Church members at Calvary Chapel, located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., sponsored nearly 1,300 children over the Easter weekend during a Compassion Sunday event for Compassion International, the world's largest Christian child development and sponsorship organization. The focus of the sponsorships was to engage the church in helping curb human and sex trafficking of children in high risk countries including Thailand, Brazil and Colombia.
“Poverty remains to be one of the largest contributors to the exploitation of children around the world. In many developing countries, impoverished children are highly susceptible to the pressures of human trafficking and the minor sex trade industry,” said Outreach Pastor Chet Lowe of Calvary Chapel, Fort Lauderdale. “Sadly, in many cases, it’s the children’s families who are themselves desperate for money that push them into this horrible ‘business.’”
A majority of the sponsorships were for children in Thailand, Brazil and Colombia because of the high levels of trafficking in those countries. Thailand and Brazil, for example, are considered to have the first and second worst child sex trafficking records respectively, and this is amid growing concerns that the situation in Brazil can worsen as that nation prepares to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. In Colombia, the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) estimates that as many as 35,000 women are trafficked each year with estimated profits of $500 million.
“Sometimes it’s hard to believe that in a world that prides itself on ‘enlightenment,’ such a travesty as human and sex trafficking is taking place,” said Mark Hanlon, senior vice president, USA, of Compassion International. “But inside our child development centers, every worker is trained to spot signs of child abuse. In fact, they may be a child’s first line of defense.”
“Ultimately, it all comes down to protecting a child’s dignity as well as their physical and emotional health,” Hanlon said. “Our children learn they are valued and loved and have every right to become all God created them to be.”
Calvary Chapel had the opportunity to visit Colombia recently and was hosted by Carlos Escobar, the country director of Compassion Colombia. During their visit, they observed some of the training that Compassion offers regarding how to avoid being a victim of sex trafficking.
Over the course of a seven-year relationship with Compassion International, Calvary Chapel, Fort Lauderdale, has sponsored over 6,000 children.
Compassion International is the world’s largest Christian child development organization that permanently releases children from poverty. Founded in 1952, Compassion successfully tackles global poverty one child at a time, serving more than 1.2 million children in 26 of the world’s poorest countries. Recognizing that poverty is more than a lack of money, Compassion works through local churches to holistically address the individual physical, economic, educational and spiritual needs of children - enabling them to thrive, not just survive. Compassion has been awarded ten consecutive, four-star ratings by Charity Navigator, America’s largest charity evaluator.