Thursday, April 23, 2009

Who Would Sell God's Children?

It's interesting to be back in America after you've been in a foreign country. It's odd to come back to cars and air conditioning. For the last year, Johnson Bowie has been on this quest fighting human trafficking. About a year ago, he picked up this book called "Not For Sale" on his way back Nicaragua. God gripped him because there is still slavery in America. It is the number two or three top criminal enterprise in the world behind the drug trade. It is a $31 billion a year business with over 27 million people in slavery as we speak. Slaves can be child soldiers, physical slaves or sex slaves. Last year, David Batstone, the author of the book, actually came and spoke at Fusion and talked about a project, the "Veronica House".

"Veronica" was the name of a little 10 or 12 year old girl who, by some circumstance, ended up on the streets of Peru selling candy and hats to buy books for school. One day, while she was out selling, some "friends" gave her clothes to look better so that she could sell more candy. But that night, the "friends" came back and told her she owed them money for the dress. The next night, she was raped by more than 10 men to pay. Veronica was able to break away one time to go see Lucy, a local hero of children on the streets, but there wasn't enough room in Lucy's shelter, so Veronica was sent back for a short while after being told she could return in a few weeks. But two weeks later, she was found strangled to death by a john in a hotel room.

So, Johnson and his team went to visit the Veronica House. On the way, Eric, one of his team members, had had a dream that a little girl was being raped in the street and people were just walking by, not doing anything about it and not even paying attention. The girl looked right at Eric and said, "Is there no one who will stand up to this?"

It was a little heavy when Johnson left. His team loaded up on a plane to go down to Lima to see Lucy. They knew it wasn't going to be a normal mission trip. They went prepared to do whatever they had to in order to help. Lucy is sort of the Mother Theresa of Lima. Children would pour out from the streets to hug her when she came around. At one point, a commotion arose when Johnson's team was there. Children are told not to sell in the streets and a policeman was confiscating candy and hats. Lucy stormed out and put the officer in his place.

In 1991, the president of Peru decided he was going to "cleanse" the streets. After the announcement, kids were turning up dead in the streets. The government was literally killing them! One night, Lucy, a lawyer at the time, gave a couple of kids her card saying, "If you need a place to stay, come and bring your friends if you need to." But when Lucy came back by her office, there were over 600 kids piled in the room!! This was where Johnson and his team went to visit. He also went out into the streets to see the river banks where the kids slept, to see the cardboard box homes and to see the kids huffing glue bags to ease the pain. They heard about how the government handed out food, but had put broken glass in the sandwiches. They saw the scars all over the kids' arms from where they would cut themselves so the police wouldn't touch them because they were covered with blood.

Lucy would cry while telling a story about how a boy made a Mother's Day card for his mother. Lucy encouraged the boy to give the card to his mother, but instead he gave the card to Lucy because he said she was the closest thing he'd ever had to a mother. Only a few days later, the boy was killed while crossing the street.

Lucy told Johnson about the "Magdalene House" which she had opened to more than 200 street kids, but said that the government had shut the house down when some rich neighbors complained about it. This forced the kids back into the streets and since then, several have already died.

Johnson and his team went with Lucy to talk to the teenage prostitutes on the streets. There, they met Eve. Eve was kidnapped, tortured and raped one night by a john, who was caught and was sent to prison. But now Eve can't sleep in the same place on any given night because she found out that the john's family is trying to kill her.

Johnson met Tulo, who was raped and put into sexual slavery. She ended up getting an infection that nullified all of her reproductive organs. They met Lucero, a very pretty girl. There's something wrong if you are pretty on the streets because someone will take you. A family actually took her and made her their slave. There was a mother, father and the daughter was Lucero's pimp! They owned her. She's now trapped in the cycle of this life. She has to pay for the street corner she's forced to stand on, pay for the hotel room she's raped in and pay for the clothes she has to buy to find new "clients". Lucero ended up getting pregnant and so her girl pimp kicked her over and over again in the stomach to induce an abortion. No amount of money could pay to get these girls off the streets because of the system.

While they were there, a story came out in the newspaper saying, "Sluts Don't Even Honor Good Friday". It had a picture of the very people Johnson was sitting with on the front. The girls were hurt and angry because the newspaper didn't understand that these children didn't have a choice and even hated life on the street. Driving down the street at midnight, Johnson's team saw car after car after car; literally hundreds, lined up waiting for girls to come available for the night.

Every Easter, these kids pull out pictures of kids they know who've died on the streets. At this point, Johnson shows these pictures to his audience. He points out a baby who died of AIDS. There was a 4 year old who was taken, raped and killed. Only a few months later, both parents died of tuberculosis. Stopping at another slide, Johnson shows a 24 year old man with his daughter, Tatyana. Talking with him, Johnson learned that his daughter died while he was in prison. Sometimes, policemen would shoot kids just for being where they shouldn't be in the streets.

On one day, Johnson was able to stand in front of these kids and open up the Bible to Genesis 39, where Joseph was taken, sold into slavery and thrown into prison. These kids didn't know the stories of the Bible, but there was something magnetic about the Word. He promised them that, like with Joseph, God had not forgotten them and the Lord was with them. This was on Easter Sunday that he was telling them this! But one kid said, "You don't understand. People don't come to see us. Why would you come to see us?" Johnson said it was because he wanted them to know God had not forgotten them.

One kid named Ruben and his brother grew up being repeatedly raped by their father. His father would send them out into the streets to earn or beg for money and they would not be allowed home until they returned with the money. Ruben was gay and sat down with them to explain the unbelievable events in his life. After everything that he shared and everything that was forced on him as a child, Ruben asked Johnson to pray with him and then he asked if Johnson thought God could forgive him... Reuben, that night, asked Christ into his heart.

There was another home where about 20 kids were staying. One of the kids' mothers were on the street prostituting herself and the kids went and got her off the street! While they were at this home, a license was revoked for the home to stay open, but God opened the doors to keep it going. Meanwhile, the Veronica House is almost finished, but not quite. But for every night it is not finished, the girls who know about it have to go back out into the streets and prostitute themselves again.

Johnson's team had an itinerary while they were there. There were some listed events and sights they were going to see as part of their trip, but there came a point where they had to stop themselves and decide if they were missionaries or tourists. When they decided they were missionaries, that is when they were forever moved by what they saw and heard.

The itinerary our world sets for us here in the U.S. is 1) Get a good education 2) Get a good job. 3) Make a lot of money. 4) Get a nice home. 5) Have kids. 6) Give them a good education. This is a cycle that doesn't end. The reality check here is "Is this all that God has lined up for us?" Will we go 60 years on the world's path or go on God's path? When will our lives matter? When will we decide we have a life of mission and not a life as a tourist? There is a bigger plan!

1 Peter 1:13 says "Prepare your minds for action". Something amazing happens on a mission trip. Do you know why? You are there for a reason! You have a mission! What if we woke up with a mind of action and mission every single day? What would happen if we started living life ON PURPOSE. Ephesians 5:15 says, "Be very careful how you live".

Smith Wigglesworth was a plumber in the early 1900's who wrote devotionals. One of his stories was titled "Opportunity for Action". Someone told him they were going to have some entertainment and wanted him to come asking if he had a talent. Smith said the he would come and sing. When he got there, he sang a song of praise to God which ended up turning the dance into an opportunity where 6 young men came to Christ.

Mother Theresa once said, "If you can't feed a hundred, feed one."

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