God is doing some amazing things in and with LightForce International Ministries this year. Our very first press release was launched just this past week and I wanted to share it with everyone! I promise to update everyone soon with a more detailed account. Hugs and Blessings!
LIGHTFORCE INTERNATIONAL SHOWS POWER OF ONE IN FIGHT AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Kentucky Woman a Force to be Reckoned With in Battle against Costa Rican, Nicaraguan Sex Trade;
Mariposa Micro-Finance Project Helps Women, Children Learn Jewelry Trade for Alternative Income
LEXINGTON, Kentucky and SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (June 8, 2010) – One woman from Lexington, Kentucky is on a mission to help sexually exploited women and children in Costa Rica and Nicaragua experience a new way of life. Love, support and teaching a new trade – jewelry-making – are the tools this missionary uses as she brings hope and aid to hungry, abandoned and exploited children in the two Central American countries that the U.S. State Department calls “source and transit” points for forced prostitution.
Anna Carroll, founder of LightForce International Ministries, works in cooperation with Costa Rican and Nicaraguan church leaders who guide and support her efforts, especially in the border areas. LightForce International’s anchor program is called “The Mariposa Project,” an outreach that supplies food, basic medicines, and workshops for learning jewelry-making. Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish. Carroll, the daughter of Pastor Kim Carroll of the Cornerstone Church of Lexington, which sponsors the mission. has dedicated this project to the transformation and redemption of exploited women and children involved in prostitution.
“We want every victim to have the opportunity to experience the love, beauty, freedom and hope found in relationship with Jesus. It is through The Mariposa Project that we have begun to reach the women and children in Central America by holding fiestas and trade workshops. Out of these outreach events we are slowly gaining their confidence and trust,” said Carroll. “This project is dedicated to my grandmother, Betty Bell, whose initials "BB" make the wings of the butterfly. She was the first supporter of the jewelry project.”
“The transformation from brokenness to wholeness is a metamorphosis that begins by loving people where they are and as they are,” explains Carroll. “The jewelry workshops allow women to see there is another way to support themselves. We ask the ladies to make three pairs of earrings, one of which we resale to support the ministry.”
This summer, LightForce International will partner with Village Ministries International to host a series of seminars on abstinence, health risks and purity in the northern mountains of Nicaragua, a region where young girls are at high risk for prostitution and trafficking. Carroll is currently visiting Kentucky as she prepares for the upcoming Ichthus Music Festival, June 16-19, where LightForce will have a booth to distribute information and sell tee-shirts and jewelry in order to raise funds to support this summer’s outreach programs. For supporters unable to attend the Ichthus festival (www.ichthusfestival.org), donations can be made through the ministry website at www.lightforceintl.com.
While other cultural or religious leaders may be debating social justice, Carroll’s mission demonstrates a growing awareness and commitment among American evangelicals to fighting modern slavery. "Human Trafficking" has been selected as the Evangelical Press Association's "Cause of the Year" for 2010. EPA will present a special "Higher Goals" award next year for the best article on this general theme published during the 2010 calendar year. This special award is designed to encourage EPA publications to write about this pressing human rights issue.
"The ongoing tragedy of human trafficking is an offense to God, who values humans so highly that He sent His own Son to die for them," said Doug Trouten, EPA executive director, in an announcement about the 2010 Cause of the Year. "Those who treat people as commodities to be bought and sold are sinning against their brothers and sisters, and against God who created people in His image."
Human trafficking involves luring, tricking, coercing or forcing people to work in exploitative conditions for little or no pay. Although human trafficking often involves the forced shipping of people from one location to another, it sometimes happens within a nation. Some claim that human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, with annual revenues exceeding $40 billion. The United Nations estimates that nearly 2.5 million people from more than 100 nations are victims of human trafficking.
"Human trafficking is a large enough topic to include slavery, indentured servitude, debt bondage, forced marriage, prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation, the sale of infants for adoption, organized begging, and forced military conscription including child soldiers," said Trouten. "The issue also connects with questions of how we treat refugees and runaways." After drug-smuggling and gun-running, human trafficking is estimated to be the world’s most profitable criminal activity.
