When I read stories or see newscasts that illustrate just how rampant the problem of DMST is, I feel like someone has socked me in the gut. For an hour or so it’s all I can think about. But I’ll admit that after sobbing at the realization of what children go through, in a matter of hours I go right back to trying to solve my own comparatively small problems. I don’t believe I’m a terrible person who is selfish or without compassion. I don’t truly believe that’s why any of us fail to take action in supporting ministries. But even when we are made aware of the fact that sex trafficking has become an epidemic, it is one more issue that, sadly, can easily become “out of sight out of mind” as we struggle just to handle our own day-to-day challenges. While it’s not something any of us *want* to think about, turning a blind eye to the problem isn’t going to help anyone. And isn’t that what all of us really want to do? I really believe that most of us have hearts that are crying out, “How can I help?” I want to suggest a radical way to attack this problem that maybe you hadn’t thought of:
Pray for the offenders.
I know, I know! Our hearts aren’t with the offenders. Our hearts are furious and passionately, righteously angry at the offenders! Having been a victim of domestic abuse and rape, I can personally attest to the anger that comes with suffering from violence at the hands of a victimizer. I’ve been very angry at my own abuser and my blood boils every time that I read or hear about any instance of abuse. No one can tell me that we don’t have a right to be angry at sin. We do. God is. But in spite of that, Jesus tells us to do something very different with our anger. While God is a just God and He often allows the proper punishment and consequences of sin to come on people, He never tells us to avenge ourselves. What He does tell us is to forgive. He not only commands us to forgive, but also to bless and pray for those who abuse.
Many years ago when separating from my abuser, God spoke to my heart very gently, but firmly. He told me I had to release the anger. He also said that if we’re going to make any difference in the world at all, we can’t just help the victims, we have to pray for the abusers as well. Talk about a difficult command! Praying for my abuser and being good to him was probably the farthest thing from my mind. But there it was. There was no denying it. There’s no denying that it is in the Bible, too, in Jesus’ very own words.
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “ Luke 6:27-28, & 35
I personally feel like this concept is one of the most divisive concepts in Christianity. Some other major religions do promote forgiveness, but I’ve yet to hear of any other one that commands actively being good to your enemies. I love that about my religion, but it’s also one of the most challenging parts of being a Christian. Nothing in the entire Bible causes me to have to stretch and ask for supernatural help from the Holy Spirit more than this command. I don’t think we can do it on our own. Since we have to have help from the Holy Spirit to do it, that probably means it’s one of the most powerful things we can ever do.
What could possibly be the benefit of being good to and praying for the offenders, you might ask. Why bless the people who kidnap and/or sell children? Why pray for the perverted criminals who pay traffickers for sex from enslaved children and destroy lives?
One possibility might be that God could heal and change the hearts of those who are doing the damage, therefore decreasing the instances of sex trafficking crimes. Another possibility is that God could change the desires of the perverted people who seek out such services, thus decreasing demand. A third is the possibility that a changed criminal in this area could turn around to do tremendous good, paying for their crimes by using their knowledge of the situation from having been involved in it. They could help officers and investigators who are fighting this depraved practice.
One changed life can change the atmosphere of the entire world.
One changed life can change the atmosphere of the entire world. Click To Tweet
Those of you familiar with the Bible story about Paul’s conversion can relate to what I’m saying. For those of you who are not familiar, Paul’s name used to be Saul. Before he came to Christ. he was persecuting Christians and even killing them. But once he “saw the light” and came to know the love of Jesus Christ he changed and did a complete 180. God change Saul’s name to Paul because his life change was so dramatic that his name even needed to reflect that. He became the biggest proponents of Christianity at that time and his writings fill up the New Testament. His words continue to bless and encourage Christians in their walk with God still today. One drastically changed life has impacted millions.
Would you join me in committing to praying for the people who are tempted to use and abuse? Let’s pray that hearts are changed and lives are committed to the Lord. No one is beyond God’s power to transform. God has a plan and purpose for every soul on this planet. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see some of the most hardened criminals become the most passionate advocates against sex trafficking?!?
You may think that sounds impossible, but my God is the God of the impossible. (Matthew 19:26)
Don’t stop advocating for the victims. Please do all you can to support ministries like Street Hope that are doing God’s work! But let’s not leave out a crucial component to healing this situation. No sin is too great for the Father to forgive. No life is so far gone that it is beyond being transformed by the Lord. He can change and use any vessel that truly repents and accepts Christ. Let’s pray that He uses all lives to further the kingdom of God.
~Volunteer Contributor, Carla Charity Yount