I was just sitting here thinking about how I wrote about sex and then I welcomed the (beautiful) work of a gay, Jewish friend (gasp!), and now anything I post will be met with a sad trombone; you know, the bluesy WompWomp of disappointment. Not that I aim to incite a riot every time I post anything, but it just feels weird to be like, “SEX!....GAY JEW!!....KITTENS!!!”
But then I remembered that I have nothing to say about kittens, and also I remembered what I sat down to write about today, and I realized that there's no greater scandal happening on Earth, so it's all good. Crisis averted. Whew! That was close one.
So. A little while ago, I got an email from an internet friend. I had been a guest on his podcast a few years back, but this time he was inviting me to do something different. He told me he'd been working with a coalition of groups to end child slavery. He asked if I'd be interested in coming to Southeast Asia, to see their work first hand. “No strings attached.”, he said, “We just want you to see.”
I was intrigued, but I wasn't ready to jump on board.
It's no secret that I'm overly skeptical and I can be an incredibly harsh critic (some might say “uber bitch”) when it comes to the way the North American Church engages the world's problems.
I'm not a fan of poverty tourism. I've seen too many well-intentioned, rich, (usually) white suburbanites streaming in and out of the lives of the poor, the marginalized, the exploited, with cameras in their hands, a false sense of helping, and a giddy kind of torment on their faces. Would there be a purpose behind “seeing” this work? Would there be value in flying across the world to gaze at sweet little babies, bought and sold as prostitutes? I don't think I need to see the places where children are offered up to predators in order to know that it's a living nightmare.
But there's a conversation that needs to begin in my pristine suburban church - one that will make a lot of people uncomfortable. This subject will force a comparison between the lives of our own well-protected children and the boys and girls who are sleeping in brothels, gutters, and alleys on the other side of the planet. And, ultimately - painfully - it will hit us close to home, because I believe this conversation will bridge the gap between what we like to think of as a far away problem and the travesties occurring in our own backyards, sometimes even in our own homes.
We can keep rescuing children from slavery for forever. But if we never address the growing appetite for these kids, it will never end. When we talk about how the people buying sex in India and Asia are often times carrying passports from the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain, we must be willing to admit that they're living in our neighborhoods, working in our offices and, yes, sitting in our churches. With extraordinary Grace, we need to talk about our own sexual brokenness, we need to invite healing, we need to pray for redemption, and we need to bravely call for justice.
So I'm going.
This July, I'm going to South East Asia to see, so that I might speak.
Because it's time to start this conversation. It's time to rescue every last slave on Earth. It's time to Redeem every broken soul. I'm going because it's just time. And we have to start somewhere...
I hope you'll follow along on this journey. And I pray that by taking this trip and talking about it boldly, these pages might become a catalyst for conversation and action, not only at my church, but yours, too. I'll be visiting two hard-working groups in Asia (with whom I'm falling in love, for their courage as much as for their humility). I'll share more as we go, but for today, please check out The Exodus Road and Agape International Missions and be encouraged by what they are doing to end trafficking and slavery.
Oh. And pray. Because I'm seriously crapping my pants over all this... I mean, not seriously, but you know... pretty much crapping myself.
Will you help spread the word? We're starting a conversation you won't want anyone to miss.