Eight years ago I went on a short-term trip to Chang Mai, Thailand. During my visit, I witnessed first hand several aspects of the tragedy of human trafficking. I spent time in the red-light district flooded with the perverted appetites of foreigners and victims of sex trafficking, but I also got to visit a school that focuses on intercepting traffickers by reaching poverty stricken children and offering them safety and education, housing and loving them before they are targeted by brothel owners. I also visited a rehabilitation home for women who were rescued from the sex trade and were learning profitable skills and experiencing healing for their hearts, minds and bodies.
I told myself I would never forget them: the children, the imprisoned girls in the brothels, and the girls who had been rescued. I promised myself I would fight for them. After that trip, I returned to the US different. I was changed, marked. I knew that those faces would be in my future…though I may never talk with those women in the brothel again, or have the chance to take those young girls away from their prison for a dinner and speak life and hope into their hearts, I would see them again, I would fight for them again. I just knew it was my destiny to contend for justice. To give a voice to the voiceless.
Well, I was nineteen years old then, and since then I have traveled to other places overseas and met more hurting and desperate people. I have been in school for a whopping 7 years, have had three children in the meantime and have moved four times. It’s not that I intended to forget their plight, its just that life got busy. I have piles of laundry, temper-tantrum prone toddlers, new friends to make and old friends to keep. I have church duties and clubs I enjoy, and of course my appetite for Starbucks keeps me on my iphone searching for the closest latte to where ever I may be located at the moment.
But what about those girls? What about them? What about the life-altering experience I had sitting across the bar from them listening to their stories while the brothel owner watched closely from the opposite side of the bar? Can I be a little more grown up now, a stay-at-home mom, take great care of my young children, maintain solid relationships and serve my local community, all the while holding high the banner for justice for women like these, for oppressed people everywhere?
I sure hope so.
Thanks to a great friend whose heart is soft to the things that hurt God’s heart and who is responding with action to the human trafficking dilemma, my passion for social justice has been stirred again. My heart has been reminded that while we live worlds apart, the looks of desperation in the eyes of those young girls and the weeping of Jesus for their pain can still spur me on to seek righteousness and justice for the oppressed.