What makes someone worthy of being free?

Today I have met a couple of inspirational people.

The Director of Not for Sale Japan.

And a soon-to-be-missionary to Japan from Texas.

And we have talked and talked and talked about the situation here in Japan. The situation of human trafficking. The situation of the sex industry. The situation of laws that fail to protect the vulnerable. 

The situation.

And the response of a small charity that has a big vision to lobby the government until change happens.

The more meetings I go to in this beautiful country, the more dots connect for me, and the more my heart breaks wide open when I think about the vulnerable young people of Japan. 

Literally breaks wide open.

And I need to warn you that today’s blog post will be quite hard hitting. Because it will be honest. And the honest situation is quite hard hitting.

I will try and keep this concise, but let me give you an overview of the situation here.

Japan has a huge problem with human trafficking. You might not have heard about it. You might not think it. But it does.

Every year the US State Department grade it as a Tier 2 country in their TIP report. That means the Japanese Government’s laws and efforts to protect victims or prosecute human traffickers is insufficient.

Insufficient.

And some of this industry is built on the foreign women, or foreign workers forced into prostitution or ‘technical internships’ (forced labour), but Japanese victims are increasing as well. Many of these are runaway girls who end up prostituting themselves to find a place to sleep. Enjo-Kosai is now a means for girls from abusive or poor families to survive. 

There are loopholes in the laws here. Big loopholes.

Because you can’t legally purchase sex. But ‘sex’ is only legally defined as full intercourse. Sexual acts? They’re not sex. Homosexual acts? Not sex either. Situations where shopkeepers could ‘argue’ that the girl is simply engaging in a sexually relationship with a foreign ‘boyfriend’? That’s a grey area that you also might get away with.

And although there are still parts of Japan where a sex ring or trade ring is enforced by a gang culture, increasingly, social media is becoming the main tool with which people can buy and sell sex. In Japan, you can do a quick Internet search and pull up a number of websites where you can choose the girl who’d like to spend the night with in a similar way to how you’d order a Domino’s pizza. The really sad thing is that for many girls, this feels safer, because they feel in control of their own ability to sell themselves.

And in Japan itself, there are just not enough projects or available central funds to even begin to respond to this problem.

There is also an increasing concern regarding the large amount of Japanese male tourists buying sex in other East Asian countries through organised ‘tours’, and the way in which this finances a wider sex industry.

And then…. there’s the child pornography issue. Which is still ongoing. 

For years, Japan’s laws have failed to make the possession of child pornography illegal. Only the production and distribution is. Some of you may have read that this has been challenged in the last few months. However, this bill is currently at a hold up because it also suggests that the government should seriously research the connection between rising levels of child abuse, and the child pornographic images depicted through manga and ‘soft porn’. 

And that’s treading on major economic impact territory.

And again the link becomes clear. Why does a country sustain a multi-million yen trafficking industry?

Because it first sustains a multi-million yen pornography industry.

In 2012 there were over 1500 known child pornography cases revealed in Japan.

Just the ones known.

And just the ones defined here as pornographic.

But Japan also has a huge issue with ‘Junior Idols’ which see young girls auditioning to be an ‘Idol’ but actually forced to have quasi-porn photos or videos taken. These images are not defined as pornography here in Japan. 

But by international standards they are.

And I can’t help but think that by God’s standards they are too.

Heart.

Breaking.

Isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

Please let these things deeply, urgently affect you.

Don’t just read this blog and forget it.

Let it spur you to wrestle about these issues on your knees in prayer.

Because every one of these children. Every one of these women. Every one of these men. Is more than a nameless-faceless statistic.

They have names, and hearts and souls and dreams

And they are known and valuable to God.

Every one of them.

Every one.

Within the next two weeks, representatives from Japan’s Network Against Human Trafficking are presenting an excellent paper to the Chief Cabinet Secretary to request for further measures to be taken against human trafficking. This includes the establishment of a legal framework to coordinate policies and protect victims, the elimination of the ‘Technical Internship Programme’ which provides a cover for much human trafficking, better victim identification methods, protection and assistance, and wider preventative measures. 

I’ve read this paper and it’s bold, especially considering the present government response. But it’s a really great paper. Please pray for favour for this small group, particularly for those Japanese Christians who are a part of it. Pray that the Holy Spirit would prepare the way to release funds so that we can begin to develop work to rescue these individuals.