More of Anna’s Story, in Her Words:
While pursuing a medical career in Lexington, Ky., and working with several ministries through my local church, I felt a tug. It was time to go.
I’d gone on several short-term mission trips, but thought that someday, God would call me to mission work full time. When he called me to work with children in Costa Rica, I closed down my American life, and said, “God, take me where you will. I want to be your hands and feet. Write my story, your version, your way.”
Once I arrived in Costa Rica, I realized that it wasn’t my story that would be the focus. He wanted to share with me the stories of thousands of hungry, abandoned and exploited children. One image stands out in particular. In Costa Rica, I saw a bright pink backpack bobbing up and down on the back of one of the cutest little girls I have ever seen. The 10-year-old bounded up to me, wrapped her arms around me and introduced herself. She had just returned from school. As she ran off to play, a woman told me her story. As is often the case with child prostitutes, her impoverished family sold her at a very young age to a hotel to be used as a prostitute. They sold her for $7. She was later rescued and placed in a Christian shelter, where she now lives. Perhaps, like me, this story brings tears to your eyes and has you call out to our Father, who alone can rescue and heal these children.
Right now, I’m working with churches in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. One Costa Rican congregation in particular has a huge burden (but few resources) to reach sexually exploited youth in the area. These children are hidden by older prostitutes and work primarily at night. They are smuggled between the two countries by truck drivers. The congregation had been praying for God to send a missionary who could look past the darkness and bear God’s light. I’m honored to be an answer to that prayer. Praise the Lord, I get to see the look of hope in eyes that once looked hopeless. We invite women and children from both countries to our rescue fiestas, and – against tradition – they are coming. High officials are taking notice and offering their help. No door remains closed to us, because the way is paved by the prayers of his people.
Costa Rica and Nicaragua are just the beginning. Christ longs to crush human trafficking, and I pray He uses LightForce to stamp it out from every nation. We desire to equip local churches with the necessary resources to combat this issue, all the while preaching the gospel, our message of hope.
God reigns, and He is good.
More than 3,000 girls and young women work in San José’s 300 brothels. Now rivaling Thailand and the Philippines as the world’s leading sex tourism destination, Costa Rica is credited with having the region’s largest child prostitution problem and has been flagged by INTERPOL, as the country is fast becoming the hemispheric capital of sex tourism.
LightForce’s Plan in Central America:
• To feed the women and children.
• To teach other trades as means for income.
• To raise awareness and to educate the world about the problem of exploitation & prostitution.
• To preach the Gospel – a message of hope.
• To love the women and children.
• To connect them with the local community of believers (local churches).
Nicaragua is principally a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and children are trafficked within the country and to neighboring countries, most often to El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States, for commercial sexual exploitation. The most prevalent form of internal trafficking is the exploitation of children, both boys and girls, in prostitution. NGOs identify Managua, Granada, Esteli, and San Juan del Sur as destinations for foreign child sex tourists. NGOs report instances of forced child marriages between young girls and older foreign men, particularly in San Juan del Sur. Children are trafficked within the country for forced labor in construction, agriculture, the fishing industry, and for domestic servitude. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009
Factors that Contribute to the Trafficking Infrastructure
Throughout the Central American region, “machismo” attitudes are prevalent, and women are often viewed as sexual objects. Interfamily violence, the breakdown of families, and poverty push young people to leave their homes and communities to search for better lives. The pull factor of the United States also causes many young people to migrate northward. To a lesser extent, pull factors entice young people toward more prosperous neighboring countries, for example, from Nicaragua south to Costa Rica. (Nicaragua has the second lowest per capita income in the western hemisphere.) At border crossings, children are especially vulnerable to the whims of corrupt immigration officials or traffickers who help them cross the border.—The Protection Project, Johns Hopkins University
For more information about LightForce International Ministries, visit lightforceintl.com and letgodwrite.blogspot.com. LightForce International Ministries can also be found on Facebook and YouTube. Anna Carroll tweets at @AnnaMCarroll.