Daniel Walker's book, God In a Brothel, focuses on one of the most painful and tragic aspects of poverty: child exploitation through the sex trade, sex abuse, slavery, gangs, and drugs. At Compassion we grapple with these ugly issues every day, but we don't often feature them in our materials.
Many organizations use exploitation in their fundraising, falsely assuming that givers can be motivated by pity or guilt; the "pornography of poverty" is the result. We disagree with that perspective and feel that both the poor as well as compassionate donors deserve to be treated with more dignity and respect. Our message tends to focus more on hope, vision, passion, dreams, and possibilities—the other side of the coin.
Our staff around the world constantly fight for children and heroically confront evil face to face.
The rescue of children enslaved in the sex trade is dramatic, grips our hearts, and desperately needs to be done. But for a girl to be enslaved in a Bangkok brothel, an awful lot of things had to have been wrong upstream in her young life, and we at Compassion believe there is an equally compelling, powerfully strategic approach called prevention. It may have less "marketing" sizzle, but it is our goal to make sure children and families don't fall into that trap in the first place. As Frederick Douglass said, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." Prevention is where Compassion puts the bulk of its energy, commitment, and resources on your behalf.
The statistics are staggering. There are 27 million people living as slaves in our world today. That is far more than were enslaved when William Wilberforce fought for the abolition of slavery in the early 1800s. Today's slavery is less visible and obvious, and the majority of modern-day slaves are children. They're not selected for their strong backs and bulging muscles, but for their vulnerability, their innocent little bodies, and how easily they can be controlled and exploited.
Jesus was never more angry and forceful than when people were mistreating children. He didn't softly coo the words, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them." He roared those words in great indignation (Mk. 10:14). He saved the most graphic, passionate expressions of His heart for when He sternly warned in Matthew 18:6, "If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." Essentially, He told them—and us through the centuries since—Don't harm My children! "Do not despise one of these little ones" (Mt. 18:10). "Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish" (Mt. 18:14).
God couldn't have made it clearer that the abuse of children breaks His heart, inflames His passion, and will reap His most powerful condemnation and punishment. And Compassion's ministry is right at the epicenter of His kingdom's priorities. What we do is profoundly Christian and incredibly important—in this world and the next! Sadly, the poison of this evil is not just "out there"; it's also here, in our own country, our own cities, churches, and homes.
In the United States, one in every three little girls is sexually abused before her 18th birthday, and one in every six little boys. And it's usually not some deviant villain hanging out in the street-corner shadows, but rather a person the child knows and trusts—even a church leader. If you've ever read my story of being abused in Too Small to Ignore, you understand that I speak from personal experience.
I am convinced that nothing delights Satan more than when the spirit of a child is destroyed by abuse early in his or her innocence. I am also convinced that nothing delights the heart of God more than when a child is rescued, blessed, and discipled to be "released from poverty" and given the chance to reach his or her full God-given potential.
If you aren't already sponsoring a child through Compassion, would you consider it? Sometimes it is only involvement in Compassion's program that protects a child from a life of certain horror. Your involvement in your sponsored children's lives is loving, strategic, and eternally important. May God bless you as you have blessed His little ones.
Visit the Patheos Book Club for more on the new book God in a Brothel: An Undercover Journey Into Sex Trafficking Rescue.