Every child is a gift

Girls are a precious gift with enormous potential, but across the world, they are generally the last to have their basic needs met and the first to have their basic rights denied. World Vision, Every Girl Counts, 6

All children are a precious gift and should be treated with dignity, worth and value. However, many children are not given these opportunities in life. We know that many children in our neighborhoods face daily challenges of housing, hunger, meeting their basic needs, often of safety. Additionally, they struggle to learn in school due to the daily safety concerns many of them face. They often do not know that they are loved, valued, or have worth – oftentimes their lives and their circumstances tell them differently. The potential that is within them is not able to be seen, because they, even though they are young are too busy surviving daily, moment to moment.

A child’s particular situation is the only one he or she thinks is possible or exists – they do not know another existence is possible.

Sometimes, girls do not know that they have any worth, value or are loved – as is the case with exploitation, abuse and many cases of suffering. In my case, I never knew there was another option, another life – this was the only life I knew. As a young girl I went to school, lived in a neighborhood much like yours and looked much like all the other children. However, there were many things going on in my life that were not what other children experience. I was being commercially sexually exploited from a young age by my father. One of the implications of this type of commercial sexual exploitation is that it steals the identity and future of person. Yes, there are physical and psychological implications to be certain. However, there are also implications that can not necessarily be seen. What did you dream of at 6, 7, 8, 12? Were you confident, strong? Did you think you were beautiful? All of that was taken, gone – an invisible but powerful side effect. A child, like myself who is surviving, but being exploited can not be strong, dream or think she is anything but what she is told she is (slave, whore, slut, created for this life of being sold). She is a puppet, she does what she is told -exactly; there is no space for her to have a choice, to dream, to run or to say no, doing so will get her killed.

All i knew was being sold, I didn’t know that I could have friends, learn or do anything apart from being an object sold for sex.

This was never God’s intention for girls (of any age) – He has not forgotten, turned away or is unable to reach us. In the Bible, fathers were commanded to protect children, {including girls} (Isaiah 38:19; Colossians 3:21). God sees our pain and is ready to act on our behalf –

esther

Therefore, we, the community and many first responders, especially those who have direct connection with minors (anyone 18 and under) have a great responsibility. We are responsible to care for them, to help them know they have great worth and dignity and to provide advocacy and care for them in the any situation that they may need. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The Kingdom of God has come in part and we represent it to many who may need us and need us to be there to see, to intervene and love them.

In my life no one was ever there, but the good news is things are different now. How can you represent God to others in your neighborhood? Don’t let your voice be silenced any longer. Maybe you are here ‘For such a time as this”.

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