Tag Archives: Team Iraq 2012

Modern Day Slavery

14 Jun

Blog post by Cathleen Brown, Team Iraq 2012

“And, sir, when we think of eternity, and of the future consequences of all human conduct, what is there in this life that should make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice, the laws of religion, and of God?” 

William Wilberforce stated these words while fighting for freedom for slaves in 1781, in England in front of the British Parliament.   He believed it was the job of ordinary men, not just political leaders to stop the injustice of slavery.  In 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing anyone held as a slave.  The end drew near for the African slave trade due to persuasive words, incessant ambition, and continual conviction from God by these God fearing men.  Little did they know, the slave trade would still continue more than 200 years after Wilberforce and 150 years after Lincoln.  It would occur again, and not openly accepted, but just as heinous as before;  hidden, with less acceptance in culture, yet driven by money hungry pedophiles and ordinary men.  These men are not dissimilar to the men of the past.  It is human sex trafficking, the second-largest organized crime in the world.

It is estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year in internationally and between 50 and 60 percent of the children are under the age of 16 (UNICEF).  Human trafficking of orphans internationally and domestically is driven by pornography and greed.  Winfrey defines child sex trafficking:

Sex Trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years.

Orphans are vulnerable to trafficking as they are emotionally, mentally and physically not able to defend themselves, they have no one to stand up for them them and due to poverty, are often sold by family members so others may have food and shelter.  In order to prevent the trafficking of orphans, there must be a place for the children to go that is an alternative to the deplorable option of trafficking life where they are loved and cared for.  The communities need education, prevention, strict justice for the traffickers, and rehabilitation for the children taken out of the sex trade. Continue reading

IJM Opened My Eyes

11 Jun

Blog post by Heather Jensen, Team Iraq 2012

The Team Iraq ladies dressed in traditional Kurdish dress.

“You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.” [Psalm 10:17-18]

A couple of years ago, an organization called “International Justice Mission” came and spoke at our church.  The president of this organization, Gary Haugen, wrote a book entitled Terrify No More, which is from Psalm 10. This book details the many children who are enslaved within child brothels, forced to have sex with strange men. I was heartbroken by the stories of these children’s lives and the horrors that are forced upon them.  Young girls are sold by their families, deceived by people close to them, or kidnapped into this industry. Countries where child prostitution is prevalent include Thailand, Cambodia, India, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. It is estimated that 40% of prostitutes in Thailand are children. In Cambodia, 1/3 of all prostitutes are under the age of 18 and in India, an estimated 1.2 million children are involved in prostitution. Sadly, an estimated $12 billion a year is made on child trafficking, both around the world and in North America.

While reading Gary’s book and researching this topic, I came across some of the most horrific truths of this world. There are people who travel to the countries listed above for the specific purpose of having sex with children. About 25% of child sex tourists are US citizens. IJM runs undercover operations to free these children. They have caught on tape conversations with North American sex tourists who, while unaware of being taped, have offered advice on how to get away with visiting these countries for sex with children.  I read about a young girl who was sold by her neighbour to a brothel. She was forced to have sex with a grown man and when she cried during this horrific act, they taped her mouth shut. I read about brothel owners beating the girls who tried to escape. I read about “sex parties” being arranged and groups of girls being sent to hotels to service sex tourists .

Orphans are so vulnerable to being trapped within a life like this. The orphan is preyed upon by the greedy and demented acts, which reveal the worst of human depravity. To view a short IJM video about the issue of human trafficking, click on this link.

If you want to know more about what’s being done about this issue, visit IJM’s website.

Heather resides in Canada and is currently serving with Journey117 in Iraq. 

Transformed by the Love of Christ

24 May

Blog post by Amber, Team Iraq 2012

At an early age, my eyes were opened to a world of pain, fear, and helplessness. The event that revealed this world to me marks the beginning of years of hatred and depression. The one who claimed the paternal role (often thought of as the defender or protector) in my life was my offender. The one with the maternal role consciously allowed me to be in a position where I was waiting to be the victim of something worse.

I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone what happened, and this left me completely alone. I hated myself for being unable to change things or protect others, for being the outsider in my “family,” and because I believed the endless stream of insults and curses that were thrown at me. I finally turned to self-harm at age 15, and this quickly became an addiction.

I was the one with the knife in pocket and candy cane sleeves. I was the one who was always happy, smiling, and laughing; nobody saw through that. I was the one who wished I had never been born. The one who deemed myself hated and unlovable. I moved out when I turned 16 and spent the next two years at different friends’ homes and in my car.

