I just got back from a ten-day trip in Cambodia. A group of us from E91 went to explore the incredible ministry of Rapha House, which centers on providing residential care, counseling, and life-skills training for girls rescued from human trafficking.
I’ve known about this ministry for several years, and our church has become a ministry partner of Rapha House over this past year. But my heart went to a whole new level of compassion and concern when I met those young Cambodian girls who had been rescued from slavery and brought into a safe place where they could learn about Jesus, heal, and begin their slow journey of restoration.
When I hear about the global malady of human trafficking, I now see faces and not just statistics. I now hear the voices of these young girls filled with sorrow and pain and yet turning to hope and healing. I now hear their laughter as they play and return to a childhood that was stripped from them, some as early as the age of four.
As I sat among these children who were sold or kidnapped into slavery, my heart ached for the evil they endured in a few years that most of us will never see or experience in a lifetime.
And the faces of these young girls represent 20-30 million slaves in the world today, 80% of them having to face sexual exploitation and forced prostitution.
It’s been easy for me to read statistics like this but quickly move on to other issues. After all, the world is vast and filled with mammoth atrocities. But the issue of human trafficking became personal when I walked into a church building this past Sunday in Battambang, Cambodia.
My friends and I approached the church property filled with young girls who had been rescued from human trafficking and families gathering from the surrounding community. A young “greeter” who was no more than six years old, and who had been trafficked at the age of four walked right up to me. She smiled with the biggest grin you’ve ever seen. She grabbed my hand and led me all the way to the front, where she pointed at a seat where she wanted me to sit—right next to her. She held my hand all through the service, and when we stood to sing, she helped me with some of the motions that went with the songs.
After I preached that morning, she gave me a hug goodbye, and she smiled with that bright grin that is now embedded in my memory. I don’t know her name, and I will probably never see her again this side of heaven. But on that beautiful Sunday morning halfway around the world, a six-year old girl who had been rescued from sexual exploitation and prostitution showed me the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She had been rescued and set free, and now she has a future filled with hope and great expectations.
Later that afternoon, we drove past a safe house funded by the famous actress, Angelina Jolie. As grateful as the Cambodians are for her compassion and work to help young girls rescued from human trafficking, 85% of those girls wind up back in prostitution. Compare that to the success rate of 90-95% of the young girls who go through the ministry of Rapha House who are reintegrated into society through education and employment. Just think about that—Angelina Jolie’s service organization has a 15% success rate. Rapha House has a 90-95% success rate. What makes the difference? Jesus. Plain and simple. Through Rapha House, these young girls are introduced to Jesus Christ, and He’s the One who redeems and restores.
Thank You, Lord, for that little six-year old girl with a beaming smile who is a living witness of your power of grace. Help me be a conduit of your grace so that many others here and around the world are given that same hope and healing.
I ask you one thing: Will you make that your prayer as well, and be open to whatever God may be calling you to do?