I slipped into the air-conditioned comfort of a packed seminar as it was beginning and settled in to hear statistics that I already knew. They were still appalling.
Nearly three weeks ago, a plethora of Nazarenes filled a small conference room to hear a good-hearted, Christian man fill our notebooks with statistical information about his advocacy against the trafficking of humans. I appreciated his information, his journey, his faith, and his sacrifice for what is both a globally pandemic illustration of the disease of sin and the newest, trendiest, buzz-word in North-American Christianity: human trafficking. In fact, some folks go so far as to say it is the ‘sexy topic’ in Christianity right now.
I do not want the subject of trafficked humans to ever be sexy or simply a buzzword within my Nazarene neighborhood. That is not who we are. As Nazarenes, the core of our beliefs are rooted in the thrust toward intentional incarnational living and a belief that God transforms and heals society one prostituted soul at a time through his grace. In God’s grand plan, he chooses to use us as a delivery system of himself.
I was not your typical Nazarene, anti-trafficking seminar attendee that day at General Assembly. You see, we live in the world that this kind gentleman was describing. While the news that a prostituted woman lives next to you may be new information in Indianapolis, we have been dealing with this issue for the last nineteen years in the former Eastern Europe.
In 1994, you sent our family to Moscow Russia. From our kitchen window on the 8th floor, we could watch Russian women sell themselves on the busy boulevard below our apartment building.
In 1998, the Church asked us to move to Sofia, Bulgaria. I drove our girls back and forth to school every day for 13 years. Within 2 minutes of our driveway, our path took us past scantily clad girls on the side of the street. They were so much a part of the landscape that our young daughters never once asked what the women were doing.
In 2011, we found ourselves in Budapest, Hungary. In order to buy groceries, I drive by the burnt-out tires that serve as makeshift fires to keep the girls warm while they wait for their next customer.
A few years ago, while volunteering in a Bulgarian orphanage, God gave me a friendship with a trans-gender teen who prostituted himself as a woman to make money for cigarettes.
At that same orphanage, I witnessed a fellow Christian intervene and save the life of an 8 year old boy whose father was on the verge of selling him for organ harvesting.
I have been in the home of a Bulgarian mother of two who spends several months a year in Greece prostituting to provide for her family.
I have looked into the beautiful eyes of 13 year old Roma girls whose fathers will soon sell them for the bride price of one cow.
I have been on the train from Hungary to Germany and watched a pimp traffic two women and wonder what I could do but in my heart know that I can do nothing.
If the reality of the trafficking problem in Eastern Europe has anything to offer our North American Nazarene church, it is experience and hope. Sadly, that was the one thing I did not hear in the trafficking seminars at General Assembly, so please, hear it now. Your Nazarene churches in Central Europe are facing this issue and with God’s help, we are seeing transformation happen.
In Bucharest, Monica Boseff, the wife of Nazarene pastor Cristi Boseff, and director of the only NGO in Romania focusing on the rehabilitation of trafficked women just wrote that Starbucks has agreed to hire rehabilitated women in an effort to help them begin new lives. If you would like to have a copy of Monica’s latest newsletter, Facebook a request at our Central Europe Field page or email me at Dobulgaria@aol.com
In Bulgaria, Zhana Georgieva is working with local authorities in education and prevention of the sale and prostitution of women and girls out of the 2nd largest city-provider of trafficked, women in the country.
In the coming weeks, we will be posting more regularly about this topic so please check back.
If you would like give financially towards this Nazarene ministry in Central Europe, donations can be made via our Nazarene Convio account at Nazarene Deputation Account
These donations should be specifically earmarked for anti-trafficking ministry and we will use personally direct these funds toward these ministries on our Central Europe Field. Please email / Facebook us to notify us of your donation.
We want to engage in an ongoing conversation with you about this issue, so please ask, comment, contribute, and pray.