One day when I was 16, God spoke to me through a stranger. This man proclaimed the truth of God’s unconditional love for me. It was this love that transformed my heart and my life. Without Jesus Christ, life is no better than death, and I’m so thankful that He has blessed me with life and a desire to serve Him with every second of my life.

My journey is one of blessing. Being blessed is consciously living in God’s will, seeing how the Lord is working, and making His desires my own. Despite my circumstances, the blessed life is that with Christ.

This is the life that I desire to share with orphans and widows. Those who have lost much, understand what it means to truly be alone, or believe that nobody loves them. Because I understand being helpless against those who hurt me, I am determined to be the help for victims of abuse. Because I know what it’s like to have nobody to turn to when I can’t do it alone anymore, I am determined to be that support for others who have nobody to turn to. I pray that God will allow me to be this person in the lives of many and that in doing so, His glory would be revealed and proclaimed in the hearts of these people.

This opportunity to serve God in Iraq was a direct answer to prayer. The Lord has already been filling me with an overwhelming love for these orphans, Iraqis, and Kurds that I have yet to meet, and I can’t wait to see how God works this summer!

Amber resides in Minnesota and will be serving with Journey 117 in June on the Iraq team.

Eyes Wide Open

18 May

Heather on her first mission trip at Lebanese Evangelical School in Ain Zhalta, Lebanon. (April 2011)

Blog post by Heather, Team Iraq 2012

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with many children. God gave me a love for them from an early age and has opened many doors of opportunity for serving with children in different capacities. It gives me great joy to work with children and each one I’ve met has been a blessing to me. Over the past couple of years, the Lord has opened my eyes to the abuse and neglect of children around the world and also the teachings of His word in regards to the orphan. I was able to read stories of children in bonded slavery and those trapped within child brothels. I had opportunities to hear missionaries speak in our church about how they uprooted their lives and families to follow the commands of Isaiah 1:17 and defend the cause of the fatherless and plead the case of the widow. I served alongside my parents who are missionaries in Lebanon, where we visited a girl’s home and I was able to befriend a young girl who experienced the neglect and abandonment of her family. All of this has placed a burden on my heart for the children of this world. I look forward to the Lord working in me and through me on this trip to accomplish His purposes in fulfilling His word – to look after orphans and widows in their distress.

Heather resides in Ontario, Canada and will be serving with Journey 117 in June on the Iraq team.

 

Preying on the Fatherless

15 May

Blog post by Tyler M., Team Iraq 2012

In today’s world, human trafficking is a huge problem in not only third world countries, but all over the globe.  Unfortunately, orphans are prime targets for human traffickers for many reasons.  By definition, orphans lack the protection and supervision of parents and much of the time have no close family that will or can take them in.  Because of this, it is much easier for traffickers to come in and take them away without anyone even blinking twice.  There are over 145 million orphans worldwide, and that’s not even including children who are victims of abandonment or children who are sold/trafficked. Every year about 1.2 million children are trafficked and 2 million children are sexually exploited in the commercial sex industry.  Without the exceedingly high number of orphans in the world today, child slavery and trafficking would decline massively because traffickers would have a much more difficult time finding easy prey.  In essence, solving the orphan problem basically eradicates the problem of child trafficking.  We just need to act.

Rescue an orphan. Change the world.

Tyler resides in New Jersey and will be serving with Journey 117 in June on the Iraq team.

What do Jerry Maguire and James 1:27 have in common?

11 May

Blog post authored by Matt, Director of Advocacy, World Orphans

Typing this blog post I feel a bit like Jerry Maguire writing the mission statement, “The Things We Think and Do Not Say: The Future of Our Business.” Here’s hoping I don’t end up all alone holding a goldfish.

Question … How do you define your faith? No, I don’t want the “being sure of what you cannot see” line we are quick to throw around. I want tangibles. I want your answer to be able to go to class with you for show-n-tell.

Let me put it a different way. If faith without works is dead, and you and I believe our faith in Jesus is alive and well; then what do we point to for evidence?

Unfortunately, the tendency for most Christians is to first look at the following categories:

Church attendance.
What you drop in the offering plate.
Our frequency in studying the Bible.
Certain things you might abstain from (alcohol, certain types of entertainment, etc.)
Milestones in our spiritual journey (baptism, confirmation, etc.)

