Sweetly Broken

Last summer I went to a youth conference called Momentum. The theme was “seeing the unseen”, based on James 1:27.

And the religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Last summer, that last part rocked my world. It still does.

Keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

In a nutshell, live in but not of. I have heard that verse quoted and requoted and preached upon a thousand times over, but somehow, that last part of the verse always falls through the cracks.

Keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Don’t let the things of this world corrupt you. Don’t become callused by the things of this world. Don’t be blind to the hurting, broken, suffering people of this world.

Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours.

In July, I went to a week long retreat, promising to see the unseen. To love them, to make them seen. Begging God to make them seen to me, to give me a heart for them, to see.

I had no idea how that promise would change my life.

In January, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw something about modern day slavery. I kept scrolling.

Everyone knew slavery was abolished long ago, and if it was in some other poor African country, that was their problem.

So I continued to scroll past posts about slavery for weeks. Why should I care?

One Sunday night in January, I was told why I should care.

Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours.

There were 27 million modern day slaves. According to the US Census, 200,000 of those are in the United States. 15,000 new slaves are trafficked in annually. Like toys made in China, people are bought and sold.

The average human slave sells for just 90 dollars, even here in America. Toddlers are forced to work in brick yards. Young girls, sometimes still in elementary school, are forced into human trafficking. Their owners sell their bodies up to 40 different times on a slow night.

On a slow night, they are prostituted out to 40 different men.

Not even on an average night. On a slow night.

According to the 2013 report, America has a higher percentage of slaves than Cuba, a known Communistic nation.

Now, just months later, the numbers have skyrocketed to 28.9 million slaves.

It’s time that 28.9 million people stop going unseen.

Give me Your eyes for just one second

Give me Your eyes so I can see

Everything that I keep missing

Give me Your love for humanity

Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted

The ones that are far beyond my reach

Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten

Give me Your eyes so I can see.

~Brandon Heath

 This is the story of Jenna, a teenage girl trapped in slavery, a victim of sex trafficking. On a slow night, she is forced to have sex 30-40, so another man can make money off of her. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

8AM: Such a long night. My body aches all over & no amount of showers can get ride of the stench of the men.

9AM: Can’t sleep & drugs aren’t working. I have to rest or I won’t be able to perform tonight. Can’t take another beating.

10AM: Cindy’s been crying all morning…missing her mom. I tried to comfort her, but can’t bother to get too attached.

11AM: I’m so hungry. I wonder if anyone will feed us today…

FACT: Jenna “works” against her will, never receiving a dime. This is one way her trafficker keeps her dependent on him.

12PM: Started thinking about my baby boy. Will I ever get to hold him again? It’s probably better he’s not in my life.

1PM: “He” just walked in the apartment & is pissed. He didn’t make enough off of me last night. It’s never enough.

FACT: Jenna’s trafficker makes a living selling her to men online, forcing her to have sex with them night after night.

2PM: Cindy & I both got beat this time. My nose is broken, maybe my arm too. We got it bad before but not this bad.

FACT: Traffickers physically abuse & threaten girls as a fear tactic to control them into submission.

3PM: I try to lay down again to get some rest, but the nightmares never stop. Why did I believe all “his” lies?

FACT: Victims are often deceived into situations like Jenna’s by believing promises of a better life.

4PM: My head’s pounding. I know “he” would tell me I just need a fix, but I don’t want any more of that poison.

FACT: Traffickers often drug women to disorient, weaken & numb their instincts.

5PM: “He” just got back & told me to get cleaned up. “He” said I got a busy night ahead.

6PM: Time to fix my makeup for tonight. I used to love playing dress-up cuz it made me feel pretty. Now I just feel dirty.

FACT: Girls often fall prey to traffickers around the ages of 11 – 14 years old.

7PM: My first “client” just walked in. He’s older & said I look like his daughter’s friend. I just don’t get it.

8PM: That was so awful! He called me bad names the whole time & kept hurting me. Who will help me?

FACT: Victims often don’t know who to get help from or how to get out of the situation they’re in. They feel powerless.

9PM: “He” just brought in a businessman. He’s been having problems with his wife. I don’t care. Why would he come here?

FACT: In Atlanta, 42% of men who purchase sex are from the northern suburbs.

10PM: I wish I could escape from this hell & go back to school in Michigan. There’s no hope for my life. I’m trapped.

FACT: Victims are sometimes trafficked across state lines to isolate & confuse them by being in a new city.

11PM: I just wanna run away, but I’m scared “he’d” kill me & hurt my family.

FACT: Traffickers often threaten to hurt victims’ friends & family as a means of control.

12AM: I feel so dirty, used; worthless. God, won’t you ever save me? I want out of this life.

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