Tag Archives: International Justice Mission

Thoughts on Gary Haugen’s “The Locust Effect”

Over 2 billion people live on less than 2 dollars a day. If you doubled the population of the United States you would have the number of people who live on less than a dollar a day. As Gary Haugen points out, if you are reading¬†The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence (Oxford, 2013) or are reading this blog, you are not likely to be a member of the extreme poor. And if you aren’t a member of the extreme poor you probably wish you could do something to improve the lives of the most impoverished. The poor need clean water, food, housing, jobs, affordable healthcare, and education among other things.

But Haugen says all of those needs pale to a greater need: the need to stop the plague of “lawless violence.”

Opportunities for education, jobs, healthcare, quality food and water will evaporate or will not be accessed if poor do not have protection from violent forces–security, law enforcement, and a just judiciary.

The book challenges the reader to stay with the problem of poverty and violence as it travels across the globe to recount story after story of vulnerable men, women, and children whose governments fail to (a) protect them from sexual violence, bonded labor, property theft, and (b) defend them or seek justice after becoming prey. Frankly, it would be easy to either turn away from this problem since it is too large for anyone to solve or to just keep offering some form of help (food, water, job creation–all of which are needed and good!) without confronting the epidemic of violence.

Sexual Violence

There are many forms of violence a poor person can face. Their livelihood, home, and communities can be destroyed. But sexual violence doesn’t just take those things but also eviscerates the soul. Haugen recounts that in some locations as many as 68 percent of girls report experiences of sexual abuse. Some 6 to 11 million individuals are trapped in the sex trafficking industry. Some 1 billion women are known victims of sexual abuse. For most readers, this is not new news.

But consider for a minute that somewhere’s between 6 and 50 million people (Haugen tells us to read that as MEN) pay for sex each day. Remember that buying sex is likely supporting violence (pimps, prior sexual abuse, etc.). Look at the problem of sexual violence a different way–the percentage of men who have EVER paid for sex ranges from 15 percent to 85 percent (depending upon the country).

Sit with that number for a bit. You want to stop sexual violence? Yes, we need law enforcement willing to investigate and charge sex offenders. Yes, we need a judiciary system willing to provide justice through convictions and sentencing. But, if we really want to stop sexual violence, we have to deal with demand side of the equation.

Trauma the Multiplier of Violence and Poverty

Gary’s book addresses some of the colonial roots of violence in the developing world (i.e., government and law enforcement built for the ruling/colonial class, not for the local population). While I have not finished the book, I’m wondering about how he sees the impact of trauma on this whole problem. As most recognize, traumatized people tend towards learned helplessness and thus are much more vulnerable to future violent acts against them. And Haugen acknowledges this problem, if briefly (pp 105-106). He identifies the fact that “unrestrained violence” leads to traumatic reactions that will hinder the capacities to take advantage of available resources.

While all true, the problem of trauma is likely causing problems not just for the vulnerable poor but also effecting the entire system (police, judiciary, and government). Trauma often causes individuals to stop thinking of the future. Instead, individuals make impulsive, self-protective decisions that may hinder future opportunities (e.g., drug use stops triggers but harms future health). The same can be true of systems (bribery to survive now, but destructive to safety and stability.

The book ends with a number of ways to address the problem of global violence so make sure you read to the end. But I encourage you to think about ways to respond to BOTH trauma and faith deficits. Check out the work the Trauma Healing Institute as an example of grassroots, lay level response to these two problems.

1 Comment

Filed under Abuse, trauma, Violence

Year-end giving opportunities for trauma recovery


Just a few days before the end of 2011 some of you may be considering year-end charitable giving ideas. You may not 11.5 million dollars to give away (like Google did to orgs like IJM!) but every dollar counts. Below are some of my suggestions if you are looking to give to trauma recovery efforts both here and around the world. I am absolutely sure there are many more good places that are excellent choices than I list here but I include my favorites and you can feel free to add your favorites in the comments section. I also admit that the first two choices might just directly benefit the work I do.

