Important message and September news
Last year, while I was visiting family in Texas, my sister treated me to a pedicure in a small Asian-run salon there in rural East Texas. We noticed that several of the employees (all Asian, non-English-speaking, and mostly teenage boys and girls) were taking naps in the chairs since there were few clients. We thought it odd that these young people would be sleeping at 11am, since there is virtually no nightlife in the small town. Suddenly the door opened, and we were amazed by a strange group that entered. An Asian man, dressed in a colored suit, hat, sunglasses and heavy gold neck chain, came in surrounded by three large, burly men. He was the stereotype of a pimp!!
It had an electrifying effect upon the salon staff, who all immediately jumped up and got busy! The strange group walked straight through the salon and into the back. I felt a shudder go down my spine as I realized the very probable reality of the little business – these poor young people were very likely being trafficked! For years we have heard of human trafficking around the USA and tend to think of it being a problem in big cities like Los Angeles or New York, but the sad reality is that it is now occurring everywhere! My sister and I left the salon and spent a long time discussing what we had seen. Of course, we had no proof, and felt we could do nothing other than pray that the Lord would reveal the truth about the salon to the authorities.
I felt truly saddened to be aware of the situation yet be unable to help. When we think of the atrocities of slavery 200 years ago or the German people living near concentration camps less than 100 years ago, as Christians we may feel that WE would have stood up and taken a role to fight against such horrors. But are we not in a similar situation today with the rampant evil of human trafficking even here in our own country?
While living in Mexico over 20 years ago, we heard several terrifying stories of sexual exploitation or kidnapping – one 8-year-old girl was actually sold for sex each night by her policeman father! Pastor Sika in Togo told me years ago about the trafficking of young children into neighboring West African countries to harvest cocoa beans for chocolate, since they were small and could easily climb the trees! Often, desperate families are easily duped into sending their children off to “work” when that actually means slavery! But in recent years, human trafficking has increased exponentially here in the USA too: it is now the 2nd most profitable illegal industry – drugs being the 1st! It is reported that in the USA in 2021, 72% of all trafficking situations were sexual exploitation. More people are trapped today in human trafficking than at any other point in history – an estimated 5.1 million people are in modern slavery on any given day and some 35% are children!
Gerald and I recently saw the exceptional movie “The Sound of Freedom”. It is the true story of Tim Ballard who has developed an organization that rescues trafficked children around the world. It is an incredibly moving, yet difficult movie to watch – but I believe it should be seen by EVERY American Christian. Sex trafficking will not stop until the demand for it ends! We cannot turn a blind eye! This movie had made over $182 million worldwide by the end of August, is presently being shown in 23 countries, and claimed the #1 spot in movie theaters in 18 Latin American countries after just a week or so!! It is due for release on DVD this month. I truly believe it is being used by God to awaken many people.
Thankfully, there are also a number of other organizations and ministries around the world helping rescue those people who are being trafficked, and some governments are beginning to attack the problem. We recently watched an amazing interview on the “Encounter Underground Podcast” with Troy Brewer (who has such an organization) that addresses this. We can spread the word and encourage others to become aware, pray, and get involved by supporting such groups. I discovered a host of amazing resources available on the DHS government website called “The Blue Campaign” which has statistics, posters, and lots of helpful information for individuals, schools, churches, hospitals, and other workplaces. We CAN do more! Yet, after sharing about the movie with a Christian friend, I was saddened to hear her respond: “Oh, I can’t watch things like that – they upset me too much!” But Jesus warns us not to be “lukewarm”! We know there is great darkness around us, but we can help bring God’s light into it to reveal the truth and show people the way out! I encourage you to prayerfully consider this difficult issue and seek to do your part. Blessings, Shirley.
Pastor Honore in Central African Republic sent us an update recently in which he said the church held a weeklong youth event, followed by the youth presenting the Sunday church service, with praise and worship and preaching. It all went extremely well. This photo shows the CEERCA youth leaders who organized and taught during the week. It is so good to hear that these young people are being taught to be disciples and share the Gospel with their generation, which has so many needs in such an unstable country.
Pastor Sika in Togo praises God for the funds that came in to ensure that all the Joseph Project Orphans can attend school again this year! A HUGE blessing! The rainy season has been exceptionally bad, with many people losing both their first and second crops. We praise God that at least the Joseph Project was able to collect the first harvest, but many people in the area are in great need. We pray that many will turn to the radio and be encouraged to put their trust in Jesus, as every Monday Pastor Sika teaches his program. He has heard from many listeners that they are waking up to the need to live for Christ, and some have even begun attending his church in Lomé.
He shared a wonderful testimony of the salvation of a famous fetish witchdoctor, named Louis. He had shared with Pastor Sika that he was so tired of worshipping the devil and wanted to turn to Jesus, although he was afraid that his village would turn against him. Thankfully, he made the decision and so far it has gone well in his village – in fact he has become a guide to the village of Agbanake for Pastor Sika and they have begun to hold meetings there.
Apart from witchcraft, there are so many sad, cultural practices that make life very difficult in Africa. Antou, the lady in the final photo, lost her husband a year ago, and is now being turned out of her home by her brother-in-law. There is no help from the Justice system as this is a longstanding custom, that can only be changed when people come to know the love and compassion of Jesus. It explains why there are so many destitute widows and children. This photo shows her with her two sons. Let’s pray that God will be her advocate and intervene so that her brother-in-law will change his mind and allow her and the boys to remain in their home.