The Journey Begins

Posted: December 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

Originally written on November 19, 2012 as part of a letter to my first supporters and prayer partners.  I have been blessed by them all!

It’s been said that “A journey begins with a single step.”  My journey began years ago when I learned about child trafficking and the vulnerable children in Thailand.  My “single step” was a commitment I made to God that, if He ever gave me the opportunity, I would go to Thailand to learn more about this terrible thing, and find out what I can do about it.

In the Bible, we read something similar.  The writer of Hebrews, speaking of Abraham, said “He went out, not knowing where he was going.”  Apparently, when I took that first step of commitment, expecting it to be in the direction of Thailand, God had another place in mind.  Before I knew it, I was on a plane to Ukraine, where I met many amazing people, and one little girl in particular.  Her situation was not like what I was expecting to find in Thailand, but it was certainly dire.  And God had me take another step – a really big one – along with my family, as we adopted that little girl, brought her home, and made her part of our family.

Now, fourteen years later, she is grown, doing great, and on her own, and we are proud of her, and so happy that God sent us to Ukraine.   But now … well, He’s reminded me of that first step long ago, and  He’s given me that opportunity to go to Thailand; clearly, this is His appointed time.  Once again, I really don’t know “where” I’m going.  Oh, the places, I do know; I have the full itinerary right in front of me.  But I’m not really sure where God is taking me, other than  “to learn about child trafficking and what you and I can do about it.”  Beyond that, I’m not sure, but here’s what I do know:

  • Thailand is the number one destination for foreign pedophiles seeking children to abuse.  More of those men come from the US than any other country.
  • The average age of a girl’s first victimization by commercial child sex abusers is 11.  For many, it’s 8, and for some, as young as three.
  • Once a child becomes a victim, they are usually kept under lock and key, held as slaves, forced to “serve” as many as 30 “clients” every day.
  • The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) in Thailand is complex and deeply ingrained.  Poverty plays a huge role, as parents face the decision of selling a daughter or not having enough money to feed her and her siblings.  Deception can involve traffickers making promises to a parent that his daughter will be taken to the city, offered a good job, and send money back home to feed the family. Lack of education strips children and their parents of most other options.  That’s just the beginning.
  • Given the pervasiveness of the problem, there is a monstrous shortage of organizations and facilities addressing this problem in Thailand.
  • The response to the situation is also complex. Prevention seeks to educate, equip and empower parents, caregivers and the children themselves to avoid the trap that is being set for them.  Prevention also works to help governments establish and enforce action against perpetrators. Rescue may include such things as brothel raids resulting in the freeing of the victims, or it may be rescuing street children from the extremely high risk of being trafficked.  Restoration includes providing safe shelter, a real, loving home, counseling and skill development to enable the child to become free and productive in their own society.  For Christian ministries like Zoe, it also includes teaching the children about Jesus, his love, his healing power, his forgiveness, and his wonderful plans for their lives – plans of a hope and a future (Jer 29:11).

More than anything else, I know that there is still a lack of awareness.  While more and more people are becoming aware of the scourge of CSEC, few know enough to also know what they can do.  So they look away, shaking their heads, and asking, “Now that I’m aware, what can I do?”  Hearing no answers, they just walk away, trying for forget what they have just learned.

This is what I hope to change.  I want to help people find the answer that that question, “Now that I’m aware…?”  But I can’t do that until I first get my feet on the ground, get the problem in my face, and the faces of children burned into my mind and heart.  Once that happens, I believe I’ll find out what God has for me next.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s