At church I meet eyes with this girl, she is maybe 12 or 13. She smiles shyly and turns away, but I can't stop looking at her. I've been quite heavy hearted since Friday when I heard a report from a recent YWAM outreach in Benin City, the center of human trafficking in Nigeria.
As I watch this girl something like a film begins to play in my mind's eye.
I see her parents meeting with a pastor to negotiate the details of her going to work abroad.
I see her huddled in the back of an open-roofed truck. It's nighttime and they're driving through an endless desert. She's lethargic from thirst, and her lips are like stretched out raisins. The girl to her left died hours ago, the one to her right won't make it much longer.
I see her at a warehouse near a port in Libya, standing in a line with the few other survivors while older Nigerian ladies—madams—examine her. One of them says, "This one." Now the bottom half of her body belongs to this woman, and no longer to herself.
I see her orientation in a dirty room in some shady neighborhood of a European city. They tell her to dip a round sponge in Dettol and push it inside herself to keep from getting pregnant. They teach her how to make it go fast, so she can serve as many customers per day as possible. One of the older girls claims to have slept with 150 men in a single day, a feat which made her the madam's favorite and spares her from the beatings most of the other girls experience regularly.
I see her family buying a new television, congratulating themselves over their good luck at having a child go to work for them in Europe.
Then I thank God that this girl I'm looking at lives in Jos and not Benin City, and so these images will not be her fate. But how can I rejoice at that when thousands of girls just like her are being trafficked even as I write this? These girls are betrayed by their families who sell them for greed and either don't know or don't care what horrors will befall them abroad. They are betrayed by the church, by poorly educated pastors who preach the worst kind of prosperity gospel and justify selling their parishioners by first praying a blessing over the girls' underwear so that they won't contract HIV. They are betrayed by their government, by officials who line their pockets with the money other nations give to stop human trafficking, by officials who instead of helping the girls who have managed to make it home put them on the 5 o'clock news and call them criminals instead of victims.
I think these things, and in turns I want to groan with outrage and weep with despair.
I feel myself parched and shriveling in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I sense a swell of darkness moving to wash over me, and I know I can't stand up under it. But then I feel something else, a hand lifting me under my arm. I turn and see Jesus, and I remember. I remember who He is, and who I am. In His light, I see light. I see him rising to work justice for the daughters of Nigeria, and I know that things will change. I wonder if I can somehow be a part of it, but then I realize I already am, and I can be part of the solution even now. I can contend for justice in prayer…and so can you.
We are letters from Christ, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.