At the age of 11, Rathana* was sold by her impoverished Cambodian parents to an ice shop owner who beat her and left her malnourished.
Then, Rathana was sold a second time, to a master who held her prisoner and exploited her for eight months. At that time she was miraculously rescued and taken to Transitions Global, an aftercare shelter in Phnom Penh. There, girls liberated from the snares of human trafficking find healing and learn life skills.
SAMS missionary Summer Benton arrived at Transitions Global about the same time. She had heard God’s call to missionary service at the age of 17, but it wasn’t until she began hearing of the plight of the weak and powerless caught in the net of human trafficking that she knew how God wanted her to serve. As a social worker in Boston’s child welfare system, Summer acquired the skills that Transitions Global needed in someone to train Cambodian social workers. As Summer explains, “it takes Cambodians, with their understanding of the language and culture to be effective in the intervention and healing of these brave girls. The best thing I can do is build them up to serve.” When God opened the door, Summer stepped through.
Ministering to these deeply wounded girls is emotionally and spiritually draining. Complicating the task is the fact that there are no “experts’ in aftercare, so Summer and her team develop new approaches together. Summer relies not on her education or experience but trusts the Lord, and it is exciting to see what God is doing through this partnership.
When they first met, Rathana rarely spoke and cried constantly, but now she smiles more and more each day. She attends school and dreams of becoming a chef. God is bringing healing to Rathana and others like her through the work of missionaries like Summer, supported by senders committed to Christ’s mandate to love our neighbor.
*In order to protect her identity a pseudonym is used.
Serving in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, seconded to Transitions Global
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are young children, teenagers, men and women. It is estimated that there are between 12.5 and 27 million people currently enslaved in various forms of bondage. Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked worldwide every year. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. According to INTERPOL, after drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world, and is the fastest growing.
Many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or the commercial sex industry. But trafficking also occurs in forms of labor exploitation, such as domestic servitude, restaurant work, janitorial work, sweatshop factory work and migrant agricultural work. Soldier slavery is another form of bondage, where children are forced to act as human shields, suicide bombers, or as fighting soldiers in conflicts. Yet, even within these other forms of slavery, sexual exploitation typically exists. Traffickers use various techniques to instill fear in victims and to keep them captive. Some traffickers keep their victims physically locked away. However, more frequently, traffickers use less obvious techniques including:
- Debt bondage – financial obligations, honor-bound to satisfy debt
- Isolation from the public – limiting contact with outsiders and making sure that any contact is monitored or superficial in nature
- Isolation from family members and members of their ethnic and religious community
- Confiscation of passports, visas and/or identification documents
- Use or threat of violence toward victims and/or families of victims
- The threat of shaming victims by exposing circumstances to family
- Telling victims they will be imprisoned or deported for immigration violations if they contact authorities
- Control of the victims’ money, e.g., holding their money for “safe-keeping”
In 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) made human trafficking a Federal crime. It was enacted to prevent human trafficking overseas, to protect victims and help them rebuild their lives in the U.S., and to prosecute traffickers of humans under Federal penalties. Prior to 2000, no comprehensive Federal law existed to protect victims of trafficking or to prosecute their traffickers.
Source: Transitions Global
God has given SAMS a vision for healing among the victims of human trafficking. “Rescue the weak and the needy, and deliver them from the hand of the wicked”. SAMS has answered this call by sending missionaries, Guy and Summer Benton.
You can also increase your awareness by checking out this information about Human Trafficking:
How you can help
The first thing you can do is PRAY about your involvement in this ministry. The Lord will show you His will for your involvement in the lives of so many who need to experience His love. You may sign up as prayer partner with the International Justice Mission (who strive to stop human trafficking).
People who have been called to be involved in putting an end to human trafficking globally need prayer and financial support, too. SAMS will help you connect to a missionary who is involved in ministering to victims of human trafficking. Your praying, giving, and practical support will help those who are already ministering or it will help raise up new SAMS missionaries enabling the church to SEND many more laborers for the ripe harvest.
GIVE to help stop human trafficking globally. Create opportunities for raising funds within your church, workplace or neighborhood. Giving toward those who are engaged in this ministry like Guy and Summer Benton can help rescue and redeem lives in Jesus’ name.
GO! There is work to be done regarding stopping human trafficking. If the Lord is calling you to missionary service, we have a place for you. Consider serving as a career missionary or as a Missionary Bridger from a month up to one year. SAMS can connect you in a variety of ways to fulfill God’s calling of you and your church.