OMS Outreach Jan-Apr 2013 - Page 5

I first met Edna at an Every Community for Christ retreat. She is a Filipino woman in her mid-40s, but she has the energy and passion of someone half her age. At the retreat, she approached me about the ministry of Hope61. We soon realized that we shared a burden and a passion. She told me about a young girl named Angel,* who was one of the first children in her outreach ministry to the poor. But within the last year, Angel had stopped coming, and Edna lost contact with her … only to find out that she was “working in the plaza.” This is where the prostitutes work. Edna wanted help. She asked me to come to her province to train her and her leaders in how to help this young girl and protect their community against trafficking. The following Thursday, we were on a three-hour bus ride to see her. God orchestrated that moment at the ECC retreat when Edna and I would meet, and He orchestrated the days we would spend together in her province. On Friday night, God brought Angel to the school yard where Edna’s ministry was held. Edna hadn’t seen Angel in months, but that Friday, at the end of our time with the children, God allowed us to sit with Angel. When I saw her … when I looked into her eyes, it was all I could do to not start sobbing. Only 14 years old … she was just an innocent child, but she was dressed in a way that tried to hide her youth. My heart broke. I prayed silently as Edna spoke to her, and I watched a young girl, aged by the evils of this world, tell her story of pain and desperation. Her life of abuse and neglect had left her vulnerable to exploitation. She wanted to feel loved … she felt the pressure to provide for her family. And soon, Angel found herself being recruited to “belong” with the girls who worked in the plaza and to sell herself to feed her family. Four nights a week, this 14-year-old worked for $10 a day. After talking and praying with Angel … after offering help and a way out, we felt encouraged. But when I talked to Edna in the days that followed, she said Angel did not show up in church on Sunday. I wish I could share a success story, but that’s not always the reality. We aren’t giving up hope or letting her go though. We trust that God will be victorious in saving this young life. Edna, her leaders and I continue to meet as we go through the human trafficking prevention training and pray for God’s leading and development of ministry in this area. I know the road to recovery is hard. I know the statistics on recidivism. I know the reality of this child’s (and so many others’) situation. But that night was the first step to a victory for the Lord. A relationship was reestablished … a connection was made … hope was given. The God of justice and redemption is mighty; His healing is sufficient; His power is unmatched, His Gospel penetrating. He is sovereign, and He planned that Friday night before the beginning of time. Editor’s Note: Hope61’s mission is to train national leaders in the churches we work with around the world. We train these leaders to become aware of the situation, we teach them the biblical perspectives of anti-human trafficking, and we equip them to take an active role in ministering to their community and protecting those vulnerable from being exploited. Although the ministry focus of the missionaries sent out through Hope61 is not on the rescue of victims, God intervened and brought Angel into Lauren’s path. *Name changed for privacy. Child Just a By Lauren Biebel, OMS Missionary in the Philippines, Hope61 5