The title of this blog post is a line from an incredible poem called ‘Someone Free’ that Hosanna Wong performed at the Exodus Cry Summit in January. It’s long, and I’ve blogged a link to the video before, but today, I want to invite you to pray for this issue with me. And these words are some of the best I know to spur us to do that. Again it’s hard hitting, but I make no apologies for that. This is an issue that is hard hitting. And if you are offended by the truthful depiction of a heartbreaking reality, then I beg you to let that emotion spur you to pray.

And pray hard.

Because Jesus is the only one who can fix this.

 

What makes someone beautiful?

What makes someone valuable?

What makes someone worthy of being free?

What about the women stripped down of all dignity? What about created-to-be-daughters-of-the-King topless in store fronts, their value being tallied by the times their body is brought hourly?

What about the women strapped down to the backs of vans, the only time they’re touched is by buyers and sellers hands, passing them along like packages. The only time they’re kissed is being tasted upon by savages?

What about the women whose personalities must be split part, like their legs when someone is done purchasing them?

Because I can hear the women in captivity whispering, ‘I just don’t feel beautiful to me’.

But what makes someone beautiful?

What makes someone valuable?

What makes someone worthy of being free?

What about the women who weren’t stolen, but who were lured into this worldwide phenomenon? They thought it would be glamorous, but misplaced trust has led them into the hands of slavery.

What about the women whose Fathers, brothers and cousins took advantage of them, so now, their whole life they’re looking for other Father figures who’ll love them similarly? 

What about the children whose Mothers would rather live a life of luxury than protect their daughter’s virginity, or save their daughter’s purity, or defend their daughter’s chance of ever not hating their sexuality?

What about the sons and daughters, the innocent people who really don’t even think it’s evil, they genuinely just want to help their family?

Because you can hear the children in capacity whispering, ‘I just don’t feel valuable to me’.

But what makes someone beautiful?

What makes someone valuable?

What makes someone worthy of being free?

Because I’m wondering what God sees in the corners of Cambodia where Mothers are hoping they’ll have daughters so that they can sell them and live frivolously.

I’m wondering what God sees on the stages of Amsterdam where if no one wants to purchase them, the employers deem these women unworthy.

I’m wondering what God sees when this sick, disgusting sex industry so waters down that even modern day fashion makes it seem cute to dress sleazy. Where more skin is more trendy. Where provocative images on teen magazines is what’s selling.

I’m wondering when God sees our world in captivity, who does He think is worthy of being free?

Who does He think is beautiful?

Who does He think is valuable?

Who does He think is worthy of being saved from a worthless exterior, that satan has captured and relabelled ‘true identity’?

I’m wondering, was His blood just spilt selectively?

Was His blood just shed for those who we deem beautiful?

Who we deem valuable?

Who we deem worthy of being free?

Or when Christ said to love our neighbour, does that also mean the prostitute down the street? Does that also include the captured soul, stripped down and destroyed by teenagers overseas? Does that also include the victims of this modern day slavery business just blocks from me? 

Does that means that they are my neighbour and that now I know they exist here I have a responsibility?

Because underneath all these stories, no matter how they started, no matter how they ended, underlying is the same lie. The same enemy.

Creating trash out of what God created for beauty.

Creating lust out of what God created to be lovely.

Creating sin out of what God created to represent Him perfectly.

And the enemy is not just the institution. The enemy is not just the pornographic advertisement. The enemy is not just the misconstrued affection, used and abused, capitalisation of confused women.

No, the voice is also the enemy inside of us, telling us it’s alright if we do nothing

But Egypt your time is done!

Your chains have been overcome.

For Jesus Christ has come, to redeem our thinking.

For if we had hands like God’s, and arms like Christ, we’d reach far, we’d take every scar, and we’d never measure the length. We’d never hesitate. We’d never take the time to just think about it and wait.

We’d stretch so far we’d have stretch marks of faith.

Because some people only know the comfort of their chains. Some people think that God only looks like their abusive Father’s face. Some people don’t even know there’s a possibility of being saved.

Because they don’t know what we know.

That love isn’t something you pay for. Lust isn’t something you pay for. Sex isn’t something you pay for. 

Sin is something you pay for and that price has already been paid with the blood of a Saviour.

Whose arms stretch so far they strength through time with limitless, relentless, restoring grace.

Who in our world needs to hear that today? Who right beside you needs to hear that today? Who is your neighbour, beat up and bleeding, ignored and needing on the side of the way? Who is broken and in bondage, on that side of the world, or on this side of our street?

Because they are someone beautiful.

They are someone valuable.

Blood was shed because they were meant to be someone free.

Oh Jesus, you know, that for the sake of one, I would give up everything and come. It is true.

 

And these are the two inspirational women I have been with today 🙂

 

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