While looking around the room at the make up of people present at a recent prayer meeting for Cambodia I was again surprised at who was there. Out of the 15 people present 12 were women and 3 were men. This started me thinking back to another time when I was at a Conference on dealing with the problems associated with the sexual exploitation of children in the World. Out of 180 people who attended, 5 were men. This inspired me and I wrote about how one man can make a difference in the World citing examples of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot for bad, and Moses, William Wilberforce, and Abraham Lincoln for good.
In my six years of being a volunteer for Ratanak International the numbers have stayed the same. Approximately 8 out of every ten volunteers I have seen are woman. This begs the question "If evil men are responsible for the ruining of young children`s lives through their sexual depravity, how come more good men are not coming forward to help these children put their lives back together?"
I am most definitely not a Saint and it is only by the grace of God that I have become involved in restoring these children's lives. At the same meeting mentioned above a lady was praying for the abusers to stop abusing these children. As she prayed so beautifully I was thinking of how I would like to stop them- with a baseball bat.
This invitation is open to all male or female, I only know of my reasons why I found it hard to become involved. Quite possibly not Uncle Sam, but a much higher authority may be calling you.
This quote is from Lisa Cheong, a woman working for Ratanak International in Cambodia. These words came about after she confronted a French pedophile who was trying to purchase a young girl for sexual purposes.
"together we are called to be modern day Moses who God is sending forth to seek justice on behalf of the oppressed into places like Cambodia, a hot bed for sex tourism and sex trafficking.
This battle is not for the faint hearted, it can wear you down, it will disturb your spirit when you hear and read of man`s inhumanity to a child, it will require more than you and I can ever give but none the less, it is worth it- it is a fight for life, it is a fight for dignity, it is a fight for freedom, it is a fight for hope, and it is a fight for love."
These words resonate deeply within me. Lisa uses the example of Moses who the Bible teaches us delivered Israel from slavery out of Egypt. We remember the ten plagues brought down on Egypt, we remember Moses parting the Red Sea with his staff, we think of Moses and all the great things he did. Sometimes we overlook Moses`s humble beginning.
God spoke to Moses in the burning bush, telling him that Moses was to deliver Israel, Moses did not exactly start jumping up and down for joy.
11 Moses said "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
10 Moses said "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant, I am slow of speech and tongue."
13 But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to it."
The latest numbers I have are that currently 27 million people in the world live in slavery. Over 2 million are children living in forced prostitution, at least 30 000 of these live in Cambodia. This is a multi Billion dollar industry.
I believe my whole life will pass with these numbers virtually unchanged, or even getting worse. For some that may seem overwhelming; that is giving a large number of years to a cause that may never change. Many people I know are so stressed about time constraints it is hard for them to commit to anything.
For those who are new to this blog I run one full Marathon every Spring for the exploited children in Cambodia. I came across this fact recently, only 0.5 percent of the population will ever run one full Marathon.
For some, thinking of a lifetime involvement for exploited children may seem like running a marathon. I thought back to some people who have come and gone in the Toronto Core Group for Ratanak International. Early on I remember a person who was such an important part of the group moving on to another calling. I was really concerned as this woman was such a big part of the group that I thought it would be impossible to replace her. The amazing thing is that when someone leaves someone else joins. God has always provided the right people at the right time.
Not everyone will be able to commit to a lifetime of volunteering, as many cannot run a full Marathon.
The Mississauga marathon has an interesting feature which my wife Gloria thought of our family doing one day in the future. It is a relay for people to run a full marathon. 3 people run 10km and the last person runs 12km. Individually these people may not be able to run a marathon, but collectively they can. My experience has been that these people are the most supportive, when you run past them their cheers are the loudest.
I thought of the many people who have crossed paths with me in my work for Ratanak International.
Some are on the life long path, while others carry the baton for a while and than pass it off to someone else who takes over for them. Both types of people are needed.
Fear may also be a factor. Billion dollar illegal activities are controlled by very powerful, very ruthless men. The selling of young children for sexual exploitation shows the lack of moral decency these men have. Factor in a large number of consumers who obviously have no ethics of their own. Last but not least if you believe in good and evil, Heaven and Hell, Angels and Demons, God and Satan it is quite obvious which forces are behind each side in this battle.
I would like to share an example from my recent family vacation about fear and what it may cost you.
While trying to figure out which extra activities our family would try out in Punta Cana we settled on para sailing. We balanced the cost, and the uniqueness of this activity. We figured that we could see Dolphins, water ski, or go on a party boat in Canada but as far we knew we could not para sail.
I made a deal with a salesman for a company that I felt was fair and waited for the perfect day to try this out. I was to take the pictures as para sailing was expensive, and we thought it would be nice for the girls to be together for this.
Gloria was all for it, calm, cool Katarina was ready and Isabella my youngest daughter who usually is full of bravado started out all in favour of it, than started showing signs of fear.
This is extremely out of character, as usually we have to try and rein in Isabella as she usually has no fear. As the day approached Isabella told us "she had changed her mind, and she did not want to go."
Sensing if I did not hurry this issue was going to become bigger. I found the salesman and completed our deal.
On the beach Isabella told us again "she did not want to go." Gloria and I told her "to trust us, we will not let you get hurt."
My family was taken to a boat that was to take us out the deeper waters of the Ocean where the para sail boat waited for us.
The water was very rough, and we had trouble getting on our life jackets. To really frighten Isabella our boat driver smashed into the para sail boat almost having me drop our camera into the Ocean.
I looked at my family as they were being hooked up to the parachute harness. Isabella had a look of abject terror, and was shivering I mouthed the words again to her "trust me."
They took off and a miraculous event happened, Isabella instantly loved the feeling of flying, forgot all of her fears and yelled out something along the lines of "now I am all grown up."
These are some of the words from a Tom Petty song called Learning to Fly
Learning to Fly
I`m learning to fly, but I ain`t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing
Well some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I`ve started out, for God knows where
I guess I`ll know when I get there
I`m learning to fly, but I ain`t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing
These words sum up my involvement so far as a volunteer for Ratanak International. I am learning to fly but I don`t have wings. God only knows where I am to go, and the biggest truth is that coming down is the hardest thing.
My biggest high in life is when my foot crosses the finishing line of whichever marathon I have chosen. Most times I do not know if I am going to be able to finish the race right until this moment. Every other distraction in my life goes away and at this moment I believe I am taken to a view that is out of this World. These feeling do not last and I must come down, yet I hunger and thirst for more.
Possibly some of you, my readers, are like Isabella was at the beginning of the para sail Adventure.
At one time you may have thought about becoming involved but now fear, and doubts have set in, leaving you paralysed. As I look back on my Families example I see an important similarity to my involvement in the lives of these children.
We did not send Isabella on the para sail by herself. We did say trust us, BUT Gloria her Mother went with her. If you have been called to this ministry Jesus will be with you every step of the way, the same as Gloria was with Isabella, the same as God was with Moses.