East Africa (MNN) — Reports released this week detail the rescue of 85 minors from forced labor in Sudan. According to authorities, the minors came from several African nations: Chad, Eritrea, Niger, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.
Human trafficking poses a major threat to Africa’s 52 million orphans. With no adult protection, orphaned kids make easy prey for traffickers. Young men and boys are scooped up and forced to work or they become child soldiers. Orphaned girls become sex slaves or child brides.
In Part Two of our conversation with Set Free Ministries, Dean Vander Mey describes how God is using their ministry to set captives free in East Africa…literally and spiritually.
Orphans: rescued and redeemed
Several years ago, an email from an anonymous source arrived in Vander Mey’s inbox. It warned of suspicious activity at an orphanage near a school Set Free supported.
“I couldn’t ignore it,” Vander Mey recalls, adding that he sent it on to Set Free’s partners and asked them to ‘check it out.’ What they discovered was more than appalling.
“The orphan director was putting [the girls] in buses on weekends and he would take them to different villages…All the girls were being raped; 40 to 50 times a night for the weekend, and then he’d take them back to the orphanage,” says Vander Mey.
“We sent in police, we sent in investigators. He ran, the orphanage was closed down, we took all of the girls.”
All 24 of the abused girls, ranging from 8 to 16 years old, were invited to one of Set Free’s Christian schools for AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. At the school, the girls received their first formal education. Most importantly, they learned about their value in Christ.
Vander Mey spoke with some of the girls during his recent visit to East Africa.
“They’re thriving; some are teachers,” he shares. “They’ve been set free. The past does not affect their future because their minds are renewed…they have a new identity.
“When you have a new identity in Christ, then that’s it. The old is gone, the new is come. God showed them that they could be washed and cleansed from the sin that was done to them, and they could forgive…and then God uses them powerfully.”
A new future for the Next Generation
As explained in yesterday’s story, Set Free began its school ministry in East Africa as a response to the AIDS crisis. The counseling ministry’s 15 Christian schools grew from a desire to feed, teach, and disciple “forgotten” children.
Orphans aren’t the only vulnerable children helped by Set Free. A boy named Robert is the perfect example. Robert lived with his parents and siblings, but they weren’t sure what to do with him. Crippled children in Africa are often discarded and rejected.
Thanks to the intervention of a Set Free donor, Robert received the corrective surgeries he needed. Today, Robert can run and play with his schoolmates, and he’s at the top of his class.
Tomorrow, we’ll conclude this series with a look at the future. For now, could you keep Set Free and the girls we mentioned today in your prayers?
- Praise God for enabling Set Free and its partners to free the 24 abused girls. Pray for their continued spiritual growth.
- Ask the Lord to help each child find hope and eternal salvation in Christ.
- Pray leaders will make decisions using wisdom and discernment.