee is not simply an Old Testament calling that become null and void with Jesus’ death on the cross. In fact, in the book of Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that God will judge all the nations and separate its people based on who was righteous and who was not:


31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to ’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’


41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

The Bible is not silent on what God expects of us. Multiple times, God condemns nations for their lack of empathy and aid to those who needed them most. The old prophets often proclaim God’s judgement on the nations for not feeding the hungry or helping widows and orphans.

Isaiah 58 is another of the many Bible verses that speaks of God’s condemnation for what is called “false fasting”:


1 “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.

2 Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.

4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.


The true fast, God says, is:


6 to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed[b] go free, and to break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

When the United States acts, when we vote, do we vote in accordance with the true fast, or do we vote for the false fast? Is our worship useless to God? If we want to call ourselves a Christian, if we want our worship to be heard and noticed by God, we have an obligation to welcome and take care of the refugee, maybe even host them in our home, as God says in Isaiah 58:7. May we be more concerned with God’s laws than those of our government.


Katie Mendez is a senior in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core.

The Human Trafficking Crisis in Waco

By Katie Mendez


Normally, when we think of human trafficking, we think of the movie Taken—of people being sold overseas, of people in other countries. Rarely do we think of people in our country being trafficked—and, when we do, we usually think of Americans being sold to other countries, much like in the movie Taken.

In reality, human trafficking looks a little different. Human trafficking is not just an “overseas” problem. It also looks like Americans being sold to other Americans, foreigners being sold to Americans, and Americans traveling to other countries to partake in child sex tourism.

Many people are shocked to hear the extent and prevalence of human trafficking in the United States. Even more so, Texans are shocked to hear that the state holds 313,000 trafficking victims, of which 79,000 are minors being trafficked for sex.


Breaking Down “Human Trafficking”*

Human trafficking is the general term given to modern slavery that involves the sale and trade of human beings. There is, however, more than one type of human trafficking. The most common types of human trafficking—with simplified definitions—are:

labor trafficking: the selling of human beings for construction work, domestic labor, etc.;

sex trafficking: the selling of human beings into the commercial sex industry; and,

debt bondage: a type of labor trafficking in which the trafficker uses someone’s debt to hold them in slave labor.

*It is important to note that this is not a comprehensive breakdown of human trafficking, but an introduction to facilitate understanding of the rest of this blog article.

The two forms of human trafficking most seen in Texas are labor trafficking (234,000 people in Texas alone) and domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST), where minors (anyone under the age of 18, therefore, anyone who cannot legally consent to sex) are sold into the commercial sex industry. In the past, many people referred to this as child prostitution, a misnomer, given that it is impossible for children to consent. Because children cannot legally consent, any act of “child prostitution” involves rape and immediately becomes sex trafficking once they’re sold.

Although Texas is the state with the second highest rate of human trafficking, the amount of services provided are limited. UnBound, an anti-trafficking nonprofit in Waco, provides great advocacy and education programs. The Advocacy Center provides great counseling resources and helps identify current trafficking victims, but is not equipped to shelter sex trafficking survivors. Likewise, the Family Abuse Center will house sex trafficking survivors when necessary, but is not equipped to provide case management specific to the needs of a sex trafficking survivor and is often at capacity for survivors of domestic violence.

Currently, there is no safe house dedicated to the needs of sex trafficking survivors, adult or minor, in central Texas. A two-page Google search will show six safe houses for survivors of human trafficking in the state, of which only one is tailored for survivors of DMST.  These safe houses are: Refuge of Light, Mosaic Services, Redeemed Ministries, The Refuge Ranch, Refuge City, and Freedom Place, which is the safe house for DMST survivors.

A safe house start-up in Waco, SHE is Freedom, is working to open a drop-in center for survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking. While the organization has found a location, garnering financial support has been a challenge due to Waco’s economic hardships and lack of government aid.

According to the Texas government, the best method for providing aid to survivors of sex trafficking is to rely on the foster care system or to place young victims with families that volunteer to help. On the surface level, the government’s plan sounds logical—use existing state resources, such as the foster care system, or vetted volunteers outside of the foster care system, so that young victims have a supportive family unit. But this plan is better in theory than in action, according to studies conducted on the connection between the foster care system and human trafficking. One study found that “98% of children who are identified as survivors of sex trafficking had previous involvement with child welfare services, and many were legally in the care and custody of the state while they were being prostituted by traffickers.” Further, it would be incredibly difficult to find families willing to take in a traumatized, often drug addicted youth; most importantly, they would not have the training to ensure that they would not return to their trafficker. The amount of resources that would be required to train 79,000 families to handle sex trafficking survivors would be better spent in safe houses with people who are already trained by multiple nonprofits and universities.


How to Help

Donating and volunteering with anti-trafficking organizations and nonprofits is a great way to get involved. Many students volunteer with UnBound and help mentor at-risk youth. Advocacy is a very important step in prevention of human trafficking; but, we need to do more for those who have already been victimized and need to escape. We need to do more for children who are falling through the cracks of a system not built for their protection. In short, we need a safe house. We need a place tailored to provide the services, protection, and mentoring within a community of individuals who have been there, not just people who sympathize.

(If you want to donate to SHE is Freedom, the safe house start-up, you can visit sheisfreedom.org/give)

How Baylor’s Culture Contributed to Sexual Assault Scandal

Image courtesy of Baylorbears.com

It was only a little over a year ago that the rape conviction of former football player Sam Ukwuachu sparked what is now a nationally known rape scandal at Baylor University.

