Bed Bus to Poipet [Jeff’s 2nd Blog from Cambodia/Philippines]


Bed Bus to Poipet [Jeff’s 2nd Blog from Cambodia/Philippines]

I had never heard of a "bed bus" until I boarded one bound for Poipet, a small city on Cambodia's border with Thailand. After squeezing down an aisle that thin people have to walk sideways to fit through—two tiers of beds down each side—I soon discovered that the bunks were double-occupancy, meaning I had to share the last remaining 3.5-foot-wide by 5-foot-long bunk, all the way in the back of the bus, with another person for the 9-hour ride through the dark, bumpy night.

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Sidewalks in the Sky [Jeff’s 1st Blog from Cambodia/Philippines]

A sign should be posted, I thought, that warns those fearful of heights not to enter. I was walking into a riverfront slum, one in which every home was built on stilts—some very high stilts. Even the sidewalks that weaved through this collision of cobbled-together buildings were built on interconnected stilts that tied everything together in what seemed an uneasy truce with gravity. I didn't want to look down, as it was impossible to avoid seeing the ground far below through the gaping gaps between boards—but if I didn't, a slight misstep might seriously ruin my day!

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Do you know what a Restavek is?

Restavek. It's a word that you've likely never heard. But everyone in Haiti knows what it means. Although derived from two French words (reste avec), that mean "to stay with," the more literal translation of restavek is "child slave." Haiti's restaveks are children who are sent by their deeply-impoverished rural parents to work as live-in domestic servants in the homes of city families who are somewhat better off. There are as many as 300,000 restaveks in Haiti, a reflection of the desperation of hundreds of thousands of parents who can't escape the world's poorest nation.

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Small Girl, Big Faith

Her name means “Small Girl” in her native Khmer language, really? I thought as I looked down on the pint-size girl in front of me. Well, at least it was much easier to pronounce than her real name. I couldn’t help see the irony in the fact that she really was a small girl, even by Cambodian standards. But God, who sees the heart, already knew how big she was on the inside. Small Girl came from a poor family in a poor village. In 2011, out of pressure to pay off her family’s debt, she and her older sister moved to Phnom Penh to find work at a beer garden, where uneducated girls find easy work selling drinks and sex. But Small Girl soon met someone from a ministry called Precious Women, a Heaven’s Family partner, who told her that she didn’t have to work in a beer garden. Small Girl heard the gospel, and also received a scholarship offer for 4 years if she would return home and finish high school, the very thing she wished to do.

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A Home for Jopai

Jopai slept along a street in the slums of Cebu City, the Philippines, each night. Her home consisted of an old tarp draped over a discarded metal frame. She shared that space with her mother and siblings—Joy, her sister, and 2 younger brothers. Her mother did all she could to provide for the 5 of them, but although she worked hard all day cleaning fish, she earned only about a dollar a day—barely enough to buy the rice and soup they needed to survive each day. All else was a luxury they couldn’t afford, including the children’s education.

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Soup, Coffee and Love, Please

The laws of supply and demand govern the price and sale of everyday items like strawberries and gas for our cars. It also governs the sale of human beings who have been trafficked into a worldwide web of evil that reaches into every corner of the world—including our own suburban neighborhoods. Last June I traveled to the small nation of Latvia with my wife, Karin, who co-directs the Human Trafficking/Slavery Fund with me, to visit a lesser-known corner of that insidious web on the coast of the Baltic Sea in Eastern Europe.

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“Our Pimps Want to Kill Us!”

Little Girl for Sale. The message is never quite so blatantly stated, but it is a reality just the same. All around the world, but particularly in developing nations, little girls and boys are up for sale—or available to rent by the hour. Last week I led a short-term team to Mexico City, where we visited missionaries Jason and Nicole (last name withheld for security purposes) whose multi-faceted ministry includes rescuing children from sex trafficking. Mexican children regularly disappear, never to be heard from again, and as I traveled with Jason and Nicole, it became apparent to me why Mexico City is a prime target for traffickers.

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