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The Freedom Mandate

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“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).

God has anointed and appointed the Church of Jesus Christ to bring light into the darkness and to overcome evil with good. This is a crucial function of the Church as we live in a world with darkness like we have never seen before.

Conservative estimates say more than 21 million people are enslaved in the world today, a number far higher than at an any other point in history. The evil of slavery has pervaded all countries and nearly all levels of every society. While captivity might look different in each cultural context, God has proven throughout Scriptures that He hears the cry of all the oppressed. We as His followers must take up the freedom mandate “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (Js. 1:27a).

Unstoppable God

Growing up as a missionary kid with the C&MA, I was exposed to the brokenness and hopelessness so prevalent in our world. But I also saw the hope and transformation the gospel brings to individuals and communities. Svay Pak, Cambodia, is one example.

Children at risk of being trafficked find shelter in AIM's Emergency Family Care Home. (Photo by Josh Blanchard)

Fifteen years ago, this tiny village on the outskirts of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, was known as the child sex trafficking capital of the world. Pedophiles from all over traveled to this town to prey on prepubescent children.

Brothels lined the streets, and the sex industry fueled this town’s entire economy. This village was one of the darkest places on Earth. But Isaiah 14:27 says, “For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” In other words, “All the forces of darkness cannot stop what God has ordained.”

God hears the cry of the oppressed and has called His Church to take up their cause, and that is exactly what is happening in Svay Pak.

Defeat the Devil

In 2008, Agape International Missions (AIM), a nonprofit ministry, planted a church in a former brothel in this town. Since then, the light of Christ has been exploding in the darkness. Spiritual transformation, medical care, dental care, and education have rehabilitated this ravaged community. The C&MA has partnered with AIM’s ministries by sending my wife, Jaclyn, and me to serve the people of this community and to support the organization in its efforts.

We strongly believe the love of Jesus Christ shown through His followers can and will defeat the evil of sex trafficking and sexual slavery. But to adequately push back the darkness of child sex trafficking in Cambodia, there must be four main pillars in the fight: to rescue, restore, and reintegrate survivors and to prevent trafficking.

  • AIM has had incredible favor and success in the last 10 years.
  • Its rescue team has freed 850 survivors in the past four years alone.
  • The Restoration Home has helped more than 700 girls experience freedom, love, and empowerment.
  • AIM’s reintegration initiatives have seen hundreds of survivors return to society, employed in one of our three employment centers, where they receive a sustainable income that instills value in them in the eyes of the community.
  • Through prevention, AIM has built a school that will soon educate more than a thousand elementary students, breaking the cycle and stronghold that still exists in Svay Pak.
  • AIM’s church (Rahab’s House Church) has around 400 regular attendees and has begun sending missionaries to other parts of Cambodia.

Mom to Mom

Jaclyn and I graduated from Nyack (N.Y.) College in 2010. During our time there, God opened our eyes and hearts to the plight of enslaved children. We have given our lives to fighting this injustice in Jesus’ name.

The residents of AIM's Restoration Home get to participate in daily devotions, Bible study, and worship. (Photo by Josh Blanchard)

The Christian and Missionary Alliance, through marketplace ministries, sent us to Cambodia in 2016 specifically to respond to the evil of sex trafficking by partnering with AIM.

Jaclyn has invested relationally with several of the young moms in our Restoration Home. Out of the 60–70 residents, a handful come to us pregnant or with children. These young moms are teenagers who have become pregnant because of abuse they have endured.

These teens didn’t ask to become mothers, yet they’ve chosen to keep their children. The road ahead for them is steep. Jaclyn walks with them through the early stages of pregnancy and motherhood, preparing them for birth as well as teaching them basic skills in mothering.

A coworker brought one young mom to our attention. Before entering our Restoration Home, she gave birth six weeks prematurely to a son. This 15-year-old mom had no support and no family except for younger siblings, and her new baby was struggling for life.

Half a dozen of us spent the next few weeks giving round-the-clock care to the baby at the local hospital as well as support to the young mom. Jaclyn helped teach her to breastfeed, and soon both mom and baby transferred to our Restoration Home.

Jaclyn has continued investing in this young woman. She has come to know Jesus, been baptized, and is now a leader among her peers. Her son is now a year-and-a-half old and is a dear playmate to our son, Elijah.

Transforming Gospel

Over the last two years I have enjoyed using the creative gifts and passions God has given me—photography and videography—to support the work of the gospel of freedom through AIM. I get to raise awareness about this critical issue and tell the story of all God is doing through AIM in Cambodia. I also train young Cambodians in skills that will create immense opportunities for them and will help prevent them from falling prey to the evil of trafficking.

All the teachers at AIM's Community School are locals from Svay Pak who have been trained and educated in AIM's Teacher Training Program. (Photo by Josh Blanchard)

I am building a new program where we hope to hire and train a team of young Cambodians to use media platforms such as radio, TV, social media, and print to prevent trafficking in Cambodia and to preach the gospel.

Within Cambodia, many remote communities are at high risk of sex trafficking. AIM can’t minister to them physically, but thanks to technological advances, we can reach them through the Internet and media. We are excited to expand our prevention efforts throughout Cambodia and beyond.

God is at work, and we are seeing the transforming power of the gospel before our eyes. At the same time, it is a struggle, and the work is not finished. There is a war being waged. We covet your prayers and partnership as we continue to fight the darkness behind enemy lines.

Your faithful prayer and giving to the Great Commission Fund as well as to specific C&MA workers propels the work and equips us to be a part of bringing freedom to the captives, both physically and spiritually.

1 response to The Freedom Mandate

  1. This is an inspiring story. Praise Him for what He is doing to save and change lives.

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