Eugene Cho

be very angry about slavery

photo by Nicholas Kristof of NY Times

First of all, Happy New Year.  I intended to put together a nice, happy, and joyful family letter but haven’t gotten around to it – and may not until 2010.  Who knows?  But as we embark on a new year, I want to personally commit myself to a deeper walk and work in Christ and in that process, not only be more hopeful, prayerful, grateful but also commit myself to a deeper anger.   Yes, you read that correctly.  

I personally think Christians don’t get angry enough at the grave examples of evil, injustice, and suffering around the world.  We see, observe, discuss – but mostly at a distance – a safe distance.  While my actions may be limited, I want to see the evil, injustice, and pain around me to impact me deep inside so that the Holy Spirit may use it to transform me and by His grace and power, compel me to be an agent of Hope, Grace, Faith, and Love.  

I have a postcard of Martin Luther King Jr. on my desk and it reads the following:

When evil men plot, good men must plan.  when evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind.  When evil men should ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.  Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.”

Tonight, I read another article by Nicholas D. Kristof in the New York Times entitled, If This Isn’t Slavery, What is?  Stunning and f**k*n’ sickening to consider that some sources cite as high as 27 million slaves around the world. In the sex trade industry, 80% are women and over half are minors – aka: children and teenagers.  Sorry for cussing but I’m angry. Very angry.

Please read the article below and check out some of these orgs that are engaging the work:
 

  • Break the Chains an initiative of the Evangelical Covenant Church [denomination I am part of].
  • The Sold Project – Focused on fighting and stopping child prostitution.  They’ll be visiting Quest in February.
  • Free the Slaves (Free the Slaves liberates slaves around the world, helps them rebuild their lives and researches real world solutions to eradicate slavery forever.)
  • International Justice Mission (Legal Advocates for Justice Around the World)
  • JustOne (Foundation for Relief & Development on Issues of Poverty, Orphans, and Human Trafficking)
  • Stop the Traffik (Abolitionists Coalition of Over 900 Organizations)
  • Not For Sale – Campaign to End Slavery
  • Love 146 – Love146 works toward the abolition of child sex trafficking and exploitation through aftercare, prevention and advocacy.
  • Call and Response:  Film and Action
  •  
    Here’s the article:

    Barack Obama’s presidency marks a triumph over the legacy of slavery, so it would be particularly meaningful if he led a new abolitionist movement against 21st-century slavery — like the trafficking of girls into brothels.

    Anyone who thinks it is hyperbole to describe sex trafficking as slavery should look at the maimed face of a teenage girl, Long Pross.

    Glance at Pross from her left, and she looks like a normal, fun-loving girl, with a pretty face and a joyous smile. Then move around, and you see where her brothel owner gouged out her right eye.

    Yes, I know it’s hard to read this. But it’s infinitely more painful for Pross to recount the humiliations she suffered, yet she summoned the strength to do so — and to appear in a video posted online with this column — because she wants people to understand how brutal sex trafficking can be.

    Pross was 13 and hadn’t even had her first period when a young woman kidnapped her and sold her to a brothel in Phnom Penh. The brothel owner, a woman as is typical, beat Pross and tortured her with electric current until finally the girl acquiesced.

    She was kept locked deep inside the brothel, her hands tied behind her back at all times except when with customers.

    Brothel owners can charge large sums for sex with a virgin, and like many girls, Pross was painfully stitched up so she could be resold as a virgin. In all, the brothel owner sold her virginity four times.

    Pross paid savagely each time she let a potential customer slip away after looking her over.

    “I was beaten every day, sometimes two or three times a day,” she said, adding that she was sometimes also subjected to electric shocks twice in the same day.

    The business model of forced prostitution is remarkably similar from Pakistan to Vietnam — and, sometimes, in the United States as well. Pimps use violence, humiliation and narcotics to shatter girls’ self-esteem and terrorize them into unquestioning, instantaneous obedience.

