Imagine with me for a moment the life of an eleven year old girl named Sherlanda. Sherlanda lives with her mother in a tent city in Port-au-Prince, Haiti until one day disaster strikes. Sherlanda’s mother dies in an earthquake and Sherlanda is left to fend for herself. Alone and defenseless, Sherlanda is raped and exploited by the men around her until a Christian organization steps in to rescue her.
Sadly, this isn’t just Sherlada’s story. Thousands of girls could tell similar stories. And the problem of sexual slavery goes far beyond Haiti.
Unfortunately, for many people the word “slavery” conjures up vague images of the civil war, Abraham Lincoln, and the Emancipation proclamation. So let’s stop and clarify. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a slave as “a person held in servitude as the chattel of another.” Translation: slavery takes a beautiful girl like Sherlanda, created in God’s image, and treats her like property.
Recently, I travelled to Haiti. For the first time, I met the Sherlandas of the world. I learned their names. I can recognize their faces.
I know Haiti seems far away when you live in America. But did you know that slavery exists here too?
‘The Freedom Center’ reports that up to 27 million people are caught in some form of slavery. Think about that number. 27 million.
Between 14,000 and 17,500 of these people are trafficked into the U.S. annually (The Christian Science Monitor, read their article—the statistics will shock you).
Of those trafficked internationally, 80 percent are female, and 70 percent end up in the commercial sex trade.
Those are big numbers and it’s easy to dismiss them the way we dismiss US debt numbers. Don’t.
Jesus died for every one of those girls. Every single one has a story—just like Sherlanda.
You might think “Slavery is a huge problem, but I’m just one person. I can’t make a difference.” But if that’s what you’re thinking, you’re wrong.
Here are three simple ways you can make a difference today.
1) Pray—pray for Sherlanda; she is a real girl. Pray for the end of slavery and the salvation of modern day slaves. Prayer makes a difference. Read Luke 18 where Jesus tells the story of the persistent widow. Jesus concludes, “Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice speedily” (18: 6-8).
Luke tells us Jesus told this parable “to show them they should always pray and not lose heart” (18:1). Prayer makes a difference because Jesus makes a difference.
2) Educate yourself and the people around you. Be aware. People don’t act because they don’t know. Ignorance fuels inactivity. You have the opportunity to be a voice for girls like Sherlanda. Don’t remain silent.
3) Donate to organizations that fight modern day slavery.
I enthusiastically support and recommend Women At Risk Int’l and the International Justice Mission. Both organizations work hard to rescue slaves from both physical and spiritual chains. They are doing a fantastic work.
By taking all or even only one of these three steps you can make a difference!
William Wilberforce once said, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
On behalf of Sherlanda, I’m asking you: Please choose to act.