Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 9, 2010

Embrace God’s Passion

Sometime in 2002, National Public Radio featured an interview with a Chinese woman named Xinran. For eight years, Xinran hosted a radio program for women called Words on the Night Breeze. Xinran invited women to call in and talk about themselves and the struggles they faced as women in modern China. Although terrified to call in and speak openly about their feelings, women did so anyway. Xinran won their trust by being a compassionate listener and protecting their anonymity. She gave these women a voice. Xinran later authored a book entitled “The Good Women of China” in which she featured several of the most moving stories that her listeners had shared with her over the years. I purchased her book in January 2004 at the Dubai Airport and read it on my flight home. I could not put it down and had to fight back tears more than once. Xinran’s book was the first book I read that opened my eyes to the injustices and struggles faced by women in other countries.

Since that time I have read several other books about the injustices suffered by women in the world today. One of the books that angered me most is entitled “In the Name of Honor” — a memoir by a Muslim woman named Mukhtar Mai. This 32-year-old Pakistani peasant was sentenced by her village tribal council to be gang-raped for a crime that her brother allegedly committed. However, instead of committing suicide or disappearing after her horrific experience, she sought justice. Her case was eventually heard by the supreme court of Pakistan. She won her case and was awarded damages which she used to start a school for girls. This brave woman helped to make the world aware of the abuse that many Muslim women experience today.

Yesterday, I received e-mail from a dear friend who specializes in Islamic and Middle East issues. She sent me a video of a 17-year old Kurdish girl who was stoned to death because she fell in love with a Sunni Muslim boy. After much hesitation, I breathed a quick prayer and viewed the video. I was horrified by what I saw. I don’t have adequate words to describe the scene. As a frenzied mob of men pelted this petite little girl, others were taking photographs with their camera phones. I watched until this helpless woman lay unconscious and then was killed by one final and violent blow to her head. As the blood flowed from her head, another man walked over and covered her partially exposed body. Her murderers committed this crime with apparent impunity.

It’s difficult for us to comprehend the injustices and challenges experienced by women in other countries: abuse at the hands of family members or misogynistic spouses, lack of educational opportunities, physical complications or death as a result of pregnancies, and more. One of the most terrible injustices against young girls and women in the world today is human trafficking — being sold or kidnapped and forced to work in brothels. These girls are forcibly held against their will and raped for profit as many as twenty or more times a day. They are trapped in a dark and evil hell on earth with no apparent way out. But, these heinous things do not just happen in other countries, they are happening in our own community. According to the Department of Justice, between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the Unites States every year. A 2004 report estimated that one quarter of all trafficking victims to the United States end up in Texas. An estimated seventy-percent of these end up working in the sex trade — against their will. Many of these women work in spas and cantinas in Houston as sex and labor slaves.

Last week, Julie Waters, Director of Free the Captives, told a Kingsland student assembly that the average age of a girl entering prostitution is 12 years-old. Many of the girls trapped in local spas and cantinas are runaways who were solicited by pimps within forty-eight hours of running away from home. Julie, an attorney who represents victims of sex trafficking, said that pimps use extreme violence to punish these girls and keep them submissive. Every night, while we sleep in our comfortable and safe homes, hundreds of young girls in our community are living in a nightmare.

Our missions ministry is already involved in addressing sex trafficking issues in South Asia, Africa, and Central America. However, in recent months, we have taken intentional steps to address this issue in our own community. We are assisting two local after-care homes for girls rescued from local brothels. Currently, we are helping Redeemed Ministries to refurbish and furnish their first after-care home. We are also engaged in initiatives to connect with the girls trapped behind locked doors in local spas. On Saturday, September 18, we are hosting our first annual Just Run for a Just Cause to help raise awareness about human trafficking in our own community.

We are motivated to do something about the issue of human trafficking because the plight of the oppressed is something that breaks God’s heart. In Isaiah 58:6-8, we read: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” May we embrace God’s passion for those who are lost, oppressed, and suffering and allow Him to use us for His glory.

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