Tremendous need often brings people together to find a solution. It’s no different when you look at the trafficking situation in the Dominican Republic. Family Christian Stores recognized the need and contacted someone who had the means to begin confronting the sex trade. Their partnership is expanding Destiny Rescue’s 14-year ministry into Central America.
Destiny Rescue, an internationally recognized, Australian-based organization, has been working in Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, Cambodia, India, Laos, and the Philippines. They rescue children who are forced and trapped in the sex trade. Since 2011, they’ve rescued over 1,200 children.
Peter Everett of Destiny Rescue explains what they do.
They begin by sending in undercover agents and workers to identify victims of the sex trade. Depending on the number of cases identified in a single operation, they then do one of two things after identification.
In some cases they do what’s called a soft rescue where they contact individuals, get them away from immediate danger, and offer to rescue them. Then, they pray with the victims and hope they will accept the offer. “They’re really broken down to a point where they don’t trust anybody, so it’s very difficult, in some cases, to get these girls out,” Everett says.
By getting the girl or boy alone with their team, Destiny Rescue provides an opportunity for the mentality of hopelessness to be broken. Once out of sex slavery, the children are taken to a safe house where they meet with counselors, social workers, and case workers as well as the house parents.
The next step is to engage patiently in the painful process of healing. The workers do what they can to love the victims and provide for their emotional and spiritual needs. Eventually, the victims will start vocational training, to help the victims be able to support themselves. Some areas of training include cosmetology, working in cafes, jewelry making, sewing, even screen-printing. Destiny helps with job placement, as well.
Destiny doesn’t just want to take them out of their situation; to end it there leaves the victims at a high risk of going back to that lifestyle again. They want to give the victims of sex slavery the ability to stand strong financially and emotionally once they are old enough to be out on their own. It’s all part of a holistic approach. Everett says it consists of rescue, restoration, and reintegration. The underlying strength of their organization is that these girls and boys are introduced to Jesus. “We really trust in God to come down and do healing–to see miracles in their lives. And we do: we see it all the time, and it’s so encouraging,” says Everett.
Each morning the children have Bible studies and prayer meetings. Once a month they also have worship sessions. The girls are connected with local churches whose pastors come in during the week to talk and meet with the children.
Assyrian church leaders are reporting that ISIS has rejected a ransom offer for the 230 Assyrians it captured on 23 Feb in the Hasaka province of Syria.
According to a story by the Assyrian International News Agency, 253 Assyrians were captured in the initial attacks on the 35 Assyrian villages on the Khabur river. Twenty three were subsequently released, but 230 remain in captivity, including 52 children, 84 females and 95 males.
ISIS has demanded 100,000 US dollars for each hostage, for a total of 23 million.
Leading the negotiations with ISIS is Bishop Mellis of Australia. AINA reported that in an interview with SBS Radio in Australia, Mellis said “We are a poor nation. These people have not done anything wrong and won't harm anyone. We as Assyrians do not have this amount of money you are asking for.” Mellis said a settlement offer was made for an undisclosed amount. “With the amount we offered, we thought it was acceptable, to have the return of the 230 people. After two days, they (ISIS) told us, ‘The amount the church offered was not acceptable. From now on, we will no longer negotiate with you.”
The hostages have been moved to Raqqa, the ISIS stronghold in Syria, and are now awaiting trial in Islamic court under Sharia law, where a Muslim judge will decide their fate.
AINA said that desperate church leaders have pleaded for assistance neighboring countries, including Turkey, in securing the release of the Assyrian hostages.
Victoria's Assyrian community came together at a Candlelight Vigil, in solidarity with the 200,000 displaced Assyrians in Northern Iraq and the 230 Assyrian hostages held by the Islamic State in north-eastern Syria.
The event was held at Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne's Central Business District, and drew a large crowd of supporters.
AINA said the event was attended by representatives of a wide number of Assyrian churches and organizations, as well as members of Victoria's Greek, Armenian, Coptic, Kurdish and Alevi communities.
– Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, http://www.joyjunction.org.
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