1. Trauma Training Ministry

A. Biblical Seminary. Yes. Biblical Seminary is involved in global trauma recovery efforts. Readers here will remember my posts about our trip to the DRC and Rwanda this fall. We will be launching trauma recovery training in 2012 (continuing education and graduate studies) by the summer. Look for more info on this site. Read Biblical’s December 2011 appeal letter by me sent to Biblical’s friends and family (sorry didn’t have a pdf version with letterhead). Gifts will support training costs and research.

2. East African Trauma Recovery 

A. She’s My Sister. The American Bible Society is using Scripture to engage individuals and communities suffering through the trauma of ethnic violence, especially women having been raped in the region. Their trauma healing workshops trains pastors and local leaders to be trauma healing facilitators in their own communities and in their own language. I can attest that those who go through the trainings are both active in giving away what they received and changed by what they learn. Click the “give” button on the side and choose how many women you wish to help.

B. DOCS Hospital. A medical ministry providing needed surgeries to women with fistulas as the result of rape in the DRC. They are doing fine work there and are serving many women who cannot control their urination without the repairs being done.

3. Domestic Trauma Recovery

A. The Place of Refuge. A counseling ministry to North Philadelphians. Specializing in trauma counseling work. I have known Elizabeth Hernandez since we first met in a counseling class in 1988. She is a fine woman, expert counselor, and an upright and godly person. Donations to Refuge will absolutely extend their ministry to many abused individuals.

B. GRACE. GRACE is a ministry to educate the christian community about the scourge of sexual abuse. GRACE is also involved in providing direction for victims of abuse and in bringing light to abuse cover-ups. As a board member I can attest to the fine work GRACE does with those reaching out for help in knowing what to do in preventing and responding to abuse in Christian settings.

4. Global Recovery Efforts

A. International Justice Mission. They may have received a large donation from Google for work done in India but they are fighting for freedom and justice for enslaved peoples around the world.

Whether you choose one of these fine ministries or one of your own, consider giving to trauma recovery projects this year.

1 Comment

Filed under Abuse, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Uncategorized

DRC/Rwanda Trip: Day 8

Tuesday, October 18, 2011, Kigali

Today is our first relaxed day of the trip. We begin the day by having devotions with the staff at IJM. Josh led them in some thoughts from the book of James on themes of justice and justified. The Apostle Paul illustrates the payment (transaction) for justification found in the cross. James points us to the evidence (receipt) of our justification found in our works that prove we have been justified. There is no faith without works.

After devotions, we went to a very American looking cafe to have coffee and to go

Good coffee good colleagues

over the conference plans with IJM employee and counselor Baraka Unwingeneye. She and Josephine Munyeli (WorldVision) are our co-laborers and without them we would not be able to do this work. Our planning helps us nail down tomorrow’s conference efforts. We know we have good ideas for days 2 and 3 but we must be flexible and alter what we want to do for what can be done well.

Walked back to Solace for lunch and then out for a stroll of nearby streets with Carol. Just prior to dinner we received a visit from Rev. Nathan Ndyamiyemenshi at ALARM. He took us to see their retreat property on a lovely hill on the edge of Kigali. A beautiful spot for anyone who would want to take a group to Rwanda. One of the buildings had a plaque stating that it was a donation from Calvary Church of Souderton!

On the return to Solace, we stopped off to by Rwandan coffee beans to bring home. Speaking of home, I am getting homesick. While it is good to have a restful day, I am ready to get on with our conference and go home. Good that we start tomorrow.


Filed under counseling, Rwanda, trauma

Trafficking and Abuse Conference: Next Steps?

Posted at the conference website are a list of “Top Ten” next steps you can do following the conference. The point is not to be hearers only but also doers. Most of us aren’t going to be in the rescue business like IJM and probably most of us won’t be doing 10 years of intensive therapy with complex trauma victims. BUT, we all can do our part. So, even if you didn’t attend the conference…you can do something. As Bob Morrison said…”if you have no experience, no money, and no time…then you are perfect to be doing something about the problem of trafficking.”