On August 21st, Ukwuachu was sentenced to six months in county jail and ten years’ probation for raping a fellow Baylor student-athlete. While some articles state that former football Coach Art Briles was not made aware of Ukwuachu’s troubling and violent past, other articles report that a former Boise State coach explained that Briles had been made clear about his past. Yet, even if we do not take into account that Briles may have been notified about Ukwuachu’s past, it seems that Baylor faculty and administration members may have been aware of the possible indictment, as they had taken him off the field on 2014, the year the rape took place.

Questions about whether or not Baylor has knowingly harbored rapists, intimidated their victims, and failed to provide the necessary Title IX protections brought about a significant number of investigations and cases against the Baylor Title IX office, athletics department, faculty, student policies, and Christian beliefs.

Among those questions posed, the ones that have received little attention are how the student policies and Christian beliefs espoused by Baylor have fed the crisis that has taken place. While the media has focused more on the laws broken, the Title IX office, and the backlash against victims by faculty, other students have been discussing how the student policies, culture, and Christian climate at Baylor have led to the high number of sexual assaults on campus.

It seems most students are aware that as part of its student policies, Baylor expects all students to wait until marriage for “physical sexual intimacy.” Those who do not know this is part of the student policies have most likely heard about it, but thought it was the campus joke told to freshmen. In addition to that policy, Baylor’s strict alcohol policies have created a culture of silence when it comes to issues related to a sexual relationship or alcohol abuse. This culture of silence has contributed to an environment safe for the rapists and hostile to survivors of sexual assault.

Women who have been assaulted after a night of heavy drinking are afraid to report their case for fear of judgment, lack of compassion and helpful services, and fear of possible punishment. Freshmen are less likely to report a case of sexual assault after a night of drinking because they are underage and live on campus, which means that any trace of alcohol on their person and/or in their system is punishable by fine up to expulsion. Baylor’s strict alcohol policies also result in this scenario: a freshman student gets drunk at a party, and, out of fear of being punished, decides to spend the night at another person’s house. This, while any crime committed against her would not be her fault, puts the student at greater risk to be assaulted. Yet, if she is assaulted, the Baylor community is likely to ask why she thought it would be safe or “lady-like” of her to spend the night at a stranger’s house rather than to go back to her dorm, without taking into account how its policies contributed to such a decision.

Another scenario is important to consider: two students have been dating each other for a while and have a sexual relationship. One day, one partner assaults the other. Because Baylor has a student policy against pre-marital sex, the survivor is less likely to report the assault due to a belief that his or her claims will not be taken seriously.

If we sat down and had a frank and open conversation with many female and male students at Baylor, we would find that Baylor’s policies have contributed to the silencing of survivors directly or indirectly.

Instead of running away from the accusations, we should take the time to reflect on how our culture and long-standing policies have contributed to the rampant sexual violence seen at Baylor University. Baylor had, and still has, a lot of work to do with its Title IX office, Counseling Center, Athletics Department, and other offices within the university that contributed to a hostile environment for survivors. But that is not all Baylor has to work on. Baylor must also consider how its policies regarding sex and alcohol and heteronormativity have contributed to the problems we see today.


Katie Mendez is a junior majoring in international studies. 


The Women’s March: Its Importance and Its Drawbacks

Image courtesy of Womensmarch.com


On January 21st, women from across the nation took to the streets to make a statement: they are not going to let this election and political administration take away their rights.


Women of all races, ethnicities, economic backgrounds, and from all areas of the country united to make a visual statement: women were not backing down in the face of opposition.


While many women and men who attended the marches have stated they had never witnessed so much unity, there were other groups of women within the feminist community who did not feel so welcome. Indeed, the Women’s March was the most peaceful and clean feminist march that has taken place in decades. Many women of color held up signs with snippets of their stories, making a direct appeal to President Trump’s racial, ethical, and religious incendiary messages. Yet despite the fact that many marginalized groups were welcomed into the conversation in many areas, we must allow room for the criticism and input of those who did not experience the same level of peace and unity many other women experienced.


Experiences of women of color

One Native American women created a thread on Twitter in which she detailed her experience at the Women’s March. She details the horrifying details of white women walking through their prayer group, taking pictures of them without their consent, and asking if “they” still existed.


Many black women held up signs asking women if they would be as vocal in protests against police brutality and racism. Other women pointed out that more white women voted for Trump than any other racial group.


Other minority groups speak out

Pro-life women also reported feeling left out of the conversation because of the proportion of pro-choice women over pro-life women in attendance. Differences in the ideological beliefs between these two groups sparked debate among some women, including many conversations within my group of peers.


Immigrant women also felt the need to speak out against another issue that suppresses them so much more than white women, that immigrant women and white women do not have equal initial status.


Women with physical and mental illnesses were also not given a wide stage on which they could present their personal struggles. Among many of the criticisms and pushback I have encountered is the fact that white women seemed to be enraged more over President Trump’s comment about sexually assaulting women than the incidence, his actions, or the results of his to-be-enacted policies.


Although the women’s march will always remain a bright spot in the historical timeline of Donald Trump’s presidency, we must admit that if we want to ensure equality for all women everywhere, we have to expand the conversation to other issues that may not seem to be feminist on the surface level.


Katie Méndez is junior majoring in international studies.