    One girl working with Pross was beaten to death after she tried to escape. The brothels figure that occasional losses to torture are more than made up by the increased productivity of the remaining inventory.

    After my last column, I heard from skeptical readers doubting that conditions are truly so abusive. It’s true that prostitutes work voluntarily in many brothels in Cambodia and elsewhere. But there are also many brothels where teenage girls are slave laborers.

    Young girls and foreigners without legal papers are particularly vulnerable. In Thailand’s brothels, for example, Thai girls usually work voluntarily, while Burmese and Cambodian girls are regularly imprisoned. The career trajectory is often for a girl in her early teens to be trafficked into prostitution by force, but eventually to resign herself and stay in the brothel even when she is given the freedom to leave. In my blog, http://www.nytimes.com/ontheground, I respond to the skeptics and offer some ideas for readers who want to help.

    Pross herself was never paid, and she had no right to insist on condoms (she has not yet been tested for HIV, because the results might be too much for her fragile emotional state). Twice she became pregnant and was subjected to crude abortions.

    The second abortion left Pross in great pain, and she pleaded with her owner for time to recuperate. “I was begging, hanging on to her feet, and asking for rest,” Pross remembered. “She got mad.”

    That’s when the woman gouged out Pross’s right eye with a piece of metal. At that point in telling her story, Pross broke down and we had to suspend the interview.

    Pross’s eye grew infected and monstrous, spraying blood and pus on customers, she later recounted. The owner discarded her, and she is now recuperating with the help of Sina Vann, the young woman I wrote about in my last column.

    Sina was herself rescued by Somaly Mam, a trafficking survivor who started the Somaly Mam Foundation in Cambodia to fight sexual slavery. The foundation is working with Dr. Jim Gollogly of the Children’s Surgical Center in Cambodia to get Pross a glass eye.

    “A year from now, she should look pretty good,” said Dr. Gollogly, who is providing her with free medical care.

    So Somaly saved Sina, and now Sina is saving Pross. Someday, perhaps Pross will help another survivor, if the rest of us can help sustain them.

    The Obama administration will have a new tool to fight traffickers: the Wilberforce Act, just passed by Congress, which strengthens sanctions on countries that wink at sex slavery. Much will depend on whether Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton see trafficking as a priority.

    There would be powerful symbolism in an African-American president reminding the world that the war on slavery isn’t yet over, and helping lead the 21st-century abolitionist movement.

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    32 Responses

    1. kevin says:

      I think this is an important perspective going into a new year. Thanks for sharing. We do need more of a righteous anger and to “rebel against our own indifference,” as Bono said.

    2. Jeff says:

      “…its not enough just to rage against the lie. you’ve got to replace it with the truth.” – bono.

    3. minnowspeaks says:

      I can hardly write for the tears. Thank you.

    4. jason says:

      I agree and am angry about this issue as well…thanks for sharing

    5. Channing says:

      Eugene,
      My in-laws run a home for children rescued from these brothels in the Phillipines. They have partnered with IJM (Internation Justice Mission) to rescue, counsel, and educate. Unfortunately, these stories are not uncommon.

      http://www.hhcr.org

    6. Nicole says:

      wow this just makes me sick. thank you for posting different organizations that are currently working on the issue so I can get more involved.

    7. Cyra says:

      Thank you for posting this. Lately, I’ve been finding myself becoming more and more angry over injustices in the world (as you might guess from my own postings about Gaza), and I’ve been praying for God to show me what I should be doing about it.

    8. Kim김 says:

      I’d like to suggest one other org. called Polaris Project. I don’t think too many people think about the sex trade industry when thinking of modern day injustices. It’s for sure something that needs to be dealt with. It breaks my heart when I hear of children used in this depraved way.

    9. matt says:

      This is a group who works both with people who have been trafficked as well as orphans and refugees. http://www.crossingbordersnk.org

      I attended a seminar by them recently that focused on sex trafficking and posted some of the things I learned at the seminar here: http://swainlife.blogspot.com/2008/09/human-trafficking.html

      Thanks for highlighting this!

