No, I’m not pre-empting the Academy Awards! I’m part of the blogging crew at The Exodus Road, and I’m committed to posting monthly on their amazing work, mostly in South East Asia, fighting modern-day slavery through covert investigations. A few weeks ago, I blogged for the first time for The Exodus Road blog on the difficult work undertaken by human trafficking investigators.
Earlier this month, I wrote about hidden work and how God grows us up as we submit to it and let Him do His awesome work in and through us. Today, I’d like to highlight two men doing important hidden work in the fight against human trafficking, with life-changing results. They won’t be hearing “the award goes to…” on Sunday night, and they aren’t nominated for any awards, but their work is worthy of far more than a gold statue.
James Varghese (left) of Indian Rescue Mission and Matt Parker (right) of The Exodus Road
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” – Isaiah 58:6
James Varghese is the founder of Indian Rescue Mission (IRM), an organization formed in 2009 and dedicated to eliminating child sex trafficking in his country. UNICEF reports that of the millions of people trafficked globally, an estimated 22–50 percent are children. Some studies show that most trafficked underage women are used in the sex industry.
James and his team are now part of The Exodus Road coalition. They are right now involved in the 7/40 Project, aimed at busting seven brothels housing 40 trafficking victims. Several victims are underage girls being sold as virgins.
So far, IRM has been able to rescue more than 200 women and children from brothels in India. The IRM team is small (three investigators, a social worker, and support staff), but their courage and perseverance in the face of immense odds are truly praiseworthy.
You can follow James and IRM on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/james.i.mission, encourage him and his team, and donate to their ongoing work in India.
In this audio clip, James describes how he segued from working as a journalist to becoming a crusader for victims of sexual slavery.
Matt Parker is the Executive Director of The Exodus Road and a former youth pastor. He describes the back story to The Exodus Road in this video along with his wife, Laura Parker, who is the Director of Communications for The Exodus Road.
Matt’s faith in God’s redemptive power, even in the horrors of human trafficking, is encouraging and instructive. In this excerpt from a post on Laura’s blog, he shares how deeply his work as an undercover trafficking investigator has affected him.
Victims of human trafficking are not lost forever, unless the very last one of us gives up.
And till the day they are free, I choose to hope and set my eyes on the horizon. There I see freedom coming– freedom for victims of human trafficking and freedom for me as I seek it for them. Freedom is the very aroma of God and love is his firm step. I have never known joy as I know it today, as I too take up the smell and step of God. Justice is the mix of these two elements, freedom and love. When both are present, the Kingdom of God is realized.
Last night I witnessed the slavery of over two hundred women. On my left sat a young virgin and on my right a young girl maybe twenty years old. Both for sale. All for sale. And I wanted this justice fueled by love for them so very badly.
This work that we are doing is a powerful thing in my own life. It stretches beyond my comfort, calls me to be courageous in the face of fear, costs me greatly and has shown me the face of God in ways that have surprised me.
Many people claim to know God. If the work of rescue has taught me anything, it is that I know very little about God and am a fool to claim that I do. I now believe that he is so much bigger than I will ever comprehend and his love, justice and mercy are equally unfathomable.
This is a big story, after all, that we are living. A story of impossible odds, brokenness and courage, passion and justice. It is the best story I have ever read, and I still do not know how it will end.
I am forever changed, and we are only at the beginning.
-Matt Parker. Executive Director, The Exodus Road. Jan. 2013