DVDs can be purchased here.

The conference ended with a panel discussion. I was the emcee and collected a large grouping of questions. I won’t list them all here but let me give you the categories:

1. Victim questions. How to help as a counselor? As a pastor? What to do if you have been one and never came forward?

2. Church questions. Best policies to deal with offenders and victims? How to sensitize male leadership? How to address the problem of spiritual abuse?Aren’t victims who have sex with the pastor responsible, at least in part?

3. Spouse questions. What if you didn’t abuse your wife but she cannot tolerate intimacy? What is the best way to help as a spouse?

4. Offender questions. Can offenders be restored? What should the church role be? Are there any Christian offender programs out there?

Interesting set of questions. Good discussion. You can see the answers to some of these on the DVD.


Filed under Abuse, Biblical Seminary

Trafficking and Abuse Conference, Day 2

Continuing my reflections on our conference last week…

On Friday, Bethany Hoang of IJM and Diane Langberg of her own practice gave their 2nd plenary talks. Bethany explored some of IJM’s work in Cambodia and how a particular town/village (Svay Pak) has been transformed by the work of rescuing girls and shutting down brothels. One particular brothel was purchased by a church in the US and turned into a center for healing.

Diane explored the problem of domestic trafficking. We’d like to believe that most prostitutes get into the business on their own accord. But, Diane told us that 90% of prostitutes got their start as minors and with the “encouragement” of an adult. In other words, they were pimped…trafficked. She described the usual way this happens with vulnerable adolescent girls. The pimp starts off offering all sorts of gifts and love. These girls often come from homes with domestic violence, addiction, and abandonment. The “love” of the pimp is attractive. Later he manipulates her into prostitution after he has emotional control. We often think of this as a problem with internationals being trafficked into the country but all too often these girls are US citizens.

Diane left us with this quote which convicted us of turning a blind eye. In telling us that the only way we could not see the problem is to not look,

Whoever has the world’s goods, and sees another in need and closes his/her heart against them, how does the love of God abide in him?

In the afternoon, two other individuals gave presentations. Robert Morrison, founder of FREE (www.FREEtheenslaved.net), a grassroots group in Reading working to eliminate trafficking told listeners how they could be effective even without money, time, or experience. His presentation gave the following facts

  • While awareness of trafficking is increasing, prosecutions have not risen. Only 1% of trafficking cases are solved.
  • Trafficking is the fasting growing criminal activity in the world because, unlike guns and drugs, human victims are reusable
  • 4 forces fuel trafficking: huge profits with little fear of being caught (32B annual profits), an abundance of vulnerable people (1/3 of runaways are contacted by traffickers), a growing demand (porn and on-line ads), and a disconnected society (sees porn as “free speech” and resignation to the problem).
  • Average citizens can do something about 2 forces: speak up about demand and make a connection between porn and trafficking
  • Best practices in fighting this is building awareness, finding “networkers” and others who who people, find “trainers” who can educate on the problem. There are lots of resources out there to train law enforcement and others to understand the true problem
  • Also, start with direct influence. Ask stores that carry papers/mags that advertise sensual massages to stop their practice. In the Reading area, they were able to shut down 10 of these parlors which often have trafficked women in them

Bob handed out a free activism kit. Included was a DVD and brochures. The DVD is 12 minutes long and educates audiences to the key facts re: trafficking. These materials are produced by the US government and are free. You can get your own at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking/campaign_kits/index.html. Bob reminded us that 1/3 of victims are rescued by someone who was suspicious and took action to get help.

In my next post I’ll comment on Assistant DA Pearl Kim’s presentation. She provided us an intimate look into the world of trafficking and abuse from a prosecution perspective.

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse, prostitution

Trafficking and abuse Conference: Theology of Justice and violence to women

Over the next few posts I plan to highlight some good points from the trafficking and abuse conference. For those who didn’t make it, you can order the DVDs for only $9.95 total! Here is the form and here is the website where they are described. The website also advertises our next event in this lecture series (Dec 1-3, 2011).

