Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Spin of All Shades

Written by: on January 19, 2020

In a lot of ways, the secular world wants the same thing as the emergent Christian world. There is just a difference in finding the answer. A philosopher and out-spoken atheist, Richard Rorty, once wrote: “My sense of the holy is bound up with the hope that some day my remote descendants will live in a global civilization in which love is pretty much the only law.” Well, Mr. Rorty … welcome to HEAVEN! “God is love. In Him there is no darkness.” Isn’t it sad that atheists can’t feel His presence on earth, so they can experience it in Heaven? One of life’s many mysteries…

In A Secular Age, the author explores that the shift to secularity consists of a move from a society where belief in God is unchallenged to one where it is one option among others and not the easiest to embrace.[1] The “options” are what people often grasp onto. I had the opportunity to listen to the stories of human traffickers (pimps) while counseling at Kalamazoo Probation Enhance Program (KPEP). Traffickers do not see themselves as being in the wrong, since they are just providing “products” to the supply-and-demand of the customer. (It is true that if there was no customer, there would be no human trafficking in this world.) A trafficker is a person who controls their commodity (usually young girls) and arranges clients for them, taking their earnings in return. Yet, I’ve spoken with traffickers who still see themselves as Christians. Their skewed ideas that the Christian world allows one to “pick and choose” their own value system allows them to believe that they are not turning from God – because they are just working to meet the needs of their clients. One trafficker stated that he is an engaged Catholic, who is just fulfilling his calling.

Nearly half of traffickers have shared that they entered the trafficking world because they grew up around it. To many of them, exposure to the sex trade industry as children made the trade seem like a normal, acceptable means to earn a living. One trafficker told me that he doesn’t lock his girls up and they can leave whenever they want. “It’s their choice,” he said. Yet, the victim has most likely lost her home and all her possessions while living in the trafficking world, been introduced to drugs, and would then be free to live on the streets, because of her dependency on the support of the trafficker. So, the trafficker feels vindicated of any blame on him, because there are no locks on the doors.

In Smith’s How Not to be Secular, the author is laying out a vision of resisting the spin of all shades.[2] The “spin” is what allows people to make Christianity fit within their world versus Christians fitting within the world that God created for us to live in within His well-defined blueprint for life. The author explains that even Taylor agrees, though, that ardent secularism is not always appreciated or embraced secularity at all times. He acknowledged that in some fleeting moments, even the secularist is struck by a sense of something more – “a fullness that wells up within,” which is seeking more out of eternity.[3]   Thank you, Holy Spirit!

How can we be a light to others in the secular world? Pastor John MacArthur wrapped it all up in a few questions: “You are the only Bible some unbelievers will ever read. What do others learn from you? Do they see an accurate picture of God?” Just saying….

[1] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 3.

[2] James K. A. Smith, How (Not) to be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2014), 18.

[3] Ibid, 20.

About the Author

Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

15 responses to “The Spin of All Shades”

  1. Andrea Lathrop says:

    Nancy, the consumerism and commodification that is seen in the stories you shared about sex traffickers is crazy. And yet, if everything is a commodity and profit is king, one can understand how we’ve arrived at this place unfortunately. I appreciate your involvement and passion around this, bringing light to dark places.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thank you so much for your response, Andrea. I agree – human trafficking is a dark world, but a world that I hope I can help bring some awareness to. It’s definitely been a journey. Thank you for your kind words.

  2. Jenn Burnett says:

    I really appreciate your insight into the faith of human traffickers. It makes me think of slave owners in the early church, and then throughout history. It is far too easy to go along with what is familiar culturally. I find this one of the benefits of dialoging cross-culturally. Christians in one area are often more sensitive to certain directives than others. For example war can also lead to Christians justifying behaviour that others would deem unconscionable. May the Lord continue draw us together to call one another to ever faithful living.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      I agree with your correlation to the slave owners, Jenn. Human trafficking can be both labor trafficking (as your slave owner analogy) as well as sexual trafficking. I appreciate your insight and I thank you for your response, Jenn. Blessings, my friend!

  3. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Excellent connection to your research, Nancy. Human justification is a powerful form of self deceit and we are all guilty of it. This example is extreme and is no doubt justified in their minds because of secularism all around them. Given the myriad of options, it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary to them. A challenging opportunity we have.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      It is going to be challenging, Tammy. It amazes me that traffickers feel ‘justified’ in what they do. I can’t imagine what these young girls go through at the hands of their buyers. It is such a depleting experience for them. Yet, awareness is taking place and hopefully I can save a ‘starfish’ or two. Blessings to you!

  4. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Thanks so much for connecting Smith and Taylor’s work with your research on anti-human trafficking. Your observations from your interviews from the “profit center managers” of human trafficking are both sad and staggering. I think Jenn is spot-on with the analogy of Christian slave owners. It is amazing what the human creature can justify even in the name of Christ(ianity). Yes, moving forward, how do we light up the darkness of others swimming in the waters of our secular age? To your research’s point, how do we shut down the demand side of the economics of human trafficking?

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Oh, Harry, I only wish I had the answers! I believe the demand side is driven by pornography and mental illness. With that being said, shutting down the pornography sites and tackling mental illness is the answer. But it’s a huge fight! I am always praying for answers….

      Hugs to Gloria … and to you!

  5. Karen Rouggly says:

    Great post, Nancy, and well done connecting this to your research. I am saddened to hear that traffickers consider this “living out their calling”. What a sad picture of vocation and calling! Thanks for the work you do, it’s so needed in this world!

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks so much for your response, Karen. I appreciate your viewpoint on this problem. It is such a sad situation when traffickers don’t believe they are wrong – and traffic victims don’t always realize they are traffic victims. It’s become too common for traffickers to feel justified and traffic victims to accept their situation. So many changes need to take place. Thank you for caring!

  6. Shermika Harvey says:

    Nancy thank you for connecting this to your research. Every time I read your post concerning human trafficking it tugs on my heart for I share in your passion to fight this epidemic in the spiritual and natural realm. Thank you for your continuous pursuit to bring about change.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      It’s a huge problem in the world, Shermika. Human trafficking is the second most profitable crime in the US. Awareness is starting to take place, but it’s been a slow journey. Creating awareness is only the first step, but a necessary one. From there, programs need to be developed, safe houses need to be created, and counseling services must be available for all victims. Praying for God’s touch….

  7. Nancy,
    I love the way you are passionate about rescuing and empowering the victims of sex-trafficking as well as reaching out to the traffickers. In this “secular age” where anything can be justified, its important to understand how as Christian witnesses, we must remain relevant and adapt to the “new conditions of belief”. I have learnt alot from you about the world of sex-trafficking which, I encounter in my context of ministry though I’m not directly involved in, as part of our ministry. I’m however becoming more aware of the existence of this problem in the communities that we work in and using that knowledge to respond positively when we encounter victims of sex-trafficking. Thank for for always sharing this knowledge and insights.

  8. Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Thank you for your kind words, Wallace. I am glad that awareness is taking place for many of us regarding this problem. I wish I had all the answers. I don’t…but God does. Praying for clarification of where the needs are and how I can best help. Blessings to you as your awareness continue to grow, Wallace.

  9. John Muhanji says:

    Wow! What a connection between human trafficking and secularism in our society. I am happy that we are together in this class and through your writing, I have been able to learn a lot of human trafficking in our communities. Your story of human traffickers taking their business like any other business of meeting the needs of their clients and making money and being part of the economic development of the country. Secularism is a way of life just any other type of life. You are such an incredible team, Nancy. I am blessed to be in this cohort together.

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