Patriotism is More Complicated Than It Used to Be

I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled blogging to bring you this 4th of July-related piece. I will return next week with Part Two of the Orphanage series.  -Elizabeth

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But first, a shameless plug for Rapha House. Seeing as how this week we Americans celebrate Independence Day, along with our MANY freedoms, and seeing as how this blog post is about that self-same topic, I thought this would be a great time to highlight the work of this amazing anti-trafficking group, based in our home state of Missouri.

I really SUPER believe in the work of Rapha House, who strives to create sustainable freedom for girls in Southeast Asia. And their work is quite comprehensive — in addition to providing safehouses for girls and vocational training programs to prepare for their futures, Rapha House also works in the community to prevent trafficking.

We first heard of Rapha House in 2009, and in 2011 Jonathan’s “Fireworks for Freedom” dream was born. You can see the original promo video here (but be forewarned, it might make you cry). This year, Rapha House launched a new logo and a Fireworks for Freedom online store for people in the Joplin area. 25% of fireworks purchases on the website go to Rapha House.

But even if you don’t live in the Joplin area, you can still save back some of your fireworks money and donate it to Rapha House this week (or any time of year! really!). And now, on to today’s blog post.

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I’m happy to live in Cambodia. I now have friends from all over the world — Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Britain, Germany, among other places. I love the availability of international food. (Pretty sure life would not be the same without regular access to Indian food.) I attend an international church with people from 30 other nations, many of them Asian. Somewhere along the lines all those things combined, and I started considering myself a global citizen more than an American citizen.

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No Pit So Deep?

— By Elizabeth

During worship this morning, we sang these words:

Ascribe greatness to our God, the Rock,
His work is perfect and all His ways are just.
A God of faithfulness, without injustice,
Good and upright is He.
 

Later during the service, as usual, I took Faith to the unstaffed nursery. And as usual, I talked with other parents. But not as usual, I listened to one parent talk about an anti-trafficking ministry in a particular part of town. There, parents sell their children for the day, often as punishment for irritating the parents. These children aren’t permanent residents of any brothels but they’re abused nonetheless. This ministry offers daytime care for the children and parenting classes as a prevention strategy. One of their goals is to be able provide overnight shelter for the children during holidays.  These children and their parents are technically homeless, so in preparation of the holiday festivities, men, women, and children are cleared off the streets, forced into containers and taken out of the city.  Families are separated.  There are no toilet facilities in the containers. Adults abuse the children during their containment.  Afterwards children must find their parents on their own

Who does that to children? To families? To human beings?  Smells like . . . Holocaust.

After that conversation I met a lady who works with an after-care organization. They provide safe houses and counseling for rescued girls.  One of their after-care facilities is actually next door to us.  Girls living there are mid-teens who have been through the initial rescue and intensive counseling but whose homes are not safe to go back to — often because it was their families who trafficked them in the first place. We’ve noticed how teen boys flock to this house.  The woman who spoke with me today told me that these sexual issues are never fully settled for the girls. The issues return when they have their first boyfriend. The issues return when they get married. The issues return when they have their first baby.

I stood there and cried.

You see, I fell in love for the first time when I was 17. And it was beautiful. I married that same boy when I was 18.  And it was beautiful. We had our first baby when I was 22. And again, it was beautiful.

Sexual slavery did not mar the blessings of love, marriage, and babies for me. The “God of faithfulness, without injustice” was faithful for me.

Is He faithful and just for girls in Asia?

May it be that you – and I – can proclaim, along with Corrie ten Boom, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”