Human trafficking big commodity in Moldova, Christians respond

By April 11, 2007

Moldova (MNN) — Sandwiched between
Romania and Ukraine, Moldova is one of the poorest nations in Europe. With its
moderate climate and fertile farmland, Moldova's economy relies heavily on
agriculture. But Moldova is also known for something else internationally —
human trafficking.

According to the International
Organization for Migration (IOM), Moldova is considered one of the primary
countries of origin for human trafficking for the rest of Europe. Additional
reports revealed that Moldovan children are being trafficked to Russia for
begging gangs and to Ukraine for working on farms.

The promise of employment and money entices many young women from rural areas
to accept transportation to so-called jobs abroad. Once there, however, their passports are confiscated, and they are forced into prostitution.

But the light of Christ shines in these dark corners of Moldova. Young Next
Generation Christian
leaders at Russian Ministries' outreach center in the
capital city of Chisinau (Kishinev) tackle these thorny issues head-on.

The ministry to women caught in the snare of human trafficking began on a small
scale for these national workers. But with encouragement and help from ministry
partners in the West, the ministry began to take off. "After attending a
conference in Wisconsin in 2006," recalls one of the team leaders,
"we knew we had to continue our ministry. Once we returned home, we got in
touch with 22 women whose 'owner' had been caught by the police. These women
put us in contact with other victims of human trafficking."

The two main goals of this ministry are prevention, especially among young
people who are at-risk for human trafficking, and rehabilitation of those who
are involved in trafficking.

These young Christian leaders from Moldova are convinced that prevention best
begins with the next generation of children and young people. With one in nine
children in Moldova–about 100,000 children–growing up in incomplete families,
Russian Ministries' national workers observe that no one is there to
"teach them about the value of their lives, about moral standards, or even
about life skills."

Russian Ministries' team of Next Generation Christians, cooperating with public
school officials, are in the high schools full-time, teaching Christian ethics,
the dangers of drugs and HIV/AIDS, as well as issues related to human
trafficking. Throughout the year, 8,000-10,000 teenagers are being exposed to
biblical values, and more significantly, building relationships with young
Christian leaders.

Then there are daycare centers for
children who live in dysfunctional families. In partnership with Youth for
Christ, there are 40 daycare centers run by churches in Moldova. Plans are
underway for a similar daycare ministry in Russia.

The ministry of rehabilitation for women involved in prostitution and human
trafficking is long and hard. Many women want to change but often fall victim
to their old lifestyles. Lena had been a prostitute in Chisinau, but after a
botched abortion, she wanted a new life.

At the end of 2006, more than 100
people participated in a conference on human trafficking in Moldova. This was
the first time evangelicals gathered to discuss the issue of human trafficking
and how the church should respond.

God is at work. Pray that this team of
young Christian leaders from Moldova will not lose heart as they press on for
the sake of the kingdom of God.

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