“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke.
I spent today with a good man. One who is making a difference in the lives of others. His name is Sareth. He survived the reign of Pol Pot and the killing fields in Cambodia. At 5 he was ripped from his parents. He had no clothes and his only possession was a blanket from his mom until that was taken from him. He would often sleep like a frog; His body in the water with his head on the bank because the water would be warmer than the air during the long winter nights.
After horrible experiences during that time his heart became very hard. God rescued him and drew him to himself at the age of 19. He went on to Paris to study environmental engineering and then the Philippines to attend Seminary and get his Masters of Divinity Degree. He now lives in a small house with no running water, no electricity and no Internet in a village of 540 families. I asked why he had chosen to live here instead of in town where he could have some of the modern conveniences that he had experienced overseas.
There are two reasons he told me. The first was to see what was going on in the border area first hand. (He has named his house the Minefield Hospitality House because of all the mines laid there during their conflict with Thailand) The second was because he heard there was a bad man who was trying to take the land from the people. The land owner had sold off the land but was trying to force the villagers off the land through a variety of means or at least hope they would not be able to make the meager payments and he could resell the land to others.
Sareth moved into the village two years ago and began helping them communicate and understand the different things that were going on in this battle for the land. He started a church and has since hired a pastor that he provides for monthly so that he can pastor the people of the village and not have to work. One of the keys to the land battle was the access to the land because the land owner was trying to sell the land between the village and the road. Sareth, with the help of others from Cadence and LightBridge purchased land to develop a road.
He sent letters to the village leaders, district and provincial leaders and to the largest local city council asking for permission to build a road, which would add legitimacy to their claims to the land. No one responded. He sent another letter to all of the same people asking them to deny permission to build the road. No one responded again. So he moved forward building the road. The road was completed yesterday.
I visited the village 4 months ago and it seems like a different place. A few years ago the only way into the village during rainy season was to walk through mud soaked paths. The new road has opened up the village. At the front of the road the property has a small place for a small store for the villages to sell their goods and produce.
In addition to the land owner the village leader was a corrupt man as well working with the land owner against the villagers. Sareth and others prayed against this man. He ended up in jail for other corruption. A few months later he had to sell his house (one of the nicest in the village) and land for $700. The house alone was worth $2000. Sareth purchased the house to extend his ministry in the village and provide a place of hospitality to others.
Yesterday the 30 village leaders got together and asked Sareth to be the new village leader. He said that he would continue to be their advisor, pastor, counselor and friend but that they needed to elect someone from within their own ranks to lead them.
One of the ladies told him “The road from the Lord Jesus gives us freedom.” They have hope for their future and there is an excitement in the village. I can’t wait to see what the place looks like in another year. Plans are in the works for an elementary school, playground, community center and soccer field. The land has been leveled and construction will soon begin.
Evil was defeated, Jesus Christ has been glorified and hope is growing in the minefields because one good man did something and made a difference in the lives of over 2500 people.
Everyday 13 year old Maly looks at the blank four walls around her, thinking hopeless thoughts and counting the days since she last saw her family. She doesn’t wonder about when she’ll see them again, because it’s been months and she’s used to the desolate loneliness in the small room. She can only look forward to more hours locked away in dark rooms, being poorly taken care of, and being treated like property. Because, at least in the perspective of the men who bought her, that’s all she is. She’s scared of those men. Their faces, their mean smiles, and the way they look at her and talk to her. She’s also scared of the other men, the men whom she’s sent to day after day, to do things she’s too ashamed to think of, even though she’s trapped with them in her nightmares. She is a sex slave. A year ago her mother took an “advance” on her earnings in a garment factory and two weeks later she was working in a brothel.
Though the above story was a work of fiction, it’s sad to say that it is the real story of many children throughout the world. Many actual stories are much more graphic and horrific. Wives placed in brothels by their husbands who should be protecting them and caring for them. This occurs especially in Asia, which is the continent of the world with the biggest concentration of slaves. Twenty-four million out of twenty-seven million slaves are in Asia. And the numbers are growing every day. The story behind each child entering sex slavery is often very similar; they were either kidnapped, or, more commonly, sold into it by a close and trusted relative or friend. Imagine the emotional damage each child goes through as they’re sold into a painful life of slavery usually by a family friend or relative.
The life of an Asian sex slave is tough to say the very least. As American’s we can’t fathom living without the freedom to make nearly every choice for our own happiness. Often slaves are forced into drug addiction, which keeps them dependent on their captors and buyers. Sometimes they can’t take their chance of escape because that would mean leaving their supply behind. Their lives become a haze of highs, unwanted sex, and unspeakable things in between. The girls and boys are made to wear, say, and do things that degrade them. They are treated as less than human. Their captors abuse them physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. They use their confusion and shame against the slaves to keep them from standing up to their captors or trying to leave.
Customers select the slave they want by age, gender, and looks. Usually younger girls between the ages of thirteen and sixteen are preferred. Before or recently hitting puberty is preferable as well. The customers pay the captors for an allotted amount of time in which they can do anything to the slave and make the slave do anything in turn. If a slave refuses, they are either punished, verbally abused, shamed into doing an act, or all of the above. Often the captor’s guilt and shame the slaves into doing filthy things by taking advantage of their cultural views. One example of such a situation is a young girl refusing to have sex with an older man. The captor would then rape the girl and present a twisted logical argument to convince her to have sex with the older man (like saying, “Since you’ve already given it up to me, you might as well give it up to all those other men as well.”). The girls tend to see logic in that and are too flustered and shocked to think about their own rights and value.
“There was a woman in my village who was about ten years older than me. She had left the village a few years before and one day she came back and brought her husband with her. She had nice clothes and said she and her husband had good jobs in Calcutta and a beautiful house and jewelry and good clothes. She said to me, ‘Come to Calcutta and I can get you a good job and you can help your family.’ At first my mother said no but eventually she agreed because there was nothing else I could do and we did not have enough food after my father died.”
The above excerpt from Sex Slaves: The Trafficking of Women in Asia is the true story of a fourteen year old prostitute, told in her own words. The leading astray of young girls from desperate families in the way above is a common method of forcing children into sex slavery.
The time to bring an end to slavery around the world has come. Will you join us and do your part to help slavery?