I admit it, I have been guilty of measuring myself by these standards for the majority of my life. As a result, I developed an unsatisfyingly-hollow “checklist” type of relationship with God. Did I read my Bible today? Check. Did I tithe this past Sunday? Check.

Sound familiar? Continue reading

Taking a Stand Against Child Soldiering

9 May

Blog post by Katrina F., Team Iraq 2012

I chose to research the topic of child soldiers.  I honestly did not know a thing about what was going on until I started researching… and I am sick to my stomach as I sit here reading quotes from actual child soldiers and the things they are made to do.  They are made to do some sick things, so sick.  They have to kill their best friends to prove their loyalty, they are beaten to death sometimes for no reason at all, the girl soldiers are raped repeatedly at night by the other youth soldiers and adult men… at ages of 11 years old… and if they cry, they will beat them.  It is seriously one of the worst things I have ever heard.

As I research, most of my quotes from the children came from this website.  You too will be sick after reading a lot of these “voices” of these child soldiers.  Continue reading

Moved to Take Action

8 May

Blog post by Tyler M., Team Iraq 2012

Tyler (left) served with Journey 117 in 2011 to help lead the summer orphan outreach camp in Moldova.

I think God has raised me up in a way that has instilled a special place in my heart for children.  All my life I’ve been in close contact with kids of all ages.  I grew up with three little sisters around the house and participated in all kinds of Bible camps and programs for kids, going from camper to staff member when I got older.  I also work at an indoor rock climbing gym, a prime birthday party setting for kids ages 5 and up.  I spend a lot of my week with kids, and no matter what, they always bring a smile to my face.

It breaks my heart that all over the world, children are living without anyone to love and care for them, and most of all living without the hope found in Christ.  Just imagining one of my little sisters in the position of an orphan living on her own is terrifying, and knowing that there are millions of kids who live it each day moves me to take action.

Tyler resides in New Jersey and will be serving with Journey 117 in June on the Iraq team.

A Father to the Fatherless

7 May

Blog post by Justin H., Team Iraq 2012

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” [Psalm 68:5]

My parents divorced when I was just 3 years old, so I have no idea what life was like with both my parents.  After the divorce, I spent very little time with my father.  I started to believe he didn’t love me and that I was worthless to him.  I was very depressed, and often thought of running away…or worse.  My church and the Bible taught me that God is our Father in Heaven, and that he loved me.  This was extremely difficult to believe, because not even my earthly father, living in the same city, seemed to care.  How could a Father way up in Heaven, with all the people there are in the world, care for me?

In my darkest, most depressed moments, I would cry out to God.  And in those moments, I believe God heard my cry and revealed to me his undeniable love for me.  Over time, I began to see how God was a loving father to me and was always there for me.  I discovered verses in the Bible that show God’s particular love for the fatherless, which were very encouraging to a boy that often felt completely fatherless.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  [2 Corinthians 1:3-4]

Fast forward to today.  God has blessed my life incredibly, with great peace, assurance, and a steady faith in God and his Word.  I look for ways to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and obey his great commission to make disciples all over the world–including Iraq.  I cannot wait to learn more about how God is moving and how the Gospel is spreading in Iraq.  More and more, I also want to find ways to bring comfort and love to those who are fatherless.  I want to tell them and show them that our Father in Heaven is real and that he does so absolutely love them.

This is my Journey.

Justin resides in Texas and will be serving with Journey 117 in June on the Iraq team.

A Journey of Adoption and Orphan Care

1 May

Blog post by Katrina F., Team Iraq 2012

The “Journey” that has led me to where I find myself at this moment is a long story… a 4 year long story.  After my husband and I got married, 4 1/2 years ago, we started trying to start a family.  We have been through A LOT.  Infertility is an ugly thing… and it robs you of so much, but through it all, we have grown closer to one another, closer to God, and our faith has never been stronger.  We know that God has a plan for our lives and although some days I wish He would appear to me and at least clue me in on what it is, I know that there is a perfect plan in place and in time it will all be revealed.

My heart started growing for the less fortunate, especially orphans, as we could not have children ourselves and I really started to see how many children are truly out there that need so much and have so little.  My husband and I were in church one Sunday when the pastor brought in families who were moving to other countries to be missionaries… and one family in particular was going to Burkina Faso, Africa.  They showed a video of the children there in the orphanage that they were going to help out with –  they were literally living in cages (wire fences) on dirt. It was heartbreaking.  Immediately following the service, my husband and I seriously started talking about adoption and decided we were sure.  We wanted to adopt.  We had been praying about it… and now was the time. Continue reading