Anguish in the Heart of God

By Francis Frangipane

While the tragedy of the Asian tsunami has drawn our hearts to its widespread death and apocalyptic devastation, there has been another tragedy repeatedly striking this same region for decades.  Yet this ongoing disaster has been almost completely ignored.  What is the horror of which I write?  This part of the world is infamous because of the trafficking of slavery, especially women and children. 

The Polaris Project explains: 'trafficking in persons, also known as human trafficking, is the modern practice of slavery. It is the third largest criminal industry in the world today, after arms and drug dealing, and is the fastest growing."

Quoting information from the Salvation Army: "Almost 200,000 Nepali girls, many under 14, are sexual slaves in India. Experts estimate that 10,000 children aged between six and 14 are virtually enslaved in brothels in Sri Lanka. Around 15,000 children were sold into sexual slavery in Cambodia between 1991-97. Asian women are sold to North American brothels for $16,000 each. The Thai Government reports that 60,000 Thai children are sold into prostitution -- independent non-governmental organization (NGO) experts estimate the figure to be closer to 800,000." 

In his swearing-in speech in March, 2003, John R. Miller, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, said: 'the dimensions of the modern day slavery challenge that we face are vast. There are not thousands or hundreds of thousands but over a million people who are trafficked and enslaved every single year. That's right -- over a million every single year." 

I could go on. Picture your child kidnaped and sold into a sex ring.  This is the evil of this horror.  Multiply your outrage by a million women and children a year and we can get a glimpse of the anguish in the heart of God. 

There is some effort to counter this wickedness on an international scale. The United States, in its implementation of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, has become increasingly more vigorous in its strategies to protect and assist victims, prosecute traffickers, educate travelers, and prevent trafficking. Still, a great many of those kidnapped and sold into slavery come from the nations hit by the tsunami. 

I believe the Holy Spirit is using the tsunami, not only to stir compassion in the world, but also to spotlight the sickness and horror of the slave trade.   Now is the time we must mobilize spiritually.  What can we do?  First, let us pray with fervor and give with generosity to help the regions stricken by the tsunami.  Yet, as the Holy Spirit exposes this deep wickedness upon a worldwide stage, let us prevail in prayer for a worldwide response to crush the slave trade.  
  • Pray for all those Christian aid workers who have been welcomed into these non-Christian nations.  Pray that God will use them to truly represent His heart.  Pray for their protection and strength.  This is an unprecedented opportunity, especially in reaching the lost. 
  • Pray that nations will stop tolerating the sexual exploitation of women and children, that they will enact and enforce strict punishment of slave traders and pimps.
  • Pray for the local pastors and Christians who are already living in this region of the world. They are the ones who must deal personally with this great tragedy while also rendering themselves servants of God to help others. They need our prayers to stand in this hour of testing and find ways to transform their culture.
  • Pray that the markets for slaves will also come under international pressure and that those who carry out these wicked crimes will be incarcerated.
Finally, support with your prayers and funds those organizations that are currently involved in rescuing and rehabilitating the victims of slavery.  One place to start is with the Salvation Army, which not only has people on the ground in these areas, but also knows which ministries have been effective in rescuing people from slavery.

Just as the tragedy of 9/11 focused the world on the horrors of Islamic extremism, so this tragedy is turning our eyes, resources and resolve toward ending modern slavery.  Where is God in the tsunami tragedy?  He is in our hearts to remedy this horrible injustice.

Here is an updated list of a few organizations where you can give your gift.

Salvation Army
International Justice Mission
Voice in the City Ministries
World Vision
Catholic Relief Services