Mar • 06 • 2018
While I was in the Philippines for ICCM’s Southeast Asia Listening Conference last month, my friend Mary was saving up newspapers for me. The Indianapolis Star had produced a 10-column series on child trafficking. Handing me the stack of papers she said, “I think the best thing I can do in response to these horrible realities is to sponsor another girl. Choose one for me from the Philippines.”
The newspaper pile stayed on my night stand for two weeks before I could face reading them. I knew what they would say … child trafficking and exploitation are on the rise, both in the U.S. and around the world. more than a million girls and boys are being sold for sex. Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines are the epicenter.
My problem is that my head is filled with memories of precious, lively, innocent Southeast Asian children. I had just visited Project Transformers in Manila, our 2015 anti-trafficking project. Fifty children are enfolded into this Holistic Child Development ministry. These children enjoy fun and educational weekly activities and a nutritious meal; their parents are informed and equipped in weekly classes; caseworkers visit schools and homes and follow up on absent children — in other words, these 50 children are at less risk of exploitation because adults in their world are being empowered to protect them and are doing it.
But that’s only 50! We also visited our Ata Hostel, ICCM’s 2014 Freedom Sunday project, where a different vulnerable group, rural tribal children, are safely enjoying the benefits of education. It’s only 24 children! What about hundreds of thousands of others?
The wonderful men in this photo work with ICCM and the Free Methodist Church in Southeast Asia. They are a few of the 20 who participated in our Listening Conference. When we did S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analyses for our five countries, all the groups identified child trafficking as a threat. Throughout Southeast Asia, they know that predators exploit children whenever they can. Among the many challenges we face, none is more daunting than this.
Please pray against the evils of child trafficking. Please support all our projects and, if at all possible, follow Mary’s lead and sponsor another child in Southeast Asia.
I am compelled by our Vision at ICCM: A world where every child is loved, safe and developing their God-given potential. Let’s each do all we can to fulfill this beautiful vision, defending and protecting the children from all forms of danger and harm. Together, we can.
Watch the “Prayer of the Children” video.