I Know a Slave.
An indentured slave sat in my apartment today and sobbed her heart out. As Pete and I both encircled her with our arms and prayers, she poured out her grief and fear, not for herself but for her 8 year old brother.
This is the story of S (name hidden to protect her – she is in present danger for even approaching us).
Without parents or family, S left her rural province to take a job with a foreign Madam as a cleaner in a Phnom Penh apartment building. For $60 a month she has boarded at the Madam’s house while working 7 days a week – morning to night – cleaning, washing and sweeping day after long day. No days off. S had no family to take care of her or her brother. Father divorced the mother for a younger wife and mother fled the village to eek out survival for herself. Children abandoned. So S came to the city to earn a wage to support her brother and herself. She was just 12 years old when she took this responsibility. Brother lives with the monks in a pagoda in their province. Monthly S tries to send money to provide food for her little brother, but she frequently falls short and has to borrow money.
S is smart, hardworking and trustworthy. She is also illiterate, desperately poor, vulnerable and spiritually lost.
Fast forward 8 years and S now owes $3000 with interest growing faster than payments can be made. It may as well be $3 million to her. Her life ahead is a long continuous drudge to pay off her debt while still supporting a little brother she never sees and agonizes is okay.
For a 20 year old Khmer woman to take this risk to share her story with us is short of miraculous. Her embarrassment, shame, and fear she will be found out by Madam is palpable on her face. In her very limited English and our very limited Khmer, she asks, “You help children?”
She doesn’t want much….nothing for herself. Just a better life for her little brother. A safe place where he won’t be sexually violated, sold into labor trafficking or hooked on meth with rural gangs. A place where he can get an education and learn.
I (Debbie) come from a country with so many choices. But, here S has no choice. She must stay and work until an impossible debt is paid off and which grows bigger each day. She must stay and live in fear the Madame will find out she’s told someone of her struggles. S will never have a day off to enjoy a meal out, go to school, see a movie or hangout with friends. For now, slavery is her only option.
“ But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4–5)
Jon Bloom says, “These two words are overflowing with gospel. For sinners like you and me who were lost and completely unable to save ourselves from our dead-set rebellion against God, there may not be two more hopeful words that we could utter. “(Desiring God)
There is hope for S. There is hope for me. And it came in the form of a baby sent to earth to grow, die and be resurrected for my sin. Once a slave, now set free.
There is hope for S and her little brother. It lies in the person of Jesus Christ.
Pray for S and Divine Wisdom as we minister to this precious one. This is what we do. Thanks for joining us in support of this work.
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