Friday, April 06, 2007

The Life of A Child Sex Slave

Who will be the modern day William Wilberforces in our generation that will speak up for the modern day slavery of child sex slaves? This is a question I ask myself. God let us not sit silent and by our silence perpetuate the evil that is done to children who You have created in your image. I attach a recent true story of a young girl whose life eptimozes the struggle and suffering of so many in Cambodia and around the world who are enduring such pain and suffering. Let us not grow complacent in believing that our hands are tied that we cannot respond to this atrocity that is taking place in our life time. God desires us to speak up for these. Let us press on to do that by beginning to bring awareness to this issue where ever we ever. With God all things are possible! Do we believe that He can end child sex slavery? I am convinced that the battle is long but the battle can be won because He who is in us is greater than he that is in this world. Will you join me and many others to take a stand against this injustice?

Dalyn, 17, was once among the thousands of young children working as prostitutes in Cambodia. Now living in a shelter, this is her disturbing account of being a child sex slave.

I was living with my grandfather in Cambodia. As a normal, happy child I did not fear anything. Then, at 12 years old, a woman asked me whether I would like to work at a garment factory. I agreed and went with her. But she sold me to the owner of a brothel in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. I felt betrayed and cheated. I thought I was going to find work. I never thought I was going to be sold like that. There were lots of other boys and girls at the brothel. I overheard two pimps bargaining and heard one of them say my price was $150 (£78). My heart sank and I started asking myself where the hell had I ended up.

I saw many couples coming in and out of the rooms. From that moment on, I knew something was seriously wrong. I was frightened and desperately wanted to ask the children what kind of place this was. A group of men came into my room and told me to receive a client. I asked what I was supposed to do. They told me: "Don't worry, you'll know what to do. And if you don't, you'll do it until you do." I refused but they told me to shut up and said that "one way or the other" I was going to have to do as they say. They dragged me out of the room and I screamed and called out for help. They put a gun to my head. I pleaded for my life, telling them this wasn't the work I had been led to believe I would be doing. But the brothel owner said: "You didn't follow anyone here. You're here of your own free will. You are a prostitute and you came here looking to work as a prostitute." I said: "I'm young and I have my future ahead of me. Please don't make me do something like this."

But then he said I would be shot if I refused. He ordered in a group of men carrying electric cables. I cried and screamed out for help but nobody came. They starved me until I agreed to go with clients. I was locked in a cage with others underneath the brothel for entire days. I was only ever allowed out when a client came. Some clients were considerate and quite kind. Others were not. If I refused to perform particular sex acts, clients would beat me up and report me to the brothel owner.
The brothel owner would also beat me and tell the other girls in the brothel to beat me too. The psychological impact was horrendous. It lives with me even to this day.
When it finally dawned on me that I was a prostitute, I felt a sense of utter disgust. I had become the very thing I most despised. It is slavery of the worst kind. They have total power over you - they get you to do anything they want.
You feel like dirt and there is nothing you can do except follow orders. You could end up dead.

I was scared right up until the brothel owner was arrested. Then I realised that we were being rescued. We were rescued by the police and the AFESIP, an organisation whose founder, Somaly Man, is a former child sex slave and famous figure in Cambodia. I was so relieved and happy. I do not know what the future will bring.
I feel it is my obligation to tell everyone that they should do everything they can to prevent themselves and others going through prostitution and all the things I had to go through. By the end of it, you will end up lower then you can ever imagine... in hell.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Compassion: The Heart of God As The Basis For Ministry

These are just some of my notes from the key note Speaker: Dr. Phyllis Kilbourn
Children At Risk – March 9 2007 (Anaheim, California)

How should compassion shape our ministry?

Compassion is a matter of the heart and not of the intellect. Unless the church begins to have moral outrage at the atrocities being done to children, unless the church begins to get angry enough to respond, nothing will change. Children are deeply valued and loved and yet we have let them become markets of exploitation for the lusts of men. Henri Nouwen’s definition of compassion is 4 fold:

1.Compassion is crying out with those in pain. It involves a deep identification with those who suffer and calls for incarnational ministry. Jesus saw the broken, the widow and the orphan and His heart was moved. Jesus moved from the most exclusive gated community to the ghettos of the world where the real suffering, pain and hurts were. Are we willing to follow our Lord in this way, to live incarnationally, to cry out with those in pain?

2.Compassion involves tending to the wounds of the poor and caring for their lives (like the Good Samaritan). It is an act of involvement that responds to the needs of the total person Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” If we are going to have a compassionate ministry, we are to have a holistic ministry. Children who are traumatized have suffered many wounds: physical, spiritual, emotional, exploited. These kids we work with don’t care how much we work with them until they know how much we care for them. Until the children can learn to trust us, they are not going to accept love on a spiritual level. Therefore, we need to be consumed with God’s compassion by tending to their wounds and caring for their lives.

