While serving as the reigning Miss Universe in 2017, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters was sitting in her car in South Africa when five men broke in and robbed her. As she tried to escape, one of the men pushed her back in the car and attempted to force her to ride with them. Thankfully, Demi’s father had trained her in self-defense and she escaped her attackers.
But as she ran off, she tried to get help from people in the cars around her. Almost everyone ignored her.
Stunned by the lack of people willing to help, Demi determined that she would not do the same. She vowed to help victims in any way she could.
“I don’t want to be one of the 30, 40 cars that did nothing, absolutely nothing, to help someone in need,” Demi said this week on the Sports Spectrum Podcast. “I want to be that person, as much as I can, to be a helping hand and be a voice for someone that might not be able to speak for themselves.”
That experience changed her perception of human trafficking. It opened her eyes to the evils and reality of something didn’t even think still existed. So she dedicated her life to combating the evil, and she now does so with International Justice Mission and her husband, former NFL and pro baseball player Tim Tebow, who’s currently trying to make the Jacksonville Jaguars roster as a tight end.
“That incident really broke my heart for women, men and children worldwide,” Demi said. “I think it opened my eyes to a really great evil that I didn’t necessarily realize existed in this day and age. … It’s one thing when you don’t know and you’re not able to do anything about it, but it’s another thing when you know and choose not to do anything about it.”
Approximately 40.3 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, Demi said. Despite the magnitude of this issue, many people are not knowledgeable about it. The same was true for Demi, prior to a carjacking that caused her to be fearful for her life.
The incident also allowed her faith in Christ to grow even more. Because of the love she and Tim have for God and for other people, they can help others.
“I personally believe that it’s only by the grace of God that I am able to turn that mess into His message; not just my own message but His message,” Demi said. “And that terrible trial has led me into helping other people achieve a triumph.”
Although we’ve completely crushed all of our goals thus far, I don’t want that to limit us. I want us to keep going, keep pushing for every image bearer of God trapped in human trafficking, so that they can live a life of hope and freedom, just as God has called us to do 💜 pic.twitter.com/KSmqPagDQR
— Demi-Leigh Tebow (@DemiTebow) June 28, 2021
Since both Demi and Tim have developed large platforms and the fame that comes with them, they use these to bring awareness to human trafficking. Through the Tim Tebow Foundation, they bring aid to victims, as well as awareness to those who do not understand the extent to which human trafficking exists. While Demi loves the platform she has, she also recognizes its value comes from how it can serve others.
“It’s wonderful having a title,” Demi said. “It’s wonderful having a platform. It’s wonderful wearing a pretty ball gown and a tiara and a sash and people asking for your picture. But what does that mean when you can’t use it for something bigger than yourself?”
Even though the problem is much too large for any one person to tackle alone, by giving what they can, people can better the lives of so many others, whether or not the they have the same level of publicity as Demi and Tim Tebow.
“I don’t think we need to do something extravagant to be able to have a meaningful, life-changing impact on someone’s life,” she said.
Demi says one big way to help would be through financial contributions to organizations such as International Justice Mission and the Tim Tebow Foundation. This money could go toward providing homes for survivors, as it’s estimated that only 1,800 beds currently exist in the U.S. for survivors. The money may also be used to feed survivors, who can eat for a week from a donation of just $26.
People can also help by educating others on the issue.
“It’s as much as just having a conversation with your neighbor,” Demi said. “It’s as much as a parent just educating their children on making wise decisions.”
No matter how others help, everything given to such organizations goes toward ending the evil afflicting so many in this world. Demi recognizes that 40.3 million people is a large number to attempt to save, but she refuses to let that discourage her. She instead focuses on saving as many lives as she can.
“I get motivated because even one life is worth it,” Demi said. “One woman, one child, one man is worth it. That is why we need to keep fighting, need to keep having these conversations, because even just saving one life is worth it.”
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