Part 2 – Suffering and Misery Trend Du Jour

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Suffering and Misery Trend Du Jour Part 1

As I was saying in Part 1, there is an annoying habit of Christians to jump on one brand of human misery as their favorite “cause- come- lately,” in much the same way some teenagers jump on whatever is the latest fashion trend.

Secularists have also been guilty of this bizarre and tasteless phenomenon (recall Bob Geldof’s Live Aid and Farm Aid, and U2’s Bono and his AIDS and Africa charity relief or whatever).

What I find even more maddening and disgusting is how so many Christians ignore the hurting Christian people in the United States to go and help the (Non Christian) suffering in other nations.

Many American Christians are so preoccupied with helping Non-Christian / Non-Americans that I find this behavior sort of infuriating and a tad hypocritical.

I typically see American tele-evangelists, such as Joyce Meyers and the hosts of the Christian “Life Today” program, begging their viewers to send in money to get foreign children out of poverty or prostitution, usually ones in Africa.

What about American children of all skin colors who are living in poverty, or who are sexually abused? Are American kids, of whatever skin color, any less worthy than typically darker-skinned children in Africa or central or South American nations?

The Scriptures actually tell Christians that while they should try to help all people, that their PRIMARY duty is to help other hurting, suffering Christians in their own group first and foremost (see Galatians chapter 6, verse 10, also 1 Timothy 5: 8), not to place a priority on helping pagan, atheistic, starving, impoverished, suffering heathens outside of their own nation.

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I’m also tired of Christians who never seem to think of the Christians among them who need help, such as the elderly Christian woman in your congregation whose dying husband has Alzheimer’s.

If you are a Christian and you attend that woman’s church, why don’t you help her out in her time of sorrow and trouble, instead of fixating upon starving kids in Africa?

Why are you (I’m talking to Christians here) so fixated on helping starving kids in Africa (and who are kids that you likely have never even met in person) more than you are in helping the Christians around you who are undergoing financial, emotional, or physical health problems?

Those orphaned or sick kids in Africa are not necessarily more worthy of your help and love than the suffering Christian who attends your church, or your American neighbor down the street who’s going through a tough time.

Or, Mr. or Ms. Do-Gooder Christian, why are you more concerned with volunteering at an abused woman’s shelter among people you do not even know, when there are people in your very church, (other Christians), who could use your assistance, encouragement, and help?

I do not think it’s noble or “Christ-like” for you to spend all your time, money, effort, and/or compassion on people you don’t even know in a homeless shelter or in an impoverished nation when you are neglecting to help those right under your nose.

Here is an article that discusses the very problem of young American girls being forced into prostitution in the United States, but so many American Christians are focused only on helping foreign girls who get stuck in the sex trade or human trafficking industry.

From a New York Times article, What About American Girls on the Streets,” by Nicholas D. Kristof

April 2011
When we hear about human trafficking in India or Cambodia, our hearts melt. The victim has sometimes been kidnapped and imprisoned, even caged, in a way that conjures our images of slavery.

When we hear about human trafficking in India or Cambodia, our hearts melt. The victim has sometimes been kidnapped and imprisoned, even caged, in a way that conjures our images of slavery.

But in the United States we see girls all the time who have been trafficked — and our hearts harden. The problem is that these girls aren’t locked in cages. Rather, they’re often runaways out on the street wearing short skirts or busting out of low-cut tops, and many Americans perceive them not as trafficking victims but as miscreants who have chosen their way of life. So even when they’re 14 years old, we often arrest and prosecute them — even as the trafficker goes free.

In fact, human trafficking is more similar in America and Cambodia than we would like to admit. Teenage girls on American streets may appear to be selling sex voluntarily, but they’re often utterly controlled by violent pimps who take every penny they earn.

From johns to judges, Americans often suffer from a profound misunderstanding of how teenage prostitution actually works — and fail to appreciate that it’s one of our country’s biggest human rights problems. Fortunately, a terrific new book called “Girls Like Us,” by Rachel Lloyd, herself a trafficking survivor, illuminates the complexities of the sex industry.

Lloyd is British and the product of a troubled home. As a teenager, she dropped out of school and ended up working as a stripper and prostitute, controlled by a pimp whom she loved in a very complicated way — even though he beat her.

Americans often think that “trafficking” is about Mexican or Korean or Russian women smuggled into brothels in the United States. That happens. But in my years and years of reporting, I’ve found that the biggest trafficking problem involves homegrown American runaways.

Typically, she’s a 13-year-old girl of color from a troubled home who is on bad terms with her mother. Then her mom’s boyfriend hits on her, and she runs away to the bus station, where the only person on the lookout for girls like her is a pimp. He buys her dinner, gives her a place to stay and next thing she knows she’s earning him $1,500 a day.

Lloyd guides us through this world in an unsentimental way that rings pitch perfect with my own reporting. Above all, Lloyd always underscores that these girls aren’t criminals but victims, and she alternately oozes compassion and outrage. One girl she worked with was Nicolette, a 12-year-old in New York City who had a broken rib and burns from a hot iron, presumably from her pimp. Yet Nicolette was convicted of prostitution and sent to a juvenile detention center for a year to learn “moral principles.”

Our system has failed girls like her. The police and prosecutors should focus less on punishing 12-year-old girls and more on their pimps — and, yes, their johns. I hope that Lloyd’s important and compelling book will be a reminder that homegrown American girls are also trafficked, and they deserve sympathy and social services — not handcuffs and juvenile detention. 

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