    10. Rachel says:

      It’d be nicer if we could just ignore this fact of life. But thank you for writing about it and posting info on the organizations that are fighting it.

    11. Dk says:

      Here’s to the upcoming year of a deeper anger that changes us and gives us a glimpse of God’s heart.

    12. Deneen says:

      I have to agree with you…Christians need to be angered into action aobut social issues. There was a time when I didn’t think it was the church’s responsibility, but I believe the Holy Spirit convicted me of that.

      Thank you for this call to action.

      Happy New Year, by the way!

    13. steph c says:

      Thank you for posting on this, Pastor Eugene. I read Kristoff’s first op ed on this on the 31st and was reminded of what the Lord calls us to do and be, esp. as we start this new year. Please keep blogging about this. It is a harsh reality but ewe can’t turn a blind eye.
      Another group which deals with anti-slavery issues and freeing slaves (not particular to sex slaves) is iAbolish.org . I know Simon Deng, one of their spokesmen and a former slave from Sudan who has returned to free other slaves.

    14. amen, Eugene. Thanks for calling this mess like it is. it is overwhelming and infuriating to try to comprehend. lauren has been working to start a non-profit to combat this very issue. For her and for the rest of us who follow Christ- may our anger drive us to take action.

    15. daphne says:

      Thanks for providing resources for us to check out and find a way to help.

    16. mrs p says:

      World Vision works against the sex trade as well. They are key in putting up billboards, in English, in other countries that remind American businessmen that they will be prosecuted in their home country for what they are doing abroad.

    17. Matthew says:

      Eugene,

      Thank you for pointing out that anger can be a powerful and useful motivator, though I would use a stronger word for it: outrage. I will make sure to visit some of these websites, and a couple of the local organisations that Kristof mentioned in his blog (www.somaly.org and http://www.apneaap.org), to see how I can best serve this cause.

      The typical response to this kind of tragedy is sadness, but you are right to point out that sex slavery isn’t just sad. Sex slavery is an outrage.

      Amen to this post, and happy new year,
      Matthew

    18. I also would suggest Break the Chains, http://www.covchurch.org/humantrafficking, an initiative of the Department of Women Ministries for the Evangelical Covenant Church. In less than a year, the initiative has raised more than $200,000, which is to be divided between IJM mentioned above and the Hindustani Covenant Church (HCC). Gary Haugen, IJM president and CEO, will speak at our national pastors conference in early February.

      Every department of the Evangelical Covenant Church is providing materials related to this topic for churches to use. January 11 is the national Human Trafficking Awareness Day established by Congress, and the ECC site also has resources that churches can use in connection with that day.

    19. Sara says:

      For a local organization active in the fight against human trafficking, and a victim shelter in Washington, visit this web site:

      http://www.troniefoundation.org

    20. blackwasp19 says:

      Sara, thank you for your words. This touches on a serious concern of mine,

      We need to not only be angry we must act. Anger is a emotion, emotions illicit actions. I think we often “chat” about social justice issues because American Christians often remove ourselves from issues and problems. Slavery is a problem in the U.S. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28161210/). Though it is to a different degree and somewhat of a different nature it is just as vile.

      Instead of talking about international issues and dealing with them as a distance we need to be active in domestic issues. Most American Christians won’t move to Thailand, Singapore or any other country, but they can find the injustice in their town, suburb or city and be the light of Christ.

    21. eugenecho says:

      @blackwasp19: very good point.

      another thing to consider from a recent seattle newspaper:


      Sophisticated criminals are smuggling thousands of people from around the world into Washington — from Canada, through Sea-Tac Airport and through the Port of Seattle.

      Federal and local officials believe that many of them are victims of human trafficking — working in sweatshops, massage parlors, restaurants and farms here and elsewhere. But because many local law-enforcement agencies have no idea how to identify trafficking victims, very few of them have been found. So the federal government plans to launch an Anti-Trafficking Task Force here in the fall to improve enforcement efforts.

