The voice of a young girl screams relentlessly as she is being sold into the sex trade industry, “Help…help…please help,” but no one is there to hear her cry. No one is there to speak up on her behalf and be a voice against her injustice. Betrayed by her own mother, she was given over to the owner of a brothel to be exploited, earning money for her family. To escape the hurt and pain, this young girl tries to commit suicide many times but fails. She grows up feeling worthless and devalued because of the trauma she had endured for so many years, and to make matters worse, her education was inconsistent, making her unprepared to find a good job. Desperate to survive, she finds herself falling back into a lifestyle she absolutely hates and resents – a lifestyle of prostitution.
Unfortunately, this story is all too common around the world. According to the website for Polaris Project, an advocacy group devoted to stopping modern day slavery, “Human trafficking affects every country around the world, regardless of socio-economic status, history, or political structure. Human traffickers have created an international market for the trade in human beings based on high profits and demand for commercial sex and cheap labor. Trafficking is estimated to be a $32 billion industry, affecting 161 countries worldwide” ( www.polarisproject.org). In fact, “A human trafficker can earn 20 times what he or she paid for a girl. Provided the girl was not physically brutalized to the point of ruining her beauty, the pimp could sell her again for a greater price because he had trained her and broken her spirit, which saves future buyers the hassle. A 2003 study in the Netherlands found that, on average, a single sex slave earned her pimp at least $250,000 a year” (See Skinner, E. Benjamin. 2008 – A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery).
The United Nations put a document together called
Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns. Their research found that 87 percent of men, women and children trafficked around the world are being sold for sexual exploitation purposes, and that 33 percent of those trafficked are children.
Modern-day slavery around the globe needs to stop, and those imprisoned need to be set free! But who will help?
God wants His people to be moved to action. God is not impressed when people do religious works outwardly, but disregard what He values and esteems, such as helping others become free. The Bible says, “Is such a fast as yours what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself with sorrow in his soul? [Is true fasting merely mechanical?] Is it only to bow down his head like a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him [to indicate a condition of heart that he does not have]? Will you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord? [Rather] is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every [enslaving] yoke” (Isaiah 58:5-6 AMP). God delights and commands in His people rescuing others from oppressive situations, cutting the chains of injustice off those imprisoned and providing assistance to those desperately in need of help.
One man rose to the task.
Tony Kirwan connected with God’s heart after he and a friend challenged each other over lunch one day. Kirwan recalls, “One day I had lunch with a mate of mine and for whatever reason got all deep and meaningful. We challenged each other with what we wanted to be by the time we were 30. For me, it was a real God moment and the first time I thought I was to be hands on.” Up until this point, Kirwan owned his own business in northern Queensland, Australia and had always thought he would be “a giver, not a goer.” However, that day God put a seed in Kirwan’s heart that would grow to be something significant in the days ahead.
A short time later in October of 1998, Kirwan and his father went on a two week trip to Cambodia to investigate if moving to an impoverished nation was what God was asking of him and his family. Yet while pursuing this venture, their personal contact in the country said it wasn’t a safe time to visit, so they were only able to spend three days in Cambodia. Despite such a short stint in the country, Kirwan saw kids in the dump with open sores, swollen bellies and little to no clothing. This scene was imprinted on his mind forever and fueled his heart to change. He went back to his hotel room that evening to pray and seek God about what to do. As he poured his heart out, he sensed an overwhelming urge to do something. He recalls, “I remember asking God to help these kids, but I felt this impression in my heart, ‘God have mercy on me if I don’t do something about this.’”
Kirwan and his family eventually came over to Thailand to work with a missions organization and while there, heard about a Christian man who happened to be visiting Bangkok, Thailand. Someone came up to him and offered him children for sexual pleasure for $400 U.S. dollars. Kirwan said, “When I heard this story, it really hit me and I wanted to do something, but the group I was with…it just wasn’t their vision.”
Kirwan decided to eventually leave that organization and founded a ministry called Destiny Rescue (DR) after hearing that heart wrenching story. He launched it in October of 2001 in Mozambique, Africa.
DR has become an internationally recognized Christian non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing children enslaved in the sex trafficking industry. They currently work in six nations: Thailand, Cambodia, India, Laos, Burma and Mozambique, along with two funding nations – Australia and the United States. Their vision is simple: to end slavery. They accomplish it through rescuing children directly from brothels and red light districts, protecting the vulnerable children through prostitution prevention programs, providing schooling, vocational training, medical help, counseling, and all the children’s daily needs.