3.Compassion involves advocacy. It means defending the weak and indignantly joining the oppressed in their struggle for justice. We have most lost this in the church. We are not really looking for ways to speak up as Proverbs 31:9 says: Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Children have the least opportunity for a voice, they have no voice in the government, no way to gain resources no way to speak for laws. Our moral outrage is going to have to speak up to be a voice for these children.

4.Compassion involves pleading for help with all possible means. This involves doing whatever it takes to bless these children. Not in coming in and doing our programs but offering agape---genuine biblical compassion. Willing to sacrifice to do whatever it takes to encourage them.

Stresses of caregiving
But one’s compassion can run dry. While we are clothed with compassion, sometimes our garments can get ragged. What are the reasons for the raggedness when you care for children? This ministry is physically, emotionally and spiritually challenging. The demands are endless --- this is part of the ‘sacrificing care’ where we go to the broken places of pain and weep with those in tears (H. Nouwen). It is possible that we can become exhausted as these situations can drain us because of the anger over the injustice. We need to be careful that our anger can dry out because we don’t care for ourselves. Caring for children who are abused and exploited involves intense spiritual warfare. Could it be that the children of this generation may be the last generation in proclaiming the gospel? The enemy delights in breaking the spirits of these children.

How do we mend our raggedness? Self care is important. If we fail to look after our own needs we can burnout. The story of Elijah who had won a tremendous victory at Mount Carmel and finds himself exhausted after that victory. Twice God sent an angel with fresh bread and water. Elijah laid down to eat and drink because the journey was too much for him. Some times the journey can be too much for us and Jesus modeled it with His disciples where He encouraged them to come and rest for a while. Caregiving involves balancing our needs with our care for others. How do we replenish ourselves? First, we can fail in this whole area of our spiritual lives. God is our source of compassion. He is the ‘well’ and our safety net. We can develop spiritual apathy because we neglect our walk with him. Second, we need to focus on who God is. He is a just Judge. We need to focus on His different promises. He is in control and He has ways of comforting. Third we need to reset our priorities and expectations and truly care for ourselves. If our relationship with God is not right, our relationship with our co-workers is not going to be right. Fourth, we need to establish relationships within the community. They can see things from a new bias. They can help us to detach and find areas of recreation. It is important to detach emotionally and we need to look at each of these to see where we have lost our touch.

In our brokenness, we can be a compassionate blanket of love to reach out to these children to give them warmth. May God make us that blanket of love and shape for children.

Recounting and Remembering God's Faithfulness

Boy time has flown. I can't believe the last time I blogged was on Christmas day. We are now in April and I wish I had more time to keep this blog up to date but it just seems that there are more pressing things to do. At any rate, today is Monday --- my sabbath day where I intentionally do not have any thing planned in the evening so that I can do whatever I feel like. It seems a perfect opportunity to just blog as a way of 'resting in the Lord.' But alas, there are many thoughts flowing in my mind about all the things I need to do. Isn't it funny how active our minds are. So why blog now? Well, I really want to share what has been happening because I find if I don't write it down, I will forget these spiritual markers that are shaping my journey and how easy it is to forget and not be thankful for God's faithfulness.

At the beginning of the year I expressed to the Lord my desire to experience and see the maximum amount of His glory that He would want to reveal to me. I got this idea from my favorite bible teacher Beth Moore. God has not disappointed. He continues to direct my path especially with the opportunities to share more about and bring awareness to the issue of Child prositution in Cambodia. Over these past months, the Lord has opened doors in different venues for me to speak on this issue and how grateful I am to see others who are joining with me to form an 'army of the Living God' who desire to give a voice to the voiceless. I am thankful to the 'core group' that He has raised up that encompasses 24 people (and growing) from 7 churches. Our raison d'etre is simply to use our what the Lord has given us to push ahead and raise awareness of this issue. We are excited at putting together a conference later this year on September 29th that we trust God will use to draw people near and far to come and learn and take action.

But in the midst of that, I have had the privilege of attending a Children at Risk conference in early March in Anaheim, California. It was so inspiring to be among many fellow believers who have a heart for working with children at risk. Who are these childen that are risk---they range from child soldiers, to orphans, to street kids, to children who are sexually exploited. While the problems and the challenges seem so huge, I was reminded again that we need to move from shock to seeking to make a difference one child at a time. It was great to hear of the strides being made in different corners of the world and to network with others whose hearts are committed to making a difference in the lives of the next generation. As I think of this, God has been gracious in giving me a verse that has been my vision as I enter this phase of my life. The passion to invest in these lives whose spirits have been so crushed by the lusts of man stems from my faith in God that as we commit to investing in their lives He will bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair so that they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendour. Isaiah 61:3