But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream… (Amos 5:24)
Twenty-seven million people are enslaved in the world today. In a few years, Natasha could be one of them. The Church needs to be aware of the factors that make people vulnerable…and take action to prevent, rescue, and restore.
Natasha* and John* are only ten years old. By 2020, they will be entering adulthood. Natasha knows poverty and neglect in Eastern Europe; John is growing up in the more comfortable but equally broken West.
What does John need to become a protector instead of a predator? How can we help address Natasha’s vulnerability so that she does not become a victim of exploitation? How can the Church change the world in which they will grow up?
I pray for a Church that grapples with its own brokenness so that it can engage with the brokenness in the world. I pray for a Church that is inspired and engaged on behalf of the least, the lost, and the lowliest…in its community, and around the world.
I pray for Natasha, and for John.
John is already active online; he spends hours each week surfing the web. Although John is aware that pornography is “bad”, he is drawn to the images that flood his computer screen and television. John joins half of all men in the Western Church who struggle with pornography. His Sunday school teacher has never considered talking with her class about God’s good plan for sex. After all, they are just children.
Natasha’s parents are too overwhelmed by their own problems to consider hers. The high unemployment rate in her country means that her father has been unable to find and keep a job; hopeless, he drinks to numb his feelings of failure. Natasha’s mother works two jobs to keep food on the table, and the long hours are taking a toll on her health…and her patience with her young daughter.
What do John and Natasha need?
… a Church that teaches both of them that men AND women are made in the image of God with dignity, value, and purpose. I pray for a Church that will encourage and affirm the gifting of women as well as men, and give them a place to exercise those gifts to build up the Body of Christ.
… biblical foundations and accountability as they learn to steward their sexuality. As children of the fall, we are all broken by sin. We see this brokenness in every area of our lives, including our sexuality. I pray the Church will recognize that its people need biblical teaching and support in order to steward their sexuality in a way that honors God. We must foster a willingness to address issues that bind people in fear and shame, and support them on the road to godly living. John’s culture encourages him to see women as objects, an extension of the other things he is pushed to consume. Natasha’s struggle arises from her awareness that others have the things she lacks. Her longing for the “good life” of fame and fortune will make her vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals.
… a Church that rejects materialism and consumerism. As society validates their desire to consume, both need support to develop a godly worldview and lifestyle choices that reflect those values.
… strong families. What protects children? What has always protected them—families! Among the least glamorous but most effective ways to combat trafficking is to invest resources in building strong marriages and healthy homes. Satan is out to steal, kill, and destroy everyone. Prostitution hurts women, but it also enslaves its clients and destroys marriages and families. Anything that strengthens families, conversely, fights trafficking. Children from healthy homes are less likely to be abused, or to become abusers.
… a Church that understands what makes people vulnerable in its community, and works to prevent that vulnerability. I pray for churches that recognize and address abuse, which compromises the future of so many children around the world.
There are many risk factors and even more problems. It can seem overwhelming. However, this also means that there are many possible solutions and opportunities to address the issue. Our solutions are only limited by our (divine) inspiration…and its source! The sky is not the limit, as my husband often says.
Together, we can begin to address issues of systemic injustice, and become advocates for the voiceless. We can reach out in compassion to those victimized by prostitution and trafficking.
We can embrace the challenges of restoration and devote resources to offering sustainable alternatives, including creating jobs for prevention and restoration. What is the best way to help a poor child? Give her parents a job!
The challenges of human trafficking represent not only problems for us to solve, but also our call to the least, the lost, and the lowliest…those who will always be with us. There are not only problems to solve, but people to serve!
I pray for a Church which, acknowledging its own brokenness, embraces broken people. As the Church considers the love of God for broken people, I hope that we will rediscover the joy of our salvation. Like the people we serve, we are loved not because we are good and worthy, but because we are made by God and for him. He loves us in spite of ourselves…and this is VERY good news.
I pray that we will offer our communities the opportunity to understand who God is, and who he loves. This is good news for John and Natasha. It is good news to people trapped in prostitution, to the Church, and to the world. In 2020, may our “light so shine before men that they will see our good works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven.”