Friday, 20 February 2015

Not for sale

So I have wanted to write a post for a while now specific to human trafficking and the sex industry but I just didn't know what to say. Honestly I still don't. What am I supposed to say about the fact that girls are treated like merchandise in sex auctions in Eastern Europe? What am I supposed to you about the girls in Cambodia that are destined to be sold from birth, simply because they are female? And what am I supposed to you about the fact that in Nevada there are legal and working brothels exploiting girls daily? This world is a crazy, messed up, broken place. Honestly I can't even fathom that this is going on. So many of us just choose to live in our own personal bubble and block out all the injustice that is going on around us. It's easier to just pretend everything is okay, because everything is okay for me, right? It makes me sick to my stomach to think that there was a time I had no idea that human trafficking was even a problem. So, because of that I know it's my job to educate as many people as I can about this issue, because  as William Wilberforce said “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” Today we watched the documentary "Nefarious: Merchant of Souls." I would highly suggest watching it if you would like a slap in the face of reality, because within the first few minutes your heart is broken into pieces by hearing the horrors of being a trafficked woman in Eastern Europe. Before I get into some really intense moments of this documentary I just want to let you all know that this subject is very heavy and hard to swallow, it will break your heart, but it should. You can't spend your entire life living in your little safe haven, you can't ignore reality. But I would like to for warn you that it is a heavy subject, and I am not really into watering down what is a shameful reality for us as a human race. In this documentary you get to experience and see the true reality of human trafficking in Moldova, Thailand, Cambodia, Las Vegas, and Amsterdam. I will start by talking about Amsterdam, and first you need to know that prostitution is legal in Amsterdam. There are legal brothels lining the red light district, and those brothels are plastered with women displaying their bodies in showcases waiting for a customer to come and buy their services. Another thing you need to know is that the majority of women that work at these "sex shops" are not Dutch locals, they are women which have been trafficked most likely against their will from Eastern Europe like Moldova, or the Ukraine. Once a girl is chosen she will then be taken into a room where the man has free reign to do as he wishes to her for his own pleasure. In those rooms the men are completely unsupervised, and many of the women will experience physical violence or abuse because they are only there for the pleasure of men. I don't know about you, but last time I checked women were not objects you can sell in a store window. Next I will talk about Moldova, as well as the general area of Easter Europe. I never realized the full extent of the sex industry in Eastern Europe, and honestly it is horrifying. Generally what will happen is a pimp will either get romantically involved with a girl, or promise her a job somewhere else (as due to current economic situations jobs are very limited) as a waitress, or a retail worker. Once the girl either agrees to go or even if she doesn't she will either be abducted or sent away to a brothel. Once she reaches the brothel she has to go through the "breaking in process" this basically involves being beat, raped, dehumanized, and forced to watch other women being beat or sexual assaulted. If during this process they decide to run away they will most likely be physically beat, but not enough to kill her as she is worth a large amount of money to these pimps. From there once they feel she is broken in enough they will take her to a "showing" where she will be forced to strip down and walk across a stage while buyers, and pimps decide if she is worth their money. Most buyers will decide to "test the merchandise" before purchasing and then if they decide to purchase they will transfer the girl they bought to a larger city where she will be forced to sell her body to dozens of men every single night. In Moldova alone 25,000 victims are human trafficked annually, and that is just a small number in comparison to the sales and trades of human beings all over Europe. Human trafficking is a worldwide problem that is just presented in different ways depending on where you go. In Thailand and Cambodia, there are huge issues of prostitution due to a massive cultural view of women. In Cambodia if a woman gives birth to a girl she is said to have "hit the jackpot" because she can sell her daughter in the sex industry to make money back. When a girl is born in rural Cambodia she is about 95% destined to be sold into a life of prostituon. It is said there that to measure the love you have for your daughter is dependent on where you sell her. If you make her prostitute in her own village or close by you love her, but if you send her away to be prostituted then you don't love her. As a matter of fact most Cambodia girls start grooming themselves from a young age to sell their bodies because they feel like they know that's the case for most girls, and that they need to do it to make money for their parents. How distorted is our world, and our view of love that a parent could sell their own daughter into slavery? This is not just a poor people problem, even more well off families in Cambodia will do this just to make more money. This is literally the screwed up world we live in, that we could allow a country to be host to over 2.5 million slaves due to human trafficking, with well over 100,000 (in which we can't account for) stuck in the sex industry with no choice, and no way out. In Thailand many families who live in rural areas can't obtain legal citizenship, so they can't get jobs. So to make money they will sell their daughters to pimps in larger cities like Bangkok. In Bangkok these girls, many of which are minors, are forced to dance in strip clubs, work in massage parlours, karaoke bars, and brothels. Another disturbing fact is that many men from North America, Europe, and Australia fly down to "vacation" in Thailand and spend their time renting underage girls for the night, using them for sexual pleasure. How have we as a human race allowed ourselves to believe it's okay to fly to another country to use a teenage girl for sex? We can't keep going on like this, and we can't keep allowing our daughters, sisters, and girls fall victim to sex slavery. If all of this hasn't given you a reality check yet, I thought I would post the going rate to buy or rent a human being world wide: 

