Tag Archives: life as a missionary

The Hope Found in Sex Trafficking

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61: 1-3

I’m happy that you’re back as we dive right into the second portion of this discussion on slavery: sex trafficking.

May His will be done.

Human Trafficking. Modern Day Slavery. Child Sex Trafficking. Commercial Exploitation of Children. Forced Sex Labor. These terms are all used interchangeably to explain this one issue that undoubtedly crushes the heart of God. I can only imagine thousands upon thousands of voices that are crying out for some type of holy intervention. And the thousands upon thousands of miracles that our God performs on a daily basis that simply go underneath our radar. He is a faithful God that works in very mysterious ways. We must never forget that.

Human trafficking is an injustice that has gripped my heart for years. And it may be one that grips yours as well.

This was how it all started for me….

I was at home one afternoon enjoying an afternoon off from work, drinking coffee and browsing the internet, when I came across a CBS special report covering young Filipino girls that were ‘servicing’ English and American male tourists. As I clicked ‘play’ with a bit of hesitation, I  could not believe what I was seeing.

Here was a young boy of about 10 years old (the age of my nephew) who could barely speak English, conducting a business transaction with a male American tourist (maybe in his late 50’s). He was selling this man a thirty minute “oral fix” performed by a six year old girl (who appeared scared and confused) in a run-down tent with a small twin mattress thrown on the dusty floor. My insides immediately broke out in violent spasms as I gagged at the computer screen. Anger, bewilderment, and sadness overwhelmed my heart as I longed to jump into that scene and rescue that little girl. But, I couldn’t, and I felt helpless.

This is where my story began.

As a missionary years later in Western Australia, the Lord placed me in the red light district of Perth (right next door to a brothel in fact). Every day I  would see the faces of young Southeast Asian girls who had been trafficked (transported by coercion and force) to live lives of sexual servitude for the perverse enjoyment of Australian men. I wanted to march in that brothel with the authority of Jesus Christ and rescue those women, but the Lord only wanted me to observe and pray. Looking back, I’m thankful for His wise leading. It is through prayer that we gain His heart and perspective on an issue. I strongly encourage you beloved, to spend time at His doorsteps before you go reaching out to others.

“Listen to My instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to Me, watching daily at My doors, waiting at My doorway. For whoever finds Me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But whoever fails to find Me harms himself; all who hate Me love death.” Proverbs 8:33-36

A few months later I moved to Mexico City. For the first time,  I encountered girls (as young as 12) and women (18-45) publicly lining the streets and advertising themselves as commodities for sale in an area known as La Merced. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just for the locals (including law enforcement and government officials); tourists also knew where to find these victimized souls. We knew we weren’t welcome.  But, Jesus had other plans. Their traffickers would visibly loom around them, watching every move we made from the “window upstairs”. It was in this place that I first looked into the big, brown eyes of a young Mexican girl who shamefully looked away after five seconds of making eye contact. And I held the tender hands of a young woman who desperately wanted to be held and to know that she was worth more than a “good time.” At any moment, we could have been shot. But, Jesus is bigger than man, and more powerful than the enemy. What God willed was going to take place. So, we marched out in the authority of Christ, passing out roses to remind them of their beauty, giving them Bibles as a source of truth and encouragement, hugging their necks to show them they were worthy of love, and praying for the Lord’s mighty intervention. We saw one woman rescued from the hundreds there. But, it was still one life that Jesus died for and that was substantial. I’m thankful for the Lord’s powerful demonstration of faithfulness: we were never once injured, and He taught me that even darkness is light to Him. He has all authority and power.

“Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:12

Allow me encourage you with something, beloved.

Jesus is King. There is nothing in history that can ever undo the powerful choice He made when He willingly hung on the cross. He has overcome all evil. Death has no power over Him. And even darkness is light to our King. And do you know what makes His sacrifice so powerful? As dirty and evil as sex trafficking is, Jesus still chose to die for the souls that choose to engage in this very act. Is there anything more revolutionary than God’s love? This right here shows you that love is more powerful than death.

Now that I have shared with you what the Lord has allowed me to experience on the mission field outside of the United States, I want to encourage you in the truth. He is doing a big work here in this nation. Sex trafficking very much exists in this country, and it’s often not out in the open. And as a missionary in the States with Wellspring Living, I have learned a very valuable lesson that I’d like to share:

Focus on Jesus and not the issue at hand. There is a difference between being educated on this issue and meditating on this issue. The havoc and destruction that sex trafficking causes is derived from the most disgusting, evil one: satan himself. Let’s not focus on his temporary work, but instead on the work of Jesus Christ.

Because there is a lot He is doing to rescue, restore, and redeem these precious souls of women and children today and forevermore. I have seen the faces of girls and women who have been delivered, healed, and made completely new through the all-sustaining and ever-consuming power of Jesus Christ. And women are being rescued daily here in Atlanta. Let’s give God the amazing praise He deserves for what He IS doing! He is making what appears impossible to man, possible through Him. To God be the glory for that!

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” Proverbs 4:20-22

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

If you feel that the Lord is calling you into this area of ministry, or you simply want to learn more about what He’s doing, then check out these incredible organizations (all of which I know personally) that are doing big things through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Wellspring Living  – An organization that works hands-on with women and girls (through the aid of Christ) to restore their broken hearts and empower them for a second chance of living through Jesus. Located in Atlanta, GA.

Check out their website here: Wellspring Living

Out of Darkness – An organization that runs a 24/7 hotline with volunteers trained to answer rescue calls along with a  dedicated team searching the internet to identify the sites where underage children are being sold for sex, the exploiters who are selling them, and the johns who are buying them. This is a great ministry for men that are seeking a place to serve. Located in Atlanta, GA.

