Young people are full of amazing ideas, talents and strengths. Most young people also have something else: They are still kids! But, sometimes, you meet one who has had his childhood stolen from him. That fun, optimistic, excited person inside has been replaced with a wary, street-smart, weathered, old person. Most young people have eyes that sparkle out a zest for life. But, for some, that sparkle is replaced with the flat eyes of a teen who has seen too much evil.
Parents have to protect their children from predators. This means taking a stand against working in high-risk jobs, where predators prowl. Young people should not work in areas of town where the older men are looking for dates. Why? Because the knowledge of such evil steals the sparkle. It also puts the young people in imminent danger.
Know where your young person is roaming! Predators are skilled at gaining the trust of young people. Once that trust is gained, they can then manipulate the young person through positive attention, gifts, abuse, and threats of violence against other siblings. Predators will say, "If you tell, I'll do the same thing and worse to your little sister."
Relatives, neighbors, and babysitters have the potential of stealing your child's innocence. Develop a level of communication with your child, so you know what is happening. Always be watching.
Young people must protect themselves by avoiding areas where predators prowl. High-traffic tourist areas are dangerous for young people because predators blend in as tourists. Young people tend to trust friendly strangers who they meet in social situations. If possible, avoid bars and boardwalks, if you are not with your family. Being in adult places may make you feel important. But, you are swimming with sharks.
Too good to be true! Watch out for people and opportunities that are too easy or too good. Be content to have only the friendships, money and things that God provides for you. Don't give in to that offer for easy money or easy friendships.
This is especially true online! Only chat with and accept friend requests from people who you know. It is tempting to have lots of Facebook friends and talk to friendly people online. Some of them will be predators.
Listen to God
Memorize these Truths:
1. I am a child of God and am loved by my Father.
2. I am a special gift and my body is meant only for my future spouse.
3. I am a child of light and I don't belong in dark places.
4. I obey my parents unless they ask me to disobey God or be unsafe.
5. I listen to my parents, pastors, and teachers.
6. If something feels strange, I tell a trusted adult.
Be watchful for children who are in unsafe environments. Keep an eye out for adults who are grooming young people. Be an advocate for children who are being sexually abused by a relative. Often, these situations are hushed up by the family. It's the responsibility of every person to look out for the youth in the community. Be alert. If you see something strange, ask other trusted adults to help you find out what is going on. Don't just ignore it or think that someone else will take care of it. Importantly, get some training on what to look for and how to react! Is there something you can do proactively in your community to prevent abuse and trafficking? Ask your pastor about this.
#1: Don't ignore.
#2: Be wise in how you react.
#3: Involve other trusted adults.
It is estimated that 100,000 children under 18 of age are trafficked into the sex business yearly in the Philippines, according to Unicef.
According to the United States government, 600,000 to 800,00 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children.
Extreme poverty and extreme choices. If you aren't from a majority world country, you might not understand extreme poverty. I'll give you an example from the community where I live. In Puerto Galera, an under-aged girl can work a 12-hour shift at a bar and get paid $6 (USD). The price for prostitution in Puerto Galera is $60. To a young person, $6/day seems like good money. But, the traffickers are looking to make $60 multiple times. Evil is sick. God hates trafficking. Let's do everything we can to prevent it.
Threads of Hope ministers to prevent poverty-driven extreme choices in the Aninuan community. We are providing opportunities for livelihood entrepreneurship, education, discipleship, recreation, and accountability. We all have a part to play in protecting youth from exploitation and trafficking. Thank you for what you are doing to protect and proactively provide for the youth in your community. Be brave, Be wise, Be vigilant.
Wanted: Normal, everyday Christ followers.
Needed: Mature Christians who care about others and are willing to risk it all for Jesus.
Job Description: Move into a community and be yourself. Be a living, daily example of a mature Christian, helping others by using your skills. Invite your new friends over for dinner and live beside them. Help out at the local church and do ordinary things to help extraordinary people. Live humbly and visibly in the midst of the community, showing and sharing the gospel of Jesus. Mostly, you just need to be willing and available to lend a hand.
Location: If you respond to this call, you'll get notice of the location. Jesus has a specific location already picked out for you. Start by looking at where the Holy Spirit is working. Where are there so many people interested in the the Bible that there are not enough mature Christians to befriend, mentor or disciple them?
Warning: You'll experience great joy and significant job satisfaction. And, you will be targeted for spiritual and physical attack by the enemy. You'll experience trials, sickness, and learn deep dependence on God. You'll laugh and cry with your new friends.
Rewards: If you give up your life for Jesus' sake, He will give you all of it and more in return. Most who answer this call find that giving up their lives is a daily continuum, resulting in great joy.
Expiration Date: Time is ticking. This is a limited-time call.
It was our first date in quite a while, and we went to our favorite pizza place over on the beach. We were having a good time talking and eating, when an elderly man from North Carolina stopped by our table to ask about the pizza. We chatted for a few minutes and then he rejoined his party, which was seated next to our table. I couldn't help but notice that he was seated with a Filipino mother about 20 years younger than him, two 20-something kids and an elementary age girl. This man had flown from North Carolina to spend a couple of weeks with the 20-something daughter. Her mother, brother, and the little girl were along for a vacation, as well.
Living here in the Philippines, we see old white men with young girlfriends or prostitutes daily. I never get used to it, but I think that I try to ignore it. Taking the family to town for groceries the other day, I swerved the van to avoid an gaunt old Caucasian man with long grey hair on a motorbike. He was stopped in the road and a prostitute was hopping onto the back of his bike. Outside of the grocery store, another elderly Westerner strode by with his arm around a young Filipino man. Sex is not free, but it is cheap. That's why it is so shameful. Sex was never meant to be cheapened by lust or money.
The sexual relationship is sacred, meant to be shared by a man and a woman within God's covenant of marriage. Marriage is a sacred picture of the relationship that Jesus Christ has with the church. It's a pure love, not to be shared with others for money, lust, or power.
But, let's get back to Matt from North Carolina and my date night with Gina. As we got ready to leave the pizza place, Matt came over to talk. He was telling me about his multiple trips to the Philippines. About his room rate and his stay with the girl from Laguna and her mother... etc. Then, he mentioned something that seemed unusual. He said that he had sat next to some missionaries on the airplane. That they help children living on trash dumps. They have bracelets with different colors about hope, he said. Well, Matt had me at hope! I pulled out a gospel bracelet from Threads of Hope and said, "I have a Threads of Hope bracelet right here that I'll give you." He eagerly stretched out his left wrist. I hesitated for a second and then tied it onto his wrist. "Did I have the courage to tell him the gospel?" I asked myself. But...That's why we're here! So, I pointed at each color on his wrist and said, "God is holy. We have sinned and are spiritually dead. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He gives us new life. And, to grow in Christ each day, we read our Bible and pray."
As I drove my sweet wife home, I thought about Matt. A really old foreign guy with a hard-faced young lady. Two people missing the point of sex, marriage, and life. Life is about a real, daily relationship with Jesus Christ. Life is about living out the plans that He has for you: Being part of a marvelous relationship, a world-wide relationship called the Bride of Christ.
That's why we're missionaries here: To bring the hope of forgiveness, acceptance, and real life through Jesus Christ to the children, families, and adults in a little beach town called Puerto Galera.
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.