Child in India: $12-$45
Teenage girl in India: $25 
Rent a child for a month in Thailand: $25
Girl in Kenya: $600 
Girl in Mozambique: $2-$1000
Woman in Pakistan: $400
Trafficker buying a girl in Canada: $5000
Woman in Moldova: $2686

These are just a few examples of how you can put a price tag on a human being. You can choose to shut your eyes and block this information out, but this is reality. This is actually going on to millions of human beings every single day. To close off this very long blog post, I would like to speak to the culture of prostitution here in Las Vegas. In Las Vegas you can't walk one block in the heart of the action on Las Vegas Blvd. without being offered cards with naked women on them and a number for an escort service, or seeing a billboard advertising an escort service, or simply seeing women walking around wearing very little clothing offering their bodies to men from all over the world. In Las Vegas itself prostitution is illegal, but in many other county's in Nevada there is legal prostitution with working brothels open. When I say it's illegal in Las Begas itself, all I mean is it's not allowed which makes it very shady and underground. The other night our group was doing a prayer walk of the older downtown area and we noticed these weird and really dark looking motels. The motels were all boarded up and had painted on doors and windows. Every single person in my group said they had this strange and heavy feeling while walking by, so we stopped and prayed for the motel and kept walking. While walking we noticed about four blocks of these motels. On our way back we stopped and asked why they were all boarded up and we were told that all of these motels were hot spots for prositution and were shut down by the cops. Even though they were shut down all they did was simply move locations and just a few more blocks down the street were motels in which girls would use for their "services". This is North America, and this is what is happening. This is not just an overseas problem, or a lower class problem, or problem outside our understanding. This is happening here, and it's happening every single day. I really don't know what else to say other than I hope you care about this as much as I do. I hope you care that millions of people are caught in human trafficking, and that so many of them of women, girls, and kids, that are literally forced to sell themselves. Any sort of innocence or dignity they is stripped away the moment they are forced to sell their bodies to their first client. So, I hope enjoyed this lengthly post. If you have any questions about human trafficking I will do my best to answer, and I can't wait to share more of what I am doing here in Las Vegas, and in Thailand and Cambodia to combat this issue. Thanks for reading and I will be sharing more soon!