Check out their website here: Out of Darkness

Love Made Claim, Inc – An organization committed to building trust and relationships with women in the sex-for-sale industry, including women enslaved in the porn industry.  Located in Denver, CO (but attends national porn conventions).

Check out their website here: Love Made Claim

Photo provided by momslupusmagic.com

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When the Church Disappoints

When church disappoints

With my hot tea in hand and the sounds of a string quartet playing softly in the background, my mind recalls an old, rundown church in the center of the neglected Mexican town of Tepito. In its streets, you will be confronted with the poor, the sick, the rejected, and the brokenhearted. As one of the most dangerous cities in all of Mexico, Tepito really is a more-than-ideal place for Jesus to work.

One by one, the hopeless would pass through the church corridor into a small, open sanctuary. This humble room was surrounded by bleached cement blocks and rose-colored curtains hanging along the wall. Each face was scarred by misfortune and desperation; each slumped-over body was covered with torn rags.

Every week, we would enter this place with the intent of serving these very people. However, service was a challenge for us at this particular church. Usually, as foreign missionaries, we were honored for our work everywhere we went…at least in most other churches. Countless people would graciously open their homes and provide us with hot, delicious, Mexican meals. Their hearts overflowed with gratitude towards us for choosing to serve their country in the name of Jesus.

However, the pastor at this particular community was not like that. Each Wednesday morning we were greeted with a small table set with stale cookies and instant coffee.  Some would see this meager offering as disrespectful to us, or perhaps a blow to our missionary egos. In retrospect, it truly was one of the greatest blessings I could have ever received. Jesus convicted my heart with the truth that if I didn’t eat them, I would cause more harm than good. Never knowing if these old treats were intentionally given to us, or if they honestly were from the best of their supply, I excitedly ate them.

“Eat them for Me, Christy,” Jesus whispered into my heart, “Honor them for My sake, even if they don’t honor you. The church is My bride.” This, beloved, was an opportune time to give the benefit of the doubt and avoid the assumption that they intended anything but the best.

One specific episode at this church is seared into my mind like a piece of raw meat hitting a hot, cast iron grill. In an effort to create a new parking lot for the local congregation, we relentlessly shoveled up red clumps of hard dirt, enduring the blazing noon sun. Sweating for the sake of Christ felt great, and in all honesty, I enjoyed the manual labor. As lunch time arrived, the local homeless began to fill the church.

Our team had just been called inside to sit family-style around a large plastic table to enjoy the fruit of the cook’s labor and enjoy fellowship with the homeless. As we sat down, we were informed that cow testicles were on the menu for lunch. Because we were missionaries, we were prepared to eat whatever is served. Whether that would have been more stale cookies, an internal organ with a ferocious smell, or the reproductive organs of a cow. We felt the same about any work we were tasked with – whatever was asked of us, we did it, and we wanted to complete it with absolute excellence. This church taught me that.

However, before we could even respond, the cooks jovially instructed us that we didn’t have to eat it. We could eat rice and beans with corn tortillas, and they would be just fine. After all, more cow testicles would then be available for the many empty stomachs that sat just across the room. So we kindly obliged after they insisted it wasn’t necessary for us to eat them.

Never again will I make that choice. A few minutes later, the pastor began peering over our heads, closely inspecting the contents of our plates. He then began cursing in Spanish, and within seconds he was enraged, dishing out one insult after another. Instead of receiving even a pat on the back for our work and feeling the contentment from the appreciation of others, we were cursed.

Never had I seen anyone in a church treat others so poorly. I can still remember the rage and humiliation that welled up inside me.

My team stared in complete confusion as the pastor went on one rant after another: “You’re not missionaries, you’re not real missionaries. You don’t belong here…” His anger was so fierce, it was scary.  Serving as one of the team’s translators, I knew I had a choice to make. I could tell them, word for word, how he just slandered us. Or I could quietly step away and resolve the matter with Jesus.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:3-7

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

I had to hold back my tears as I quickly walked to the bathroom, locked the door, and sobbed. I was devastated. I was angry. I wanted to hit him. I hated him. I hated his church. I hated being there. How dare he treat me this way when I’ve eaten his stale cookies, scrubbed his floors, cleaned his bathrooms, and dug up hole after hole of his outdoor lot? Who was he to say I wasn’t a missionary? I left the comfort of my home to serve this little church. I left my job to come serve his country. Who was he to treat me this way? I remember the throbbing pain I felt as my knuckles rammed the bathroom tile walls. I was so angry.

My entire team was still out in the foyer awaiting my return. Everyone knew something was wrong, but what would I tell them? “Please help me Lord. Please help me,” I pleaded with Jesus as I continued sobbing.

Then the Holy Spirit showed up and reminded me of a prophecy I received right before I left the U.S.: “You will be deeply wounded and humiliated by a leader in the church. It will be an attempt to blow out your flame of faith, but keep ignited for Jesus.” I remembered the pit I had in my stomach when this word was spoken to me just weeks before I left to Australia. Yet, now I felt comfort, thankful that the Lord had faithfully prepared me for this unexpected moment.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” 2 Corinthians 11:30

Join me tomorrow as I share how Jesus saved me that day, and showed me the importance of placing our trust not in church leaders or His bride, but in Him alone. Through Christ, we can love anyone enough to know that even if they meant to hurt us for harm, the Lord will still use it for good.  Be encouraged beloved, that even in the midst of the most trying times, He is faithful. Look to Him.
Photo provided by improving church.com
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