Wednesday, October 30, 2013

CAMBODIA: Breaking The Silence

When it comes to sex trafficking we CANNOT be silent any longer!

God gave my dear friend Nicole a clear vision after her December 2012 trip to Cambodia with Life Outreach International.  She saw firsthand the intense evil surrounding the trade of sex-trafficking.  She met young girls locked up in brothel rooms forced to service 8-10 men a night.  She witnessed girls being herded into brothels like cattle wearing numbers across their chest, waiting for a man to "purchase" them and do to them whatever they like.  She talked with mothers who were tricked into selling their daughters to sex traffickers believing they were sending their daughters away to a life they couldn't give them with better opportunities; completely deceived to the reality that their daughters would be beaten, electrocuted, and tortured into becoming sex slaves. 

Nicole was completely and utterly heartbroken as she witnessed this modern day slavery.  

The 10-1 brothel room
She also became very aware of the truth surrounding the enslavement of over 27 million people across the world:  Regardless of nationality, victims are systematically stripped of their identity, battered into gruesome submission, and made to perform humiliating sexual acts on up to 40 strangers every night. Most are held in dingy apartments and brothels, forced to take heavy doses of illegal drugs, and monitored very closely. Victims are often thrown into such ghastly oppression at 13 years old. Some are abducted outright, while others are lured out of poverty, romantically seduced, or sold by their families. [Nefarious]

As her heart broke for the millions of people victimized AND as the truth permeated her mind, she knew God was asking her to enter the battle and fight against this social injustice.

Thus the reason for our trip to Cambodia.  Her goal for our team was to go into the remote villages in the Cambodian countryside and educate the people about trafficking in hopes to prevent parents from being tricked into selling their daughters.

Our team spread this anti-trafficking message, coupled with the Gospel message of hope, to over 2,500 Cambodians.  We traveled to four villages and three high schools where (at each location) we were welcomed by a crowd of over 400 people.  

Our Program:

First Chetra & Vadna, our local missionary couple, used anti-trafficking charts written in the Khmer language to educate the people. 

Then Nicole shared (with translators) her childhood story of sexual abuse and the stories of several Cambodian mothers whom she had met on her last trip who were both tricked into selling their daughters.  She told the heart wrenching details of one mother, Yem, who unknowingly sold two of her daughters.  One daughter returned with extreme mental and physical disabilities and the other she has never heard from again. 

Nicole proclaimed to each crowd:  "Do not believe these evil people.  They will promise your daughters a good job and great money, but they are lying.  They will hurt your daughters.  So please protect your girls.  Send them to school, this will ensure a good job and salary in the future."

Then Nicole talked to the people about her book, Hush, and about how the only reason she has overcome the abuse she suffered for nearly a decade as a child was because of JESUS.

Then Nicole handed the microphone off to Janice & I to share the Gospel.  Many raised their hands and accepted Jesus right then and there.  We had a local Christian pastor with us at each location to follow up our sharing with more information for the people regarding where they could attend church and receive a Bible. 

Then Meagan & I led a "special number" teaching the Cambodians the song & motions to "If You're Happy and You Know It!"  Meagan and I both commented to each other about how FUN this part of our program was.  Seeing their smiling faces laughing and singing along was, for lack of a better word, AWESOME.

Then we passed out shoes to the children, Hush books (translated in their language) to the high school students and adults, and writing pads with a ruler & pen to the students.  

Finally we said our goodbyes and took lots of pictures. 

As I looked about the crowds at each of the villages and high schools we went to I ALWAYS picked out a young girl amongst the people.  A girl sitting on her mother's lap, a girl dressed in her school uniform, a girl smiling and playing like young girls should, a girl with her whole future ahead of her. 

And I prayed with all my heart, "Dear Jesus, may her parents hear this message today.  May they protect this beautiful young girl.  May they give her a future by sending her to school.  May they never out of financial desperation OR deception sell this precious girl into modern day slavery.  And may she meet Jesus today and be forever changed by His love."

Since having a daughter, my heart's cry for the protection of these young girls has been deeper and stronger.  Because I simply CANNOT imagine what it would be like if I were one of these mothers who had been tricked.  I simply CANNOT fathom the immense grief and torture I would feel finding my child wasn't getting an education or given a good job, but rather that she was being beaten and tortured into submission to then perform horrendous sexual after another.

It's hard and emotionally disturbing to even think about our own children enslaved in this fashion.  But we must.  Because when we do, we understand how vital it is that we do whatever is possible to fight against this injustice. 

It is this understanding that drove Nicole and I (and the rest of our team) to travel half-way across the world.  Because if we could stop just ONE girl from becoming a victim, it was ALL worth it.

I suppose we will never know how many girls were saved as a result of our educational message.  We hope and pray there will be many.

One thing we DO know is that hundreds of these young girls (and their families) heard about the love of Jesus and invited Him into their hearts.  

This Jesus is the one...
who proclaims freedom for the prisoners & releases the oppressed [Luke 4:18],
who brings peace in the midst of trouble,
who tells His people to "Take heart! I have overcome the world," [John 16:33]
and who unconditionally and beautifully loves each and every person in this world.

It is His love that drove us to those villages and high schools.

And as I walked the streets of Cambodia, held the hands of orphan children, handed out shoes to the poor, hugged the least of these, educated, and spread the Gospel message I fell madly and deeply more in love with Him.  And I prayed and prayed that the Cambodian people would as well.  For His affections toward them; His love for them is their only TRUE hope.

So we MUST teach our children about His love.  And we must teach them to do what He has shown us is good:  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God. [Micah 6:8] 

As our children truly understand how deep His affections are for them, His love will passionately drive them to fight against injustices in this world.   

May I end with a request?  We have spent the last 9 months praying for our own children, but TODAY I'd like us to pray for the millions of children enslaved all over the world.  And also, for those beautiful Cambodians with whom I spent 10 days with. 

Together, on our knees

The Enemy of our souls is at work in this world.  His evil is devastating.  But we cling to the truth that You have overcome this world and all the evil within it.  So with humble faith we ask that You would overcome and end this modern day slavery of sex trafficking. 

We beseech Your throne and pray You would bring justice for the millions of children enslaved.  We know that You love justice and that the earth is full of Your unfailing love [Psalm 33:5].  Would you secure justice and uphold the cause for these poor and needy children! [Psalm 140:12] 

We believe that You long to be gracious and that You rise to show compassion, for You are a God of justice! [Isaiah 30:18]  Would you be gracious and compassionate to the people and children in Cambodia, would You be their God of justice!

For Cambodia, would You, "Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.  Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." [Psalm 82:3-4]

And would you stir within us AND our children a passion to fight injustice.  Teach us to be Your hands and feet & to battle this wretched evil.  May we never turn a blind's eye or deaf ear to those enslaved.  May we fight for justice and obey Your call to Act Justly!

To You be All The Glory!!!  We are forever changed by Your love and forever drawn to tell of it ALL OVER THE WORLD. 

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