It seems like much is starting to happen here in Costa Rica regarding prostitution and human trafficking. God is stirring the hearts of people all around and doors are opening. It seems that this topic of human trafficking is something that is coming to light among Christians. The media and governments are becoming aware of the immensity of this problem worldwide.
In the Children at Risk school this year we had a week focused on this topic and Ro Potter came to teach on it. During this week students went out on the streets to see first hand what’s going on and do some investigations. We went out twice – once to downtown San Jose and once to Jaco from about 12:30 at night until the early hours of the morning. We broke into smaller groups as we walked the streets. Posing as a client, one of our students was told by a pimp that he could have sex with a girl of 12 – 14 years old for $100 and he would take him there immediately if he liked. The student took the guys phone number and said he would call later. This was a huge wake up call for me, personally. We have been hearing so much about sexual exploitation of children here in Costa Rica, but to discover first hand that right downtown, this kind of thing is happening and so easily accessibly just felt sickening. Right now, on these very streets, young children are being exploited and sold. It is a tradgedy and it’s heartbreaking to know this is happening all around us.
So now our student has the phone number and is pursuing it with government agencies here. Paola is my former DTS student. After completing her DTS she stayed on staff here and has become a great friend. On her own initiative she has begun to reach out to the prostitutes on the streets of downtown San Jose. She knows that God loves each one of them and she has offered to teach some of the girls English. They are really excited about it and of course wondering why this stranger is offering them free English lessons? The answer is that each one of them is valuable and are image bearers of our God. Another friend who has taken our children at risk seminars owns a beautiful home in San Jose. She wants to donate her home to a ministry for children. She’s been praying for several years about the best use of this home and recently is looking into using it to open the very first Safe house for girls escaping the streets. This would be a place of refuge and healing and a chance to start a new life. On Friday her and Paola and another friend met with government officials to talk about this possibility!
Meanwhile in Jaco God is moving, too. He’s brought people here that have a heart to reach out to the girls who are working as prostitutes. In just the two short weeks we’ve been here we’ve met several church leaders who have it on their hearts to start something. We went out last week at night to just pray, observe and walk the streets. There are so many girls out there, even on a Tuesday night. It makes me feel ashamed to be American when I see the way these roving packs of guys from the States treat the girls – it’s so degrading. We could even hear these guys talking as the approached the prostitutes and as they talked and laughed they referred to their own wives back home, pretty horrible. Who knows what they’re telling their wives as they come down here for a “holiday.” Two of our students were invited to a planning meeting to pray and talk about ideas for reaching out to these girls. We’re going to have Paola come down for a few days and take our female students out on the streets to make some connections to get some English lessons started. English lessons are a great way to build relationships because it’s something that the girls want, so they will be motivated to come.
Although this is so heart breaking and overwhelming, and the in-your-face darkness is easier to see then the good that’s going on behind the scenes, God is on the move and change is coming. I believe as we continue to work together, pray, make our lives available, God is going to bring change, healing and restoration to many lives. Continue to pray with us!