Archive for the category “Children”

America’s dirty little secret: Selling children for sex

John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute writes:

Every two minutes, a child is exploited in the sex industry.

Children, young girls — some as young as 9 years old — are being bought and sold for sex in America. The average age for a young woman being sold for sex is now 13 years old.

On average, a child might be raped by 6,000 men during a five-year period of servitude.

Sex trafficking — especially when it comes to the buying and selling of young girls — has become big business in America, the fastest growing business in organized crime and the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drugs and guns ….

We are all guilty of contributing to this human suffering. The traffickers are guilty. The consumers are guilty. The corrupt law enforcement officials are guilty. The women’s groups who do nothing are guilty. The foreign peacekeepers and aid workers who contribute to the demand for sex slaves are guilty. Most of all, every individual who does not raise a hue and cry over the atrocities being committed against women and children in almost every nation around the globe—including the United States—is guilty.

Read the full article by clicking here.
Contact
the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to learn how you can help.

 

 

Syria: The sounds of war echo in the children’s ears

Syrian children are being crippled by the ongoing violence in their country. The war has become “the biggest humanitarian tragedy since the Rwandan genocide,” says UN refugees commissioner Antonio Guterres. An estimated 3 million Syrians have fled the country, 6.5 million are displaced within the country, and 3 million more need humanitarian help.

Our humanitarian partner, BGR, shares this compelling story:

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Click photo to enlarge

BEIRUT, Lebanon — With dirt on her face, the small girl shyly approached the crowd holding a pack of lighters for sale. Barely reaching the height of an adult’s waist, she glanced upward at passersby asking in Arabic if they would purchase one of her multicolored lighters. When asked how old she was, she responded shyly that she was 4.

Walking the streets of Beirut, Lebanon, it is impossible to miss the children weaving through the cars and crowds. They walk up to strangers holding items to sell, such as lighters, roses, gum packets and a variety of non-essential items.

As each day passes of the Syrian conflict that began in March 2011, the childhood and futures of many Syrian children are threatened.

The conflict erupted into a full-scale war that has destroyed homes and schools — and left the children’s innocence in the rubble. Children have watched as they lost family members and as explosions destroyed their schools. Some have experienced physical wounds themselves.

More than 5 million Syrian children are affected by the ongoing conflict, and it is estimated that more than half of the 2.2 million Syrian refugees are children, the UN says.

As many families have been internally displaced, children are forced to begin to work to help provide for their families, are recruited for the militia or are advised to stay in doors to not be harmed. Some children have been out of school for three years and are forgetting what they have previously studied.

Rayan* works for a ministry in Syria whose sole initiative is to provide education and trauma therapy to children. She explains how many of the children have lost their fathers and brothers to the war, the men fighting on either side of the forces.

While the teachers provide the children with the opportunity to learn English, Arabic and math, the teachers also believe it is important to teach the children not to have hatred or suspicion of one another and learn to love each other.

“Children feel like they are rejected. They are feeling [this] because they are children of rebels or terrorists and feel conflicted,” Rayan said. “People tell them they are the reason for why everything is happening. But I say, ‘You are children. God loves you. You are not the reason for what has happened; you are the hope of Syria.’”

In addition to the threat of young boys being involved in the fighting, girls face the risk of sexual violence. Desperate not to subject their daughters to potential horrors, many families are deciding to marry their daughters to suitors in Syria and abroad. Early marriage sometimes is used as a “cover” for sexual exploitation, a recent report from Save the Children said. The girls are “divorced” after a short time and sent back to their families.

Outside of Syria, children face a different type of potential harm.

An increasing number of children have taken to the streets of Lebanon to sell or beg for money. Lebanon houses more than 826,669 registered Syrian refugees, with 52 percent of them being children. Many of the children are not in school and they are resorting to street work or manual labor to help provide for themselves or their families. The UN is launching a “Back to Learning” campaign, which “provides for informal education so children don’t fall too far behind.”

Another country greatly affected by the war, Jordan, is working alongside NGOs to provide schooling for Syrian refugees. More than half a million Syrians that were registered with the UN refugee agency at the end of September, were women and children. Children from 5 to 17 make up 25 percent of the Syrian refugee population in Jordan, according to the New York Times.

Organizations throughout the region are fighting not to let this generation of children be forgotten. Faris*, a Christian Syrian, said, “We have so many kids that are growing up with the sounds of war. These kids — they shouldn’t have to listen to that. They should have a place that is peaceful and secure and not have to worry about the war. That is a big [prayer] request,” he said.

As Syrian Christians are working tirelessly to help the children around them who are struggling, organizations and ministries are working outside of Syria. The reason Rayan continues in her ministry to children in Syria is because “we want to show them that we are always available for them. We are standing with them.”

*Names changed for security reasons.

How can you help? Click here to find out.

At-risk children central to church’s Gospel task

city lifeTobin Perry writes at Baptist Press about City Life Church in Wichita, Kansas, which pursues a vision of seeing the gospel “transform everything — ourselves, our church, our city and the world.”

… It begins in Wichita, where more than 600,000 people live in the metro area. [The church’s website says] “We believe church-planting can reach the darkest corners of our city for Christ. City Life is committed to … send out gospel-driven, city-focused people to declare and demonstrate the gospel to the people of our city.”

At-risk children are a key part of that commitment, with at least 50 City Life members involved in various aspects of outreach to families in crisis; 15 families are either licensed for foster care or in the process of being licensed.

Whether bringing children from troubled families into their homes or mentoring broken families toward healing, church planter Casey Casamento acknowledged it’s tough and often messy work.

Some parents want little to do with mentoring. Others struggle to make changes that will lead to their children’s return.

“We care for their children, but we also share the love of Christ with their families and extended families,” Casamento said. Referencing a 19-year-old man whose child was put into the care of a church family, Casamento said both the man and his mother now attend City Life Church.

“Ultimately, we do this for the sake of the Gospel,” said Casamento, a Wichita native. “We exist to bring glory to God and for the good of our city.”

Casamento started City Life Church in 2011 after 12 years in youth ministry, the last six in Wichita. His involvement in local community groups opened his eyes to the city’s physical and spiritual needs.

“I didn’t know what that burden meant back then, but I just knew that I had a huge burden for Wichita,” Casamento said. “So when I felt led to plant a church, I knew that it was in this city.”

Wichita, which has grown by nearly 12 percent since 2000, isn’t hostile to the Gospel. But with more than half of the residents uninvolved in any religious group, Casamento sees a high level of spiritual apathy.

“We have to go to them and build relationships with people in the city,” he said. “It takes time to reach someone for Christ. They need to trust you and see that you love them.”

In planting the church, Casamento developed a core team with weekly vision meetings and Bible studies. City Life now averages between 400 and 500 in attendance and has baptized 100 in two years.

The church now meets in the historic Orpheum Theater in downtown Wichita. Casamento believes the iconic location has been a draw for people who wouldn’t normally attend church. But the church’s main focus isn’t where it meets but mobilizing members to become missionaries where they live.

“Our vision is for those in our church to understand that we have the Gospel and now we have a responsibility to carry that Gospel out into our city — to exemplify the Gospel through good deeds, to be — as it says in Matthew 6 – ‘a city on the hill,'” Casamento said. “But it’s also to communicate the Gospel, to know that God is leading us and calling us to present His good news to everyone.”

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Read the full text of this article by clicking here.

Learn how to help neglected neighbors, communities and children through the North American Mission Board by clicking here.

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