During this offseason, I was able to join the International Justice Mission on a second trip to the Dominican Republic, where they are doing incredible work fighting against the sex trade.
This year was very different from last. The first time I visited with IJM, we were able to see a lot of new things, meet people involved, and see the work that was happening on the ground. This time, expecting and hoping to see more new mission work happening, our days were mostly filled with meetings. I knew it would be hard to match the experience I had on our first trip, but these three to four days in the D.R. were incredible.
We met with government officials, the Vice President, the head of police, the head of child services and the attorney general to tell them about what IJM is doing and its mission to fight against sex trafficking. These people are really hard to gain access to, but thankfully, with seven NFL athletes in our group, we were able to set up these coveted times. Joining IJM and myself were Benjamin and Kirsten Watson, Austin and Erica Carr, Nick and Lea Novac, Sean and Christine Weatherspoon, Max Garcia, and Geremy Davis.
After these meetings, we witnessed an incredible sight. We were amazed as the attorney general spent time in a press conference to take an extremely strong stance against sex trafficking in front of all the major news stations in the D.R. The stance was so strong that we were completely fired up! On top of that statement, he also declared that IJM has every resource in the country available to them to stop this injustice.
While this was somewhat of a slower year (as far as numbers go) for IJM’s rescue operations against sex trafficking in the D.R., we recognized that the reason they didn’t head up as many direct operations was because the local police force was taking more of the weight and putting more effort into this fight as a result of IJM training and equipping them to enforce the law. This is what IJM is doing — transforming justice systems to actually protect the vulnerable from these crimes happening in the first place. This was all extremely encouraging news! We also got to have a “day of joy” with some of the survivors and IJM’s aftercare team.
This is what God is calling me to do. As a professional athlete, we gain more notice and often will gain access to people or places that others might not have easy access to. When we arrived at the Vice President’s office, she saw me and said, “I saw you make that pass in the Super Bowl! You are my favorite player!” I was a bit shocked. I know people around the world watch the Super Bowl, but you don’t fully expect this from other countries. The headline in every D.R. news and sports media outlet during our trip there shared that NFL players care.
I believe God gives us these abilities and privileges in order to glorify Him. This is not something I take lightly — we’re here to do His work. I’m 100 percent certain that sex trafficking is an issue God hates; He tells us in His Word that He wants us to care for the orphan, the widow and those in distress (James 1:27). What’s happening around the world is unspeakable. There are more than 40 million people in slavery around the world today, more than any other time in history. No one should ever have to endure these things.
— Trey Burton, Chicago Bears tight end
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.