Photo by Shining Light Photography
This story was written while I was working in the Philippines with the International Justice Mission to free slaves.
600,000-800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. Approximately 80% are women and girls. Up to 50% are minors.
US Department of State Trafficking in Person Report 2007
Slavery is the second largest global-organized crime, generating $150.2 BILLION Per Year. That's more than the combined revenues of Amazon, Google, and Ebay every year.
International Labour Organization
The average cost of a slave today is $90. The average cost of a slave in 1850, in the American South, is equivalent to $40,000 today.
Free the Slaves
Nearly 1 in 5 victims of slavery is a child. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the United States is 12-14 years old. Four billion people are living outside the protection of the law.
The United Nations
Discouraged. Dispirited. Disheartened. This is what my soul feels as I read these facts. With out-of-this-world statistics like these, how am I ever supposed to have hope? Working in this fight against human trafficking has almost left me feeling useless, worthless, and hopeless. These statistics aren't mere numbers, but a harsh truth and reality in our world today. What are you to do when you live in a world where slavery still exists? When you actually witness women being sold—SOLD—for sexual acts against their will? How am I supposed to feel when I hear stories of pimps getting away with their dehumanizing actions because they are not facing any consequences, WHATSOEVER? High profits, low risk? Why not? They are not being punished or held responsible for their unlawful acts and are left to exploit even more women and children. What am I supposed to do when I see a foreign man walking down the street alongside a girl that is less than half his age? He has traveled far and wide just for one night of temporary pleasure and satisfaction, by paying for a girl that could be younger than his very own daughter. What about the stories I hear over and over again of actual families exploiting their very own children on the Internet? What are we to do when we provide every resource possible to a rescued victim, that promises her a new life and future, but yet she believes she is nowhere near worthy, and wants right back where she began? She doesn't even want to be rescued.
You know what you are supposed to do? Have hope against all odds. Guess who is on our side? JESUS CHRIST! The Savior of the world. If God is for us, who can be against us? Whom shall I fear? NO ONE. When I feel as though nothing I am doing is making a change; when I feel like I have to keep doing more or figure out the answer to this global tragedy, I am reminded that this is not a "Brianna story".... this is a "God story." And the best part about this story is that we already know the ending. GOD WINS! Though I feel incapable, I feel worthless, and I am confused out of my mind, God has made known to me His promises. It's nothing that I can do, but all that He will do.
Just read the story of Abraham.* Abraham received the promise of God that he would have a son when he was 100 years old, but Sarah was old and barren. Despite his old age and weak body, he still believed that the Lord would see His promise to him through. And He did! "Abraham didn't focus on his own impotence and say 'it's hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.' Nor did he survey Sarah's decades of infertility and give up. He didn't tiptoe around God's promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said" (Romans 4:19-24).
Abraham became the father of many nations because he had faith in God's promise. Though it seemed impossible, God came through, as He always does. This is no surprise. "Abraham was first named father and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding not to live on the basis of what he saw he couldn't do but on what God said he would do" (Romans 4:17-18). I want to have faith like that. When I stand on a mountaintop overlooking God's mighty, intricately designed and crafted creation, how could I ever doubt His overarching power and sovereignty? How can I doubt Colossians 1:17 when Paul claims: "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together"?
In His timing, justice will reign. Slaves will be rescued. And God will have the victory once and for all. I may not have the answers. I may not understand why the world is so broken. But that doesn't shake the faith I have in the Lord. The odds may be against us, but God is for us. I will never stop believing or trusting that. I am banking my life on it. One thousand percent. Join with me in believing this. When all seems impossible, when you're at your breaking point, believe that God has already won. Say yes to the mission He has called you on, and don't look back. Have faith and hope in Him. "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1Timothy 6:12).
Let's pray for the girls God has rescued. The ones that are healing. The ones deciding whether they are worthy of His love. And the ones we have yet to reach. Pray for the abusers, the perpetrators, the lost, and the broken. Pray for their heart to lean into Christ's and to break free from the bondage in this world. Words will never describe how thankful I am to be part of such a massive mission. And no matter how big it may be, how impossible it may seem, I will not give up! Because Christ has not given up on me. In due time, we will see the glory of the Lord prevail. And I can't wait for that day! He has shown me His glory through His people and His creation. Because of what He has shown me, I will trust Him for that which I cannot yet see. Because of what Christ has done in my life, I have joy, assurance, confidence, complete trust, and surrender, despite the odds the world keeps throwing my way. I encourage you all to hold on to your hope against all odds. I promise, you will not be left disappointed.
"What do you mean, 'if I can?'" Jesus asked, "Anything is possible if a person believes" (Mark 9:23).
*This message of hope through the faith of Abraham was brought to me at a breaking point while serving with the International Justice Mission combating human trafficking. A dear friend wrote me a letter before I had even left for the journey to the Philippines, and in God's timing, I opened it when I was feeling hopeless. God is with us, everywhere we go, friends. Into the darkest corner of the world, He is there, making it light.
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.