Bulgaria delegation to the Breaking Free conference
CAST YOUR NET(work)
Networking creates bonds which can help make Christians working in the fight against human trafficking a force to be reckoned with against those who seek to sell people into slavery. The dictionary defines a network as people or institutions that have a connection with each other and work together as a system. As I have attended conferences and seminars about human trafficking over the past years, I have discovered how absolutely essential networking is in this global fight. A cord made up of multiple strands is far less likely to break. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12. You can bet that those who make their living from the sexual exploitation of human beings are well-networked. All the more reason that we Christians who are fighting this evil must be networked as well, with God in the lead! No one of us can do it alone.
Some gleanings from conferences I have attended recently on the importance of networking:
Partnering & Paella—Sabadell, Spain April 5-7, 2013
“Co-laborers with God” was the theme for this conference, sponsored by the European Baptist Federation (EBF). Fifty people from 15 different countries were in attendance. The dialogue was about helping each other in the areas of awareness-raising, prevention, collaboration, and reintegration of women who have been working in Western Europe to their home countries. Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine were featured with special presentations, focused especially the Roma women who are so often trafficked from those countries. One session was also devoted to the Nigerian women who mostly come to work in Western Europe.
How is networking beneficial to each of our ministries?
--It’s ok to ask for help from each other. We have the contact information from each person in attendance, with the aim of helping both people and churches from Eastern and Western Europe to cooperate and connect to better minister to victims of human trafficking. When a Bulgarian woman who has been working in Spain, for instance, wants to come back to her home in Bulgaria, the ministry in Spain knows they can call on us here in Bulgaria for assistance.
--When outreach ministries meet persons of a special language group out on the streets, they can ask the network for materials in that language. We have shared many Bibles and Christian literature in Bulgarian with ministries in Western Europe who have asked us because they meet so many Bulgarian women and girls. We’ve even had materials printed especially for this cause.
--We learned about an organization that was formed by parents whose children were “groomed” into sexual exploitation by their “boyfriends”. This wonderful organization is available to come to other countries to speak about this. Who really knew about this issue or this organization until we networked together?!?!
--The goal of the EBF Anti-Trafficking group is to make goals and action plans together, decide what are the most important issues and what to do about them, while doing all of this in mutual respect, two-way dialogue and on common ground.
Of course, networking and dialogue over meals is an important part of every conference. The gift of hospitality of our Spanish host church was so evident in each of the meals they so lovingly prepared for us, and no more so than in the beautiful and delicious platters of paella they prepared for lunch one day. Is your mouth watering?
Cooperation & Chocolate—Brussels, Belgium April 15-17, 2013
Over 175 people from over 20 countries attended the “Breaking Free” conference, sponsored by the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution (ICAP Europe) and the Breaking Chains Network, a ministry working on the streets of Antwerp and Brussels. “Prevention to Reintegration” was the main theme of our days together of networking and sharing ideas. “...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” II Corinthians 3:17.
--Anti-trafficking, aftercare and reintegration initiatives that are life-changing are Christ-centered. In order to be genuinely life-changing, they require an unprecedented level of collaboration. If organized crime can collaborate and work together to create this multi-million dollar business, why can’t the church work together to combat it? We cannot afford to have a “lone ranger” approach! Something very powerful happens when God’s people come together as one.
--We heard from 22 different Christian organizations working in Europe to combat human trafficking. All of them meet women from Bulgaria in their ministries. What a networking opportunity for us here in Bulgaria to help women and girls who are victims of human trafficking and who want to reintegrate into their home country!
--An overwhelming number of Nigerian women are being trafficked to Western Europe to work in the sex industry. From Anne, working in awareness and prevention in West Africa: “You in Europe network together to take care of the demand for sex workers. We in Africa will work together to take care of the supply.”
Paella is to Spain what chocolate is to Belgium! Nothing better than conversation over a box of famous Belgian chocolate! Dessert after paella anyone?
Please Pray For……
-For Terry as she continues to work with others in Sofia reaching out to the girls working along the road.
-For strengthening of networks that provide the means for girls wanting to leave prostitution and return to their home countries.
Time is Running Out for the Matching Gift Opportunity
Through the generosity of a group of individuals, International Ministries is once again able to match donations given during the months of May and June. In order for the gifts to be matched they must come from individuals, be a new donor or an over-and-above gift of a current donor, and given between May 1—June 30, 2013.
Last year’s Matching Gift Fund was a tremendous blessing to us. Gifts given through the campaign last year made it possible for us to reach our funding goal for the year.
More information concerning the Matching Gift Opportunity can be found on the International Ministries website at www.internationalministries.org
Our sincere thanks to those of you who have already contributed!