They Matter: Justice for the Trafficked

“Jesus loves the little children;
all the little children of the world.
Red, brown, yellow,
black and white;
they are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
(–“Jesus Loves the Little Children” by George Frederick Root & Clare Herbert Woolston)

Imagine having to fend for yourself at the age of 9. Traumatized by the violence happening in your own neighborhood, you flee from your hometown without your parents– who, like many, have been mercilessly shot or beheaded by the Boko Haram in front of your eyes [1]. You escape with nothing more than the clothes on your back, and maybe some food for the trip, if you are lucky. You escape with your aunt and cousins; like the many others around you, flee on foot, running and walking for what seems like hours on end in temperatures that normally reach around 100 degrees fahrenheit [2]. 

Finally, you reach a town teeming with people who have fled violence as well. Thousands upon thousands of men, women and children camp in makeshift tents, sleeping on thin mattresses distributed by an agency. You have little space to walk around; the humidity is overwhelming, and the stench of sweat fills the air.

Weeks after you have arrived in the city, a man who claims to oversee the camp stops you and asks you to come with him. In fear, you hesitantly agree to do so. He takes you to a place where many other children have been gathered. Just like the heartbreaking, gruesome death of your parents, this man talks to a small group of men before your very eyes: claiming to be doing “the work of God,” he offers you to the men to be “fostered”– but you know what this really means [3]. You have heard it before, said about friends who had mysteriously disappeared a few days earlier. The men stare at you, smiling as if they are about to buy a new car or a choice piece of meat. “Where is my aunt?” you think, in a panic. You gather the nerve to ask the overseer this question, hoping it will intimidate him into letting you go free. In a casual tone, he quickly replies, “your aunt has agreed to give you to these men.” She even got to help set the price [4].

Your stomach sinks.
Fear surges through you.
You start to shake, your whole body violently moving in ways you can’t control.
You cannot muster a cry; you cannot escape.

With a handshake and the exchange of N15,000– a little over $75 US dollars– the deal is made [5]. In what feels like the darkest nightmare you’ve ever experienced, you are forced into a car by the men, who are still smiling over their “most recent purchase.” Still shaking, you start to cry; you are promptly hit by one of the men, ordered to stop crying “or else.” The men chuckle, speaking of how they will use you in their camps. It is then that you realize the most horrific part of this whole ordeal: they are apart of Boko Haram [6]. The very men you fled from months earlier are now the ones who “own” you.

Against your will, you are taught to steal and to kill– as well as the hate-filled doctrine that justifies it [7]. Here, you are plunged into the life that traumatized you in the first place. Here, you are made to believe a lie: that you do not matter.

I wish this story had no basis in reality. But, mournfully, this story was created from the real life stories of many in Northern Nigeria. Since the beginning of the Boko Haram insurgency in 2009, over 1.5 million people have been displaced; of those 1.5 million people, over half are orphaned children, barely escaping Boko Haram with their lives [9]. Many, in a spirit of evil greed, have taken advantage of these children by trafficking them: in recent reports, displacement camps in cities such as Yola, Nigeria have come under fire with the discovery of rampant sex and domestic trafficking in the camps [10]. Despite measures taken by Naptip to stop it, over 8 million are reported to be enslaved in Nigeria [11].

The incredibly evil, depraved act of selling children under the guise of “fostering” or caring for them is an act that leaves many children believing that they are worthless. The verbal, physical, and sexual abuse that usually ensues only ingrains this lie into them further.

Yet, this lie can be extinguished by the Truth: Jesus, the God of the Universe, not only created each and every one of these children as beautiful and unique; He set unmatchable value upon them– value no one could ever outbid– when He died for each one at Calvary. This fact alone demands that justice be sought on behalf of those whom Christ both loves dearly and values immensely (Luke 18:15-17, NIV). Although Nigeria’s NEMA has created a panel of investigators to probe camps and inspect such reports, much more must be done to ensure that the most vulnerable members of the displaced population are restored, loved, and protected.

[4] Reference source found in video.
[5] Most children sold into slavery are sold “from as little as N10,000 to as much as N100,000” (Premium Times).
[6] Reference source found in video.

Jesus states in Luke 18 that those who cry out to Him day and night for justice “will… get justice, and quickly” (Luke 18:8, NIV). God is the ultimate Judge; therefore, our prayers to Him on behalf of these children are important. For, “the prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16b, NIV).

Please pray that the countless boys and girls who live in these displacement camps would know Jesus as their Lord & Savior. Pray that the Love of Christ would start and continue to heal the hearts, minds and souls of these traumatized children.
Pray that the people involved in raping and abusing these children– as well as those involved in the disgusting business of trafficking– would be brought to complete justice. Pray Christ’s hand would protect and uphold them from such evil people.
Pray that children separated from their parents would be reconciled soon; pray that Christ would move the hearts of His people to love and take care of displaced orphans.

**On March 24, 2015, approximately 500 women and children were abducted by Boko Haram from primary schools in Damasak, Nigeria. Please be praying that they would escape/be rescued very soon.**

If you feel led to do more and take action, you can write your local and federal government, sign petitions, or donate to anti-trafficking and humanitarian agencies involved in helping and protecting those in Northern Nigeria.

Let there be swift justice for these precious children. May they know the Truth: they matter.

Do you know Jesus?

Many today believe the same lie as the children trafficked in Nigeria: whether abused by family, bullied, or rejected, many people deeply believe that they hold no real value or worth. Yet, this could be further from the truth. We did not just come into existence by chance; and, contrary to many deists, God did not just create us and leave us to our own devices. YHWH, manifested in Yeshua (or Jesus), created us with the utmost love and care, with the purpose of enjoying a deep, personal, perfect Love relationship with Himself. Read more about just how much God values you– and His perfect plan of saving and reconciling us with Himself– here.

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