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What makes the difference?

October 8, 2012

As I sit here reflecting on the last three days my heart is jumbled up. I am filled with hope and promise, while also knowing of the great needs and problems all around me. I am struck by how little I can do to help, but am also aware that I can do something, anything, to help.

We came on this trip to learn about and address the needs of human trafficking.

To many people I know, that phrase refers to sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, but that is not the only issue. There are huge numbers of people who are trafficked for their labor, forced to work off a debt they can never repay. Many of them having to live where they work, and not knowing any other part of life.

Back home in Portland, Oregon, I have become networked and involved with trafficking, although I have realized this week that I am not doing enough.

One of the questions I get from a lot of people is …

How can this happen? What causes it?

The stories here in Moldova are very similar to what I know from the US. The answers to the questions are complex and confusing.

Y., at the age of 8 was first raped by her father. By the age of 12, her mother was selling her to other men. Imagine the betrayal and confusion that causes in a young child. The people God has placed in her life to raise and protect her are hurting her and turning her over to others for abuse. They are not protecting her, encouraging her, empowering her, guiding her, and teaching her to be a beautiful and self confident young lady. Instead, because of all she experienced, she become angry and aggressive, fighting for her life. She was trafficked an abused for a number of years before being rescued and brought to a shelter for help and hope.

After about nine months at the shelter, Y decided to leave to be with her boyfriend. She left her belongs and departed. Those at the shelter allowed her to leave, knowing that she needed the freedom to make her own decisions. A few months later, Y showed up at the center again. Obviously a few months pregnant, she came seeking her belongings, wondering if they had even kept them. Not only were her belongings still there, but she was greeted with welcome smiles and open hearts. She asked if she could return to the shelter. Not only was the door opened to her, but she was welcomed in with such love and grace that it began to change her heart.

After all the abuse Y had experienced, she had asked shelter staff where God was when she was abused and why he didn’t stop it. They didn’t have answers to that, but they taught her about Him and about His love, grace, and care.

People began to see a difference.

Since returning to the shelter, Y has become a mother, a leader, and a Christian. Her life has been transformed and changed. She knows that she is supported and loved.

I asked the director of the ministry what he has seen that makes the most difference in the girls lives.

His answer was simple….


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