As I write this post I am angry. Furious! We arrived home from Peru at 3am this morning, and a few hours later received a call from Mark Shafer one of our Inca Link missionaries in the jungle. He was calling to let us know that he had just rushed a young, pregnant girl we knew to the hospital. She had been severely beaten by her boyfriend, and both she and baby may not live.
I met this girl (let’s call her Vida) on December 27th. I was in the jungle with a small team, doing some last minute construction before the Ninawachi students arrived in January. Marissa Fridley (another Inca Link missionary in Huaticocha) introduced me to Vida. She had run away from her boyfriend and had been told by her sisters and friends that Ninawachi was a safe place to run to.
I talked with Vida about Casa Elizabeth, our home for pregnant teens. I wanted her to come back to Quito and live at Casa Elizabeth. She was understandably scared. I asked her about her parents, her home. She told me she could not live there because her step father had tried to rape her on many occasions, and her mom didn’t want to leave him. She also told me she loved her boyfriend and didn’t want to leave him. “What do you love about him?” I asked. She looked at me with sad brown eyes. Silence. “What does he love about you?” “I don’t know” she replied. “He mocks me and laughs at me all the time. He thinks it’s stupid that I am going to the school that teaches reading. He loves to sneak up behind me and hit me, scare me. He loves to see me afraid. He tells me about his conquests with young girls, especially virgins. He hits me all the time.”
As we talked through the night, it was clear that Vida felt worthless. She saw no value in her own life, or her baby’s life. Marissa took Vida to her room, fixed up a bed for her and accompanied her for the next few days. Slowly she began to trust us and decided to come with us to Casa Elizabeth. Marissa shared the gospel with Vida, and the fact that she was valuable and loved by the creator of everything. She surrendered her life to Christ then and there.
On the day that they were all about to leave for Quito, Vida went looking for her boyfriend. Maybe to get her things, maybe to say goodbye. She called Marissa shortly after and said she would be staying with him. She loved him. We were sad and afraid for Vida, and we prayed for her life and safety.
Today she is in the hospital fighting for her life. Today I am angry that I didn’t fight harder to get Vida to Casa Elizabeth. I’m angry that women all over the world believe that they have no value. I feel helpless and overwhelmed with the task of teaching girls that they are precious.
Today, I am renewing my vow to help these girls. Last year Inca Link helped 2 people get out of the sex trade in Colombia. It’s just a drop in the bucket. This year I want to do more. Today I am calling you all to action. Pray with me for Vida. Pray that she lives. Pray that her baby lives. Pray that we can get her here to Casa Elizabeth as soon as she gets out of the hospital. Pray that we can communicate how deep, how great, how amazing God’s love is for her. Today, I am asking all of us to actively participate in educating girls and boys that they are valuable. Worthlessness has become a terrible illness in our societies. I say societies because I believe this is worldwide problem.
For those of you living in “developed” countries, open your eyes! We are teaching our girls that their value comes from the exterior. We objectify their bodies with a barrage of commercials, propaganda, movies, the slow acceptance of the porn industry, etc. We put immense pressure on what girls and boys look like at a younger and younger age. The Superbowl tomorrow is the biggest human trafficking day in the United States. What can we do about it?
Churches, I call to you too. The Bride of Christ, a light in the world, a refuge for hurting, suffering people. What are you teaching about women and their value in Christ? Review your policies and procedures. Some churches have communicated that women are second class citizens, created as an after thought, incapable of spiritual leadership.
Finally, I ask all of you to consider supporting our Casa Elizabeth ministry. It’s a small project, with only room for 5 girls. We do this on purpose, so that we can create a home atmosphere and really invest in each girl. It’s also a very expensive ministry. We pay for the girls food, housing, education, medical expenses, transportation, special occasions. We pay salaries for 2 full time workers, as well as a psychologist, a social worker and lawyer. We do not determine how long the girls stay with us if they are minors, so we often have the girls stay for 8 months or more. It’s expensive. But today, more than ever, I know that Casa Elizabeth has saved many lives, and continues to save lives. How many more lives are hanging in the balance today?