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Seek Justice, Correct Oppression

by Larry Sharp
in Asia, Blog, Cambodia, Community Development, Larry Sharp
Crossworld workers in Cambodia are breaking down the human trafficking industry — one life at a time.

Twelve-year-old Dara looked at the teddy bear and the note attached to it. “Do I really deserve love and care?” It was the first time she had been told something like this, and the first time she had ever been given a gift.

Dara had just been rescued from a karaoke bar in Phnom Penh, where her family had sold her weeks earlier. She sold drinks to male customers, many of whom took this young girl into the dark world of sex slavery, many times a night.

With more than one million girls and boys enslaved in the human trafficking industry across the world today, the powers of darkness seem overwhelming. But the words of Isaiah 1:17 hold a deep calling for Crossworld workers in Cambodia: “Seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless.”

By God’s grace, they aim to put a stop to Satan’s destruction.

Most missionaries who fight the human trafficking industry work in the first two steps: rescue and restoration. They take the children out of the situation and put them into a safe place where they can experience love and care while learning basic life skills such as problem-solving, general education, health care, punctuality, and work ethic. In these steps, they begin the long road to wholeness and empowerment. This helps prepare them for the third step: reintegration.

In reintegration, trafficking survivors learn trade skills such as cooking, sewing, management, technology, farming, or hair styling, that will help them get a job. With legitimate employment, they see they have value, and they are less likely to return to the degrading work of the night. This is where Crossworld workers come in.

Joe and Natalie are on a team integrating abused boys into a restaurant where international foods are infused with local flavors. The restaurant attracts customers not only for its quality food, but also for the nature of the social enterprise — bringing abused boys into newness of life, spiritually, socially, emotionally, and physically.

Sarah works in partnership with an established denim factory that produces high-end jeans for international markets. Sales began to soar when the Duchess of Sussex wore a pair of their jeans, and the boost allowed the factory to hire more employees — at-risk women who were previously in human trafficking. Now the company employs about 50 women who are well on their way to wholeness through a better lifestyle and, more importantly, through understanding who Jesus is.

After visiting these three in Cambodia, my wife and I came away thinking, This is just what Jesus would do. Certainly this is making disciples wherever life happens. The world may call it economic lift or social enterprise. Jesus calls it loving your neighbor and proclaiming “release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).

How can you encourage these workers today?

  1. Pray for them. Pray for boldness to speak out against injustice and perseverance to finish the task at hand.
  2. Join the work. With more than one million trapped in human trafficking today, the need for more workers is great. See how you can join the work.

Larry Sharp served 21 years with Crossworld in Brazil as teacher and principal of Amazon Valley Academy and president of Missão Cristã Evangélica do Brasil. He returned to the U.S. in 1993 to become vice president at Crossworld’s home office. After 20 years as an executive, he is now Vice President Emeritus and a business consultant for Crossworld.

The people in this story are real, but their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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