No one can imagine how a transcendent God could become human. But maybe you can imagine a smaller picture of the incarnation of God, smaller yet very powerful.
I speak of a company of nuns who pose as prostitutes and enter brothels to rescue women and girls trapped in sex trafficking.
At Christmas we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus, He who left heaven and came to earth to rescue us from our bondage and sin. That rescue movement continues in His name.
Some 73 million people—one percent of the world’s population—are being trafficked for sex or labor. Seventy percent of these are women, half of those 16 or younger. Do the math: over 25,000,000 young girls are held against their will and forced into sex slavery.
Enter Talitha Kum (aka The International Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking in Persons). This relatively new and aggressive group of nuns are challenging the evil of sex trafficking.
They take their name and identity from the story of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter from death. The story shows Jesus’ compassionate action on behalf of a family and their young daughter: He took the girl by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” (Mark 5:41)
Talitha kum is Aramaic for “child arise.”
Talitha Kum began in 2004 in response to global sex trafficking. Today they include 1,100 sisters working in 80 countries. They plan to expand into the 140 countries that are calling for their engagement.
These women are involved in rescuing young girls and women from sex slavers. They buy young girls from the slavers. They set up homes for girls whose parents have sold them into sex trafficking. They work with local volunteers to interrupt the supply chain of young girls.
In addition to the rescuing, they provide rehabilitation for the women and children who were trafficked. This includes counseling, legal assistance and skills training to help their healing and their reintegration into society.
They are involved in advocacy to increase public awareness of this evil. They
- Offer seminar-workshops, public meetings, conferences and forums;
- Publish books and booklets, primers, posters, flyers and postcards;
- Produce videos, mini-films, theatre and street plays to increase public awareness and put vulnerable people on guard.
They also lead anti-human-trafficking campaigns to mobilize people for action to engage the “evil empire” behind the sex-trafficking network.
A network to end sex trafficking needs to be as powerful as the network that promotes it
Although the battlefield they engage is pernicious, many of their activities are relatively common to the world of charity and social justice. But in one arena their methods are outside the box and dangerous for the sisters. Some of their members pose as prostitutes, plying the streets to get access to brothels.
The Sisters of Talitha Kum are radically following Christ’s call and imitating his life. In a recent post, “Go and Do Likewise,” Steve Deace wrote, “These holy and chaste women are rescuing victims of human trafficking by posing as prostitutes in order to enter brothels and free children from the bondage of sex slavery.”
Investment banker John Studzinski, chair of Talitha Kum, notes that, “These sisters do not trust anyone. They do not trust governments, they do not trust corporations, and they don’t trust the local police. In some cases they cannot trust male clergy…. They work in brothels. No one knows they are there.” (Go here to read more.)
Sister Estrella Castalone, Talitha Kum coordinator, speaks passionately about our need to see those who are trafficked.
“They become invisible. They become a commodity, treated like objects for the ‘buy and sell’ business. They are no longer treated as human beings created in the image and likeness of God.”
Castalone argues powerfully for the need to build a network to end trafficking that matches the capacity of the network that supports trafficking.
“It is only through an equally well-organized network that links the countries of origin to those of transit and destination that we can prevent the weakest and the most vulnerable from becoming a human commodity.”
For more on Sister Estrella Castalone and the work of Talitha Kum see this three-minute video.
Steve Deace offers a fitting summary:
Can you image the richness of the prayer life of the sisters of Talitha Kum? Can you begin to comprehend the sense of purpose that greets them with the arrival of each new day? Does anything in your life come close to matching the cosmic gravity of the battle they wage, and the thorns they are willing to bear in their side, to achieve victory for the suffering and the lost?
They may be up to their eyeballs in the worst sort of filth that humanity can dish out, yet their lives put most of us to shame. We are lost. They are found.
For Deace’s full article go here.
As we celebrate the birth of Christ, may we remember what a radical birth this is, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
And may the life and work of the Sisters of Talitha Kum remind us of the radical nature of the calling he has on our lives.
To become part of the network see this.
- Darrow Miller
MeganDecember 24, 2015 - 8:27 pm
Darrow, right now I am participating in a campaign called Dressember which is actively combatting human trafficking by an unusual way. We wear dresses every day in December and have people donate money to the cause. The proceeds go to International Justice Mission AND A21, two legit organizations who are much like these nuns! I loved this article! Thank you! I think you’d be interested in Dressember because it’s a collaborative movement, leveraging fashion and creativity to restore dignity to ALL women!
adminDecember 31, 2015 - 6:33 am
Good Morning Megan Good to hear from you. Thanks for telling us about Dressember and their work to raise money to help those who are fighting sex trafficking. Would you be willing to draft a piece describing Dressember and your involvement with them. It could be a good follow-up to the blog you have responded to. Gary Brumbelow, our blog administrator, could work with you on the blog. Thanks for the consideration.
Happy New Year to you and to my friends at YWAM LA.
JonDecember 26, 2015 - 10:03 pm
Inspiring. I have a great admiration for people who are involved very directly in intervention against evil.
I am curious as to what you think about the possibility of buying-girls-out-of-slavery helping to maintain a market force that incentivizes the traffickers to traffic more.
adminDecember 30, 2015 - 11:06 am
Yes, Jon, their lives and actions are inspiring. My head would agree with you about buying the girls back would incentivize more kidnappings. My guess is that if I were on the spot where it were happening and I saw the anguish of the young girl and her family and I had the means to buy here safe return, I would likely do it. This is the old question of which takes p residence, head or heart.