      Federal experts believe Seattle’s many points of entry make the city one of the nation’s top human-trafficking hot spots. The task force will be one of 10 in the country. Currently Tampa, Fla., Philadelphia, Phoenix and Atlanta have federal trafficking task forces. Newark, N.J., will launch one at the end of the summer, and Seattle and Portland will both launch in the fall. Three more are planned after that.

    22. […] million slaves.  Still…in 2009?  Crap.  And stories of children as sex slaves?  Outrageous, disgusting, hideous, and […]

    23. i find myself often very angry about slavery!

      i have a friend whose mom started a ministry in Thailand. They purchase girls being sold into slavery, house them, then train them and assist them in finding meaningful work.

      EP

    24. Here’s a bit of good news: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/stephanie-girls-india-2273910-wendy-on

      India street kids get education
      http://www.covchurch.org/cov/news/item5397

      It’s hard for me to have hope sometimes when it always seems like a “bit” of good news, but I have to remember Jesus traveled over only a “bit” of the world during his brief stay.

    25. J. P. says:

      Kristof on the radio: Tune in to @WNYC at 8 PM ET for a discussion re 21st-Century Slavery w/ @NYTimesKristof or listen here: http://bit.ly/OnPoint_slavery (via http://twitter.com/NYTimesComm)

    26. Thank you Eugene. Unless we are seriously pissed off about this nothing will change.

      To add to the list of things we can do –

      – encourage lawmakers to stop punishing prostitutes and illegal immigrants. most trafficked people in the US are afraid to speak up or escape because they fear the government – with good cause.

      – Stop buying porn. Statistically a majority of the people who read this site do. Stop encouraging a system that objectifies women and feeds the idea that they can just be used for men’s pleasure.

      – encourage feminism. Many of the girls sold into sex slavery are the unwanted girls of families in cultures that value males. Selling them is easier on the family that feeding an unwanted mouth. If women were seen as equals everywhere, less men would use them as mere objects.

      – Buy only fairly traded clothing and food. Slavery exists in sweatshops and farms. Recently the U.S. government has rounded up slaves in New York clothing factories, Flordia tomato farms, and among clean up crews in new Orleans. Tell companies with your dollar that you only support practices where employees are treated and paid fairly – and allowed to be a free human being.

      – support microloans and charity for education. desperation and lack of education create the conditions for slavery to thrive. those conditions must change if slavery is to end.

      and I can think of quite a few more, put they’re political which most people don’t want to hear. but the truth is if we know about this stuff and aren’t doing crap – we are complicit in supporting slavery.

    27. Here is a Key statement….”Great men must seek to bring into order justice and love, therefore, being reality driven, and not falsifying the realness of them. By the grace of God ,and His loving Holy Spirit, these sorts of “men” have their “Gifts” to untilize to the fullest……a choice of course…and prayerful watching being observed…Great men are far and few between, but some do exist!!! love Rahab Great Post!! thanks

    28. Kevin Morrow says:

      The child labor/ sex slavery issue is definitely a point of anger. The bad voice in my head is fighting to come out; maybe some “old testament” action should be taken against those that profit from these activities. I know we’re supposed to love our enemies, but…

      Separately, the idea that slavery and trafficking occur in the Seattle area is consistent with the history of the City. I learned through spiritual mapping studies that many native americans were forced into sex slavery in the early years of Seattle’s history. Please pray against the spirit of slavery in Seattle.

    29. This is a great initiative. I’m supporting STOP THE TRAFFIK through my blog (kiwimillionaire dot com) and raising funds at http://www.justgiving.com/ryankilfoil. Together we can all do more. Thanks for your support and words.

    30. […] articles I want to share with you.  The first is a recent article from the NY Times/blogpost Anyone who thinks it is hyperbole to describe sex trafficking as slavery should look at the maimed […]

    31. […] be very angry about slavery […]

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    One Day’s Wages

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    As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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