Rhechelle is a 13-year-old girl with a friendly smile whom I met this past June in the Philippines. She is intelligent, mature, and has a bright future ahead of her.
All that, however, was different just three years ago. Rhechelle was born and raised in a dismal slum that was a frequent haunt of drug users and dealers. She lived with her mother in a shack that had one light bulb and no indoor plumbing. Rhechelle was very thin, and she suffered extreme mood swings—filled with rage one moment, withdrawn the next. When asked what she wanted, her reply was, “I want to die.”
Rhechelle was also entering the age when she would become a prime target for sex traffickers. They would often visit her slum looking for unsuspecting girls to recruit through lies about a better life in the big city.
In that same slum, however, is Hope House, a ministry that Heaven’s Family has partnered with to help very needy slum children like Rhechelle. Seeing her vulnerability—and with her mother’s permission—the staff at Hope House took Rhechelle in. She now attends a nearby school where she was honored last year as top student. Her mood swings have disappeared, and she is the picture of health. Since living at Hope House, Rhechelle has given her heart to Jesus, and I was privileged to watch her receive baptism during my visit. Her mother is also a believer now, too, and both are growing in their faith.
Although we all rejoice when we hear of young women being rescued from forced prostitution, prevention is a much better route. Prevention can mean the difference between life and death for a child growing up in poverty.
Through gifts to the Human Trafficking Fund, Heaven’s Family is partnering with several ministries to prevent child trafficking. In Cambodia, for example, we are now sponsoring all 45 children from a rural village. For just $18 a year per child, we are providing preventive education, basic healthcare and, most importantly, the transformational power of the gospel to an entire village. Although education and economic empowerment are keys to prevention, the only true answer to the worldwide scourge of human trafficking is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
One day in heaven we may meet Rhechelle and many others like her who will say, “Thank you for protecting me.”
Because of Him,