Bethany Hoang of IJM opened the conference on Thursday night by reminding us that justice is at the heart of worship. It is not merely a social matter. Proverbs 14:31 pairs justice with worship and honor of God:

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

And Jesus tells us in Matt 23:23b that the “weightier matters” of the Christian life have to do with justice and mercy:

But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy, and faithfulness

(Later in the conference, Diane Langberg reminded us that complacency is complicity with those who are committing these crimes.)

Bethany went on to describe the historical rift between social action and conservative views of Scripture. The fundamentalism/liberalism debate of the early 20th century caused many to equate justice ministries with liberalism and is only now becoming more prominent in evangelical circles. Justice, said Bethany, must be grounded in Christ or else we will burn out.

So, we look to Christ. Where does he call us to join him? In dying to self. Bethany quoted Karl Barth here: Jesus calls us to live in the neighborhood of Golgotha, the neighborhood of death. Let us remember that our tangible efforts toward justice are to point to Christ and ought to reveal the character of God.

Diane Langberg spoke to the audience about violence to women. There are some very consistent facts:

  • 1:3 women experience sexual violence in their lifetime (1:6 men); 1:5 women experience rape
  • 5 million women suffer domestic violence every year in the US. It is the number one cause of injury in women 15-44.

The definition of genocide (from Rwanda) actually fits the data on how women are treated. When you consider gender-based violence (from abortion to murder, to rape, etc. ), more women have been killed in the last fifty years than people died in all of the battles of the 20th century put together. Approximately 100 million women are missing from the planet (per the Economist). In addition, the crime of genocide can be levied on those who are complicit, who do not act to stop this violence. Thus, are we complicit in the church for failing to adequately protect our girls and women. When we fail to identify and name evil for what it is, we are accomplices to a crime.

One of the most powerful parts of her talk was her review of how Jesus exhibited counter-cultural care for women. For example he,

  • had a woman traveling with him
  • allowed a woman of ill-repute to touch him
  • engaged in conversation with the woman at the well, another woman of sketchy background
  • completed his first miracle to bless the marriage of a woman
  • Did not condemn the woman caught in adultery
  • Had compassion on a gentile woman wanting some “crumbs” of healing
  • Provided for his mother with his final breaths
  • Had a woman be the first reporter of his resurrection

We fight in church about the role of women in ministry and about headship/submission. Maybe it is time to start addressing the matter of the dignity of all women and how men honor their head, Jesus Christ, when they act in ways that acknowledge this inherent dignity.


Filed under Abuse, Biblical Seminary, Christianity, Diane Langberg, Uncategorized

Last Reminder! Sign up now for our Sex Trafficking and Sexual Abuse Conference

Biblical Seminary’s March 17-19 conference on sex trafficking and sexual abuse in Christian communities is filling up. We have space for only 400 attendees. You do NOT want to miss a chance to interact with Dr. Diane Langberg, Bethany Hoang (IJM), Pearl Kim (ADA of Delaware Cty), and Robert Morrison (founder of FREE). If you have been thinking about attending this conference, sign up now. All the information you need about who, what, when, and where is found here. Registration is free and those who would also like academic credit or CEs can see what additional costs and work are required can use the previous link to get more information.


Filed under Abuse, Biblical Seminary, christian counseling, Christianity, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Save the Date! March 17-19 2011

Dr. Diane Langberg and Bethany Hoang (IJM) will be doing our next Conversations with Christianity and Culture seminar March 17-19, 2011 on the topic of sexual abuse in the christian community. They will also be speaking about sex and human trafficking.

This is a free conference at Biblical Seminary. I’ll post on-line registration information here when it is available but I’m tell you this now so you get it on your calendar.¬† You won’t want to miss their presentations.

We expect to offer CEUs for mental health providers for the conference (probably very nominal fee) and academic credit too (in the form of ind. study) for those wanting to do some further work on the topic.


Filed under Abuse, christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, counseling science, counseling skills