As many of you know, Maggy, Fern, and I are going to be cross cultural workers. We have committed to at least five years of service with TMS Global. We have already accomplished two separate one week trainings in Atlanta, Georgia. Next up, is a month long training in India. Sometime in the winter, we will head to Colorado Springs for another month long course. We believe that we will be headed to SE Asia, probably Thailand. We feel called to help children that are at risk for being exploited into the sex industry. Parents often times find themselves in a tough spot, they are too poor to care for the children they have, so someone comes along and offers the parents money for the child. Many times the trafficker does not tell the parents what they are selling the child into. Often times the parents are told that they are going to go work in the city, possibly at a factory, as a maid, or in a restaurant. Yet, that is far from the truth. These kids are often trafficked into the sex industry. UNICEF has estimated that nearly 2 million children are exploited into prostitution or pornography every year. In Thailand, the Health System Research Institute estimates that 40% of all prostitutes in Thailand are children. Even back in 1980, the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand said, “I ask all governors to consider forms of sexual entertainment that attracts tourists… we must do this because we have to consider the jobs that will be created for the people.”
This is a travesty. So where do we start?
How did this all begin? First we will examine what mankind is like.
- Our sinful nature has the tendency to be corrupt and selfish. (Galatians 5:17) “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.” While God created a perfect world, God gave us free choice, with that free choice Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. This has caused all the evil in the world.
- Sin is born by our evil desire. (James 1:14-15) “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
Next, we need to look at what God is like. Our motivation to act and pray should come out of our understanding of who God is.
- He is gracious, compassionate, loving and just. (Exodus 34: 6-7) “And the Lord passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.” God loves us, after all we are all made in his image. While we might things many things on earth are unjust, asking ourselves why do bad people go unpunished and often seemingly rewarded, but we must remember that God is just and everyone will go before him for judgement.
- He is in the process of restoring his broken world; the momentum of his Kingdom is towards freedom, healing and salvation (Jeremiah 31) The Lord talks about restoring Israel in this passage. The same holds true for us. God was to restore us, take us from our brokenness and heal us and give us hope. I know the healing power of God. He has taking me from dealing with issues from war and delivered me and has even given me the strength to go out and help others.
- He does not leave his creation to its own devices; he actively works on behalf of those who suffer (Isaiah 42:6-7) I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness, I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. Maggy and I are allowing the Lord to take us by the hand and we are trusting in him that he will help us to be a light to those who don’t know Him. We are also trusting in Him that He will help us set captives free or even keep children from becoming captives.
While the Bible does not talk directly about human trafficking, we can infer from God’s nature on how he would react to human trafficking.
- Rescuing and caring for the poor and oppressed is intrinsic to God’s very nature (Psalms 146) Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.
- Jesus’ mandate was all about reaching the poor, the deceived and the enslaved (Luke 14:16-19) He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
- Jesus himself was sold (Matthew 26:14-16) Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
So, how should we react towards the issue of human trafficking?
- We must allow God to set our agenda. We need to rely on God to show us the way. Often times, we script out a well-meaning life for ourselves, yet that is not God’s plan for our life. Maggy and I had this nice script laid out for our life. I was going to be the township treasurer until I was 70, Maggy was going to keep growing produce, we were going to start Airbnb rentals. Life was going to be great! However, God has bigger plans for our life. It was difficult to realize these plans. It has been difficult to surrender ourselves to these plans, yet we are glad we have.
- We must be different in our attitudes: not allowing prejudice, arrogance or selfishness to creep into our speech and actions. We need to look at every human as they are created in the image of God. It does not matter if they are Muslim, Hindu, Prostitute, beggar, or someone living in a McMansion. We need to share the hope of God to all. Often times we are quick to judge people, myself included, yet those who we judge are those who we probably need to share the love of Jesus with the most. Think about who Jesus hung out with. It was the outcasts, the prostitutes, even the tax collectors, heaven forbid! Let’s try to approach people with Jesus eyeglasses on.
- We must be ready to let God’s compassion move us to deep, heart-felt prayer. I have always had difficulty praying. I am a very matter of the fact type of guy. Yet, God has shown me so much through this process. I would still not call myself a great prayer. Let alone a good prayer. Nevertheless, God is helping me improve. I now consciously pray about things. I am striving to be even more conscious about my prayer life and am asking God to help me with it.
- We are called upon to do whatever it takes (with our time, energy and finances) to bring about justice for those who need it. We feel very strongly on this. We want to be the agents God uses to bring about a change in Thailand and beyond. We are very thankful for those of you who have already joined with us as financial partners. We are blessed by God through all of you. As some of you know this has been a very humbling experience for me, raising support. Yet with your encouragement and God’s help, I have learned that finances are a way that many people worship God. It is not so much about us, as it is about you worshiping God by partnering with us.
In conclusion, I’d like to remind you that we were all in slavery once. We were slaves to sin. But by belief in Jesus Christ, he has set us free from that slavery and has giving us hope for today, tomorrow, and for eternity. We are so thankful that you, as a church family, have been so encouraging for us to bring this message of hope to the least reached corners of the world.