A CHC member with a burden for trafficked children travels to Cambodia to take action. She tells City News her story.
Contributed by Lim Shiyun
A year ago, I watched a documentary on child trafficking. Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines are some of the countries where young children and even infants are being sold. An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide for prostitution, pornography or cheap labor. (Source: UNICEF, 2007.)
In Southeast Asia, one of the trafficking hubs is the Greater Mekong sub-region, with Thailand being the main destination. Boys and girls trafficked to Thai cities come from Cambodia, China (the Yunnan Province), Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam, as well as from ethnic minority groups living in northern Thailand. Trafficking of Vietnamese boys and girls for sexual exploitation to Cambodia has also emerged as a huge problem. (Source: Chab Dai Coalition, At What Price, Honour? Research into domestic trafficking of Vietnamese (girl) children for sexual exploitation, from slums in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2006.)
Through this documentary, God put a burden in my heart to help in some way. I researched the various organizations that focus on fighting child-trafficking and that’s when I chanced upon preacher John Bevere’s website, Pearl Alliance. Pearl Alliance currently partners with Christian organizations such as In His Steps International to assist in this cause. I decided to act upon this burden in my heart, and contacted IHSI to volunteer at their shelter home in Phnom Penh.
WHERE TWO OR THREE GATHER
Two of my cell group members from N433 in City Harvest Church, Young Ying and Francesca Chew, shared the same burden and decided to join me. Young, a sales manager, and Chew, a homemaker, are a married couple in their 40s and they have two children. Young has an interest in social enterprise while Francesca has a gift for cooking and the arts. I am a marketing manager in my late 20s.
Our trip took four days and three nights, from Jan. 9 to 12. On the first morning, we met Eric Hanson, founder of IHSI and a missionary from America; his wife, Ginny Hanson and Jacob Godlin, a full-time staff. The Hansons have been serving in Cambodia for 12 years. They interviewed us thoroughly as they wanted to understand how God gave us a calling to help with their mission, and also to ascertain that we were the right partners to work with. We were all prayerful and sought God’s direction on how we could work with one another.
Eric and Ginny’s work is Christ-centered. Not only do they rescue the women and children, they also equip them through education, the Word of God, and practical work skills so they can be an asset to society. Spiritual discipline is emphasized: each day starts with prayer and devotion. There are meetings every Tuesday mornings with Eric leading praise and worship and sharing the Word.
Ginny, a former businesswoman, has used her experience to start a social enterprise known as Sak Saum (which means “dignity”). The girls sew self-designed bags and make accessories by hand. They have enjoyed much success with Sak Saum, selling their products mostly in U.S. Their designs have also been featured in magazines and fashion shows.
Currently, IHSI has 13 rescued girls in the home, working and living together. The profits from the business are used to pay the girls’ salary and to expand the business. Ginny emphasizes a lot on work excellence and product differentiation. The girls are able to save up money and buy health insurance for themselves and their families for the first time in their lives. Even more impressive is the fact that they are able to buy land to build their own home.
One of the first investments IHSI made was to give an aspiring tailor a sewing machine and training. Over the years his sewing skills have improved so much, he is now a much sought-after tailor in Phnom Penh.
Apart from rehabilitating rescued children, there is another part of the ministry called Father’s House, where at-risk children receive extra tuition and have a safe environment to play and interact. The children were so hungry for knowledge—we had never seen such enthusiasm for after-school tuition.
WATCHING GOD”S WORD IN ACTION
We were greatly humbled by the Hansons’ faith and obedience towards God’s calling. They faced great obstacles and heartaches along the way but never gave up. Despite the lack of spiritual resources such as that which we have in Singapore, they have such a close walk with the Holy Spirit! In the midst of great corruption in Cambodia, they refuse to bow down to pressure and choose to do things righteously, and not take the easy way out. God has in turn honored them and given them extraordinary favor with the Cambodian government.
After this experience, I believe that more Christians need to step out and bring God’s light into the world. We are often “fattened” in church without freely giving what God has given us. As it’s written in Isaiah 59:15-16: “The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so His own arm worked salvation for Him.”
In His Steps International, formed in 2004, is passionate about transforming lives spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. To the hungry, they offer life. To the forgotten, they provide purpose. To the outcast, they introduce dignity. To the desperate, they bring hope.
IHSI stands on the word of 1 Peter 2:21 “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.”
IHSI currently works in Cambodia, but it has a vision to raise up and empower leaders from around the world for Kingdom purposes.
For more information, log on to www.ihsionline.org.
How You Can Help
Urgent needs of the IHSI include:
• Books (educational, Christian, encyclopedias etc) for children aged 0-12
• Educational / Christian CDs, VCDs, DVDs
• Old functioning laptops / PDAs
To make a donation or help, contact Lim Shiyun at +65 9070 3144 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.