Bangladesh Adventures

Monday, February 19, 2007

Do We Really Want to Follow God?

Here is a daily devotion for you from a network I’m (Kevin) on, ‘Love justice, do mercy! (Zech. 7:9)’

May the Peace of the Lord Disturb You!

From: PRISM ePistle [epistle@esa-online.org]

1. FOLLOWING GOD TO THE BROTHEL,by Jim Palmer

From Nashville, we covered 8,792 miles to get there, and soon after arriving I was plunged into an evil I had hoped existed only in nightmares. I would have long since conveniently buried this experience beneath a mountain of rationalizations if I hadnt looked deep into the vacant eyes of a 12-year-old sex slave and vowed never to forget. Her expression cannot be purged from memory, and sometimes my mind plays tricks by imposing her face on some little girl I see walking in the mall or playing at the park. Returning to my past world of ignorance would relieve my grief, but its impossible to go back.

There are some details about my rude awakening in South Asia that I cannot tell you, including our specific locations. I traveled with a small band of highly trained professionals from International Justice Mission, which covertly deploys operatives around the globe to rescue victims of horrific human rights crimes, usually involving children. I saw BATMAN BEGINS, but I didnt realize there are actually people who risk their lives under cover of night, swooping in amid the horror to save innocent young lives from the clutches of evil. These people are real heroes, and I met them in the dark alleys of one of the largest red-light districts in the world.
My job was to tag along, do exactly as I was told, and witness this heartbreaking tragedy with my own eyes. Arriving on an oppressively humid night, I taxied down into the red-light district with a guy Ill call Ron. We spent the evening posing as customers looking for action, in order to identify brothels forcing young girls into prostitution.

During the cab ride back, Ron detailed the terrifying trap that captured these girls. Lured to the city by the promise of earning money as domestic household servants, they are taken captive, transported by night to a brothel, and sold to the highest bidder. Locked in a room the size of a closet, they are told they will be providing sex to customers on demand. When the first customer comes, the child resists and fights back. The brothel owner beats her into submission with iron rods and electrical cords. She finally consents and begins providing sex six days a week, with up to ten customers daily. She is rationed one meal a day and not allowed to leave the brothel. When touring their bedrooms (four to six girls crammed together per dingy room) I almost lost it emotionally upon discovering that the same little girls forced to give sex still sleep with stuffed teddy bears and rabbits.

My worldview was turned upside down in the length of time it took to walk past the line of little girls waiting outside a clinic to receive treatment for AIDS and every sexually transmitted disease imaginable. I couldnt get back on the plane to Nashville quick enough.

I had a lot of time to kill on that long international flight, so I sat and I thought and I wondered, Where was God today?

Yes, I know God is omnipresent, but I wondered, specifically, where was God today? Where did he go? What did he see? How did he feel? I began imagining God present at that miraculous moment a precious life was born into the world, the joy and marvel of the newborn bearing Gods image and uniquely fashioned by his hands. Taking in the beauty of a brilliant blazing sun slowly descending behind endless ocean waves, I have felt the company of the Creator amid the splendor of his handiwork. Jogging a woodland trail one autumn morning I passed an aged couple leisurely strolling in conversation hand in hand. God must have been there smiling as these soul mates shared a ripe and tender love, a gift from God, who is himself named Love. These simple but magnificent miracles inspire love and adoration for God deep within and draw me to him.

Somewhere over the Atlantic, 40,000 feet above the earth, these nice thoughts about God gave way to disturbing images I wish I could forget from my trip. Now the question Where was God today? tortured me. Today a 10-year-old girl is being strapped down tight to a bed and brutally and repeatedly raped. God is present. Today an 8-year-old emaciated boy is covered with a cardboard box and left to die. Slowly he slips into unconsciousness. God is present. Today a young mom of three wails in bed as her skeletal body writhes with the unrelenting agony of AIDS. God is present. Still, I grew angry. Why was God pushing these horrors in my face? I was emotionally spent and wanted to go home to my world. God could have THAT world; that was his deal, hes God; I didnt live in THAT world.

Or did I?

Sitting in 13D, I uncovered something unsettling about myself. I dont really want a relationship with God. Heres what I want. I want to share with God all I feel, all I need, all that grieves me, all that makes me happy, the puzzling things, the fun things, and the hard things, but I would prefer that God keep his stuff to himself. I dont want to hear about his pain and share in his grief. I dont mind listening to God as long as Im receiving solutions, answers, and advice. Maybe what I really want is a divine vending machine: pop in my prayer, press the button for my need, and Im good to go. A professional live-in massage therapist and a Starbucks within walking distance would be nice too.

Any relationship involves two people, you and the other. It seems that in a relationship with God, we would desire to listen to the other to learn what the other is really like. But how is this possible without going through the adventure of each day with the other? Can we personally and intimately know someone without sharing experiences, doing things togetherlittle things as well as big things, and taking the risks of love together? Wouldnt we want to learn how to love those whom the other loves, to see them through his eyes? We would want to rest and celebrate together, to share beautiful things, to laugh together. But wouldnt we also want to enter into the pain and grief the other feels when pain, injustice, and cruelty are inflicted upon those he loves? In every abusive home where a child cries in fear and pain, and in every city street where a homeless person shivers under newspapers on the pavement, the living Christ is there. Whether its across town or on the other side of the globe, suffering people surround us. Maybe carrying Jesus cross is our free choice to become compassionately involved with him in the pain of others and be partners with God in bringing healing and transformation.

Just a small glimpse into Gods world was enough for me. Its staggering to consider the intensity of anger and anguish I felt witnessing just a few injustices compared to what God must feel being personally and fully present to countless such heinous horrors 24/7. Youd have to be comatose not to feel Gods hurt and anger ooze from the pages of Scripture over the oppression of the weak and vulnerable. Even after all my sophisticated exegesis of the Old Testament prophets and words of Jesus, I cant seem to get away from the fact that the main message of God to his people about injustice is to get off our rear ends and do something! This goes way deeper than feeling guilty about doing more; Im trying to figure out how I got to the place where the things that break the heart of God are so marginal to mine.

Im starting to wonder if I can even have a relationship with God this way, and Im left with the question of how much I really want to know God. Theres no having it both ways. Whether I like it or not, the God who dances over the breathtaking sunrise weeps over each victim of brutality.
[Used by permission. Adapted from DIVINE NOBODIES by Jim Palmer (Thomas Nelson Inc., Copyright 2006).]
The above story could be from Cambodia, Thailand or Sri Lanka- they are the three biggest Sex Tourism destinations for children- Pray for those countries and especially the children being raped.

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