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Prayer Project

So I know, you are probably thinking "Micayla you just posted on your blog yesterday." That is a fact yes, but I'm not your average blogger. I don't follow those blog rules, or some once a week guideline because I have to. What I say on this blog comes directly from what is placed on my heart, nothing more and nothing less. So I hope you can appreciate the fact that everything I write here is because I love sharing about what's going on in my life in order to be able to inspire others to follow their dreams, but not only that God's vision for their life. In my previous post I talked a little bit about saying "yes" to God on a daily basis, no matter what He may throw at you. As a follower of Christ it is our duty on a daily basis to take up your cross no matter how heavy it may be and say "yes" to what God has for you that day. This weeks topic of my DTS is "identity in Christ", and I am telling you just from day one that this week is going to be one that pushes me beyond where I feel comfortable. I could easily so no I don't want to do that, or no I feel uncomfortable but I would be cheating myself out of so many amazing things God has for me. Rewind about two days, I was at a church service here in Las Vegas like I have done every other Sunday since I first got here. The topic of the week was prayer and growing up in the church that seems to be a topic that comes up a lot. This time was different though. This time I heard something really fresh and new out of a message I'm sure I have heads dozens of times. What the pastor said wasn't some crazy radical concept that he just came up with. All he said was there is power in consistent prayer to God about those you care about most, and those things that seem to keep you awake at night. I really liked that concept and I knew that God was speaking directly to me through that pastor. I had forgotten to pray. I had forgotten to be consistent to continuously give everything up to God. There is literally immense amounts of power in the fact that I can directly communicate with God on a daily basis, so why don't I? Why don't you? Why wouldn't we give Him everything. He is sovereign. He is good. His hand controls the world. He has a plan. So why wouldn't I give Him everything? From all of this God laid on my heart to make a list of the people I care about most, or ones in which He will specifically lay on my heart (right now I am keeping it at a manageable number of about 8-10) then every day for the rest of my DTS I will pray for these people. So that's what I wanted the blog about, something I will be referring to as "the prayer project". A lot of people may ask "well what is prayer going to do?" All I can say is "what can't prayer do?" God is good, and He loves when we bring out messy lives before Him. He loves when we give Him room to be God. So many people skip over prayer because "God already knows, so why pray?" or "God already knows what will happen so why ask?" God's plan can only happen if you give Him room to be God, and that means yelling for help on a daily basis, saying "God I need you, I long for you." God knows what's going on, He knows what you need, He's just waiting for you to lay it all out before Him and let Him be God. So that's all I have to say, i hope you enjoyed, and I can't wait to post again soon. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Viva Las Vegas

Well I am at the end of my third week of DTS, it's honestly crazy how time flies. First off, I would like to apologize for my lack of blog posts. We are usually quite busy around here, and any downtime we have is usually spent relaxing, and enjoying the fact that we are in sunny Las Vegas. God is doing amazing things in Las Vegas through our base, but He is also doing amazing things in me and I can't wait to see where He takes me next. Every time I think about posting on this blog I debate about what to say because I don't simply want to list what I am doing here I want to be real and open and allow you guys to really understand how awesome our God is. Last week our topic was "the father heart of God". Going into that week all of our leaders said you know it's going to be really intense, and it's going to really challenge you, but who knew they were actually right! God can and will do amazing things when you just say "yes" to Him. I feel like a lot of Christians (including myself) forget that being a follower of Christ is a daily uphill battle of saying "yes". You can't just say "Jesus you are my Saviour" one time and that be it, you need to say "yes" to what He has for you every single day. That being said God has given me opportunity after opportunity here to step outside of my comfort zone and say "yes". One being an outreach we did called Viva La Worship. Basically what we did was busked on the Las Vegas Strip singing worship songs and praying for people who came by us. It was such a humbling opportunity to shamelessly worship Jesus, and get to play music in a context that was so foreign to me. Overall it was such an amazing experience and another really cool thing I can say that I have done. Another outreach that we did just this past weekend was hand out flowers to women on the street for valentines day. To put into context why this is so impactful, the area I am living in is not really the most put together area of Las Vegas. There are a lot of people around us who are not as fortunate as we are, and a lot of women who need to prostitue their bodies in order to make ends meet. The fact that we had the opportunity to just go out and love on some women who may never get that kind of love is incredibly humbling. Small acts done with great kindness have the opportunity to change this world and this was just a really amazing example of how that principle can be put into play. All in all I feel as though there is a lot of crazy change going on in our neighbourhood, our base, and in everyone's hearts who live at this base. I know a lot of people questioned the fact that I chose Las Vegas as the place to do my DTS, but I know that this is where God has called me to be and the cities that are the most broken need people who care and are compassionate that much more. So that's why I am here, I am here in Las Vegas because this city needs love, and this city needs redemption. Amazing things are going to happen in Las Vegas and I want to be apart of that. So until next time everyone, Viva Las Vegas!