Sunday, March 4, 2012

27 Million Like Me

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute."  
       Proverbs 31:8

27 Million

27 Million Like Me

I've always been a passionate person. One of my many passions is helping others and sharing the joy of what it means to help those on behalf of Jesus. 

Several years ago, I learned about a horrible reality that shook my world. The brutal truth of human trafficking and the victims it affects on a daily basis made me long to do something. At the time, when I first learned about it, I had absolutely no money to do anything. I had just graduated from high school, barely had a steady income, and a whole bunch of new bills to pay for. Being innovative and quick thinking, I realized Christmas was right around the corner.

That year, when my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told them only one thing. I looked at them, praying they would see the passion radiating from my eyes. "This year for Christmas," I said, "I want only one thing. I want you to use the money you've set aside for my Christmas presents and give all of it to the girls who are trapped as sex slaves."

I knew that since it was the only thing on my list, my parents had no choice but to go for it! 

Finally, Christmas arrived. That morning, in accordance with our Christmas morning tradition, I reached under the depths our incredibly thick Christmas tree (there are six of us in my family) and appropriately distributed each present to the person it belonged to. Everyone's stack of presents began to pile up--all except mine, of course. 

Excited, I reached for the next present and read the name tag. Unable to force my body to move, I stood there. For what seemed like hours, I stared at the name inscribed on the tag. As realization overwhelmed my paralyzed senses, alarm tingled up my spine while I continued to stare at that awful name. Mine.

I laid the gift by my seat, then reached for the next the present under the tree. Now, near panic engulfed me. Again, another present for me. On and on this went, until my own pile of presents stacked high against the wall. I swallowed my disappointment and began to open them. With every present I opened, the disappointment thickened until I could barely breath from the massive lump that had grown in my throat.

Finally, with trepidation, I reached for the last present. I prayed it would be something for those girls. With dilatory movements, I unraveled the paper, lifted the box, and found a beautiful shirt inside. A shirt for me. I ran my hand over the beautiful lace. Then, I did what any passionate, dignified, twenty-two year old woman would do. I pushed the box away and broke down in tears. 

My mom stared at me. "Don't you like it?"

I managed a nod.

My father furrowed his brows. "What's wrong?"

I attempted to control my trembling lips, yet the rigid muscles only increased my taut emotions. "But--but--those girls! I have all this stuff, and they're--" another tremor ran through me--"they're still trapped."

Compassion filled my mother's eyes. "Holly," she said, "Don't you think most of those girls would appreciate these nice gifts?"

I tried to allow those words to sate me with gratitude and shame. Instead, it spurred more heartbreak. "Of course they would. But they'll never have that chance now." Without any other words, I dashed out of the living room and ran upstairs to cry.

I knew that without my help--or anyone's--those girls, who would love the shirt, would never have that chance to appreciate anything tantamount to what I received for Christmas.  

Be Her Voice, Be Her Freedom

God has called Christians to speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. Most sex slaves have been kidnapped, tricked, and forced into a lifestyle that is destructive emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. Fear of their captors makes them compliant. Fear of their captors tells them escaping will be their ultimate death. Their voice has been silenced and crippled by those who seek to harm them and gain for their own profit. 

Girls and boys as young as two are forced into this lifestyle. It's heartbreaking to realize these beautiful human beings never even had the chance to explore sex in the beauty and innocence of offering themselves to a husband or wife who loves them. Man's sin and greed stole that chance from them.

During the Passion conference this year, the leaders organized a freedom cause. During one of the morning messages, a speaker who works avidly for this cause stated there is an estimate of 27 million slaves out there, a number that is higher than it has ever been in the history of humanity. 

For us to stand by and do nothing would be to act just like the Levite or priest who encountered the broken man robbed on the road in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Rather than aide this dying man, they were too concerned with their own religious routines to stop and do anything for him. The Church is called to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. We cannot turn a blind eye to the brokenness and evil that is taking place. Nor can we do so and continue to walk away and act as though what we're offering God is of any worth when we ignore that which is right before us. 

Jesus is for these slaves, longing to see them set free and restored to what He intended. He longs to give them their purity back. He longs to embrace them and hold them in His arms while they cry over what they have faced. More than anything He longs to set them free from bondage. 

Unless we stand up and do something, it will continue to happen. 

There are 27 million out there who are just like me. Just like you. The only difference is their chance at life has been robbed from them. The sad reality is that you and I have been fortunate enough to avoid ending up in this lifestyle. We could have been one of those kidnapped and forced into this trade. We could have been on those tricked into it. But we still have our voice. Because we have ours, we must be theirs. 

Right now, there is a massive campaign going on. It's called 72 Days of Freedom for the 27 Million Slaves. This resource is packed with facts, valuable recommended resources, a PDF on 27 ways to fight slavery, a daily prayer guide, and so much more! Check it out!

Also, the Passion conference recently released a video called 27 million. This video, performed by British artists Matt Redman and L27, was actually filmed at the conference. I encourage you to watch it. If you like this song, buy it on iTunes. All the proceeds for this song will support the A21 Campaign

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