DR has literally saved hundreds of children from brothels, red light districts and abusive family situations and brought them to one of their many safe homes where they can be cared for and looked after in a safe, Christ loving environment. These little ones can actually be kids again, many of them for the first time ever! Just think, they can smile, laugh, feel safe and experience real unconditional love – the love of God!
A Cambodian rescue girl shared her story, stating, “I have three older sisters and one older brother. My mother never loved me or my sisters. She only loved her son. She took me to live with another family at the age of seven to work for them. I watched their two kids, but when I would do something wrong the father would point a gun at my head and tell me he was going to kill me. It was very scary. Eventually I escaped from that family and moved from one house to another to be safe. I ended up going back to my family, but I knew I had made the wrong decision. One time my mother took me to the rice patties and pushed my head under the water to kill me. Several people saw it, but did not do anything because they thought she was only disciplining me. However, when it continued, the neighbor ran over to stop my mother from drowning me. I wondered what was wrong with me…why were these bad things happening? Another time my older brother took a wooden spoon and hit me over the head until I started bleeding and then pushed me from the house. I was hanging from the floor because the house was on stilts. My brother kept hitting and stepping on my hands to make me fall. I started screaming for help and a neighbor came and saved me. My mother was there, but she did not care. I felt rejected and unwanted, so I tried killing myself by taking medicine tablets. A second time I tried killing myself, but people came and helped me. My mother tortured me by whipping me and I had bruises all over my body. Again, a person came to help me and saw the wounds. This time the person took me to DR. I went through the program and learned about the love of God and what it meant to have a relationship with Him and experience His love.”
This young woman is just one shining example of what DR is doing to liberate children from the sex slave industry and abusive situations. Today, she is on staff with DR, has a wonderful husband and child and is full of joy and the love of God.
One important aspect of ending sex trafficking is stopping it before it happens. Christine Odell is DR’s country manager in Cambodia and she works extensively with DR’s prevention programs, including their daycare and after-school learning center in Phnom Pehn. The daycare allows parents to work and earn an income while their kids are in a safe environment, away from vulnerable situations. They also help students in their after-school learning program catch up on their studies. Many kids, due to poverty or abuse, fail to receive a proper education, and in many instances, fall behind their appropriate grade level standards. If organizations like DR do not step in to help, these young people will be forced to find work in prostitution because they cannot get a good paying job elsewhere.
Another aspect of prevention is to provide a prostitution prevention program, described by DR as “identifying girls and young women who are at risk of being lured or forced into a life of sexual slavery. These girls receive an education and training, providing them with skills to enter the workforce and earn a living in freedom.”
Thirdly, DR created a program aiding poor families to become self-sustaining. DR explains, “We assist these poor families through various development programs aiding them in becoming self-supportive, which removes the need for them to sell their daughters in the future. This is done through small business loans, pig breeding, agricultural training, etc.”
DR and similar organizations need your help. You might ask yourself, “How can I get involved or how can I make a difference?” It takes resources to rescue these children and God is looking for His people to step up and get involved. Kirwan said, “I personally believe everybody can give…everybody has a different capacity to give, but we all can do something.” You might not be able to give a lot of money, but collectively, as we each play our part, real change can take place!
Another thing you can do is be a voice to influence others in your world. Kirwan shares, “These kids don’t have a voice. The ones that should be protecting them, their mums [sic] and dads, are the reason they are there. That means we have to be their voice. They could be in a brothel screaming at the top of their lungs for someone to come and rescue them and someone back in the U.S. or Australia or anywhere are never going to hear that…so we have got to step up and be a voice.”
God heard the cry of the Israelites in Egypt when they were in slavery and bondage and He was moved to have compassion on them. He raised his servant Moses up to deliver His people out of slavery and gave them a future and hope!
Could it be that God wants to use you to deliver these precious children? God hears their cries for help and is looking for men and women that will say “yes” to His leading.
Kirwan recounts a story on one of his scouting trips to free children. He was at a brothel and asked if there were any young girls available. The lady in charge said she had several children and brought a young girl out to sit on Kirwan’s lap and told him he could do all kinds of nasty sexual things with her for a price. Kirwan said, “I could feel her (the young girl) shaking and tears running down her cheek.” She did not want to be there, but was forced to meet the demands of the brothel owner. His heart sank, looking for a way to rescue her. The sad reality is there are so many kids in that exact situation, but very few people willing to do something about it! Just like Kirwan and Destiny Rescue, you and I can be part of the solution. Be a voice today!
If you are interested in learning more about Destiny Rescue and how to become involved, you can check their website out at http://www.destinyrescue.org.