She wakes up, and she can feel hands on her that do not belong. She is not safe. Her body is full of fear and though she is only eight, the years are wearing on her because she already knows too much. She is a real girl, a real child, as real as you and me. Her skin feels the same touch, her heart feels the same pain, and when she is alone she cries so hard because she doesn’t know if she will ever be free. She is a child sex slave.

I began telling these stories on campus while at Lee University in 2005. Prior to that, my family and friends would listen to me go on and on about justice issues since I was about thirteen.  I have since learned that there are times when you say something so often that you begin to stop feeling it, no matter how horrific it is. Scarier than that is the idea that even though we have longed for the world to know about these issues, it is possible that our ears are no longer hearing what is being said. We say, “there are 27 million slaves in the world,” and we don’t connect the reality to the statistic.  We say the words: CHILD SOLDIER, SEX SLAVE, etc, and do you know what is heart breaking from the bottom of my soul? The idea that these words are losing their meaning. Think about your life. Think about those painful days, those lonely days, those days when all of the suffering was swelling in your chest and it felt so real to you. Maybe it still does. THAT, is what is at the other end of the words “child soldier” and “sex slave.” These are people who cry themselves to sleep at night, people who are not treated as people and yet still process pain the same as any other person. I wish we would not allow the borders of our nations to segregate suffering, because distance does not alter the reality of injustice. Let’s wake up. Let’s get excited about the fact that we all have a purpose and the world is full of opportunities to live out that purpose. Think back on the times when you hoped someone would help you, and then ask yourself how much more meaning your life would have, if you help and love someone else who truly needs you.

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