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John Gray

“Juxtapositions”, that’s what Megan named it. She was right. We were from wealthy areas. We were about to see a very different world. Our own children live in safety. We’d be told stories of horror – one was of unimaginable loneliness. Its sound track: a little girl screaming in absolute terror while her mother looked on, condoning the evil. It was Osec in a darker place.

The juxtapositions transported me back to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, a peaceful parkland sitting in the shadows Old Jerusalem. Two and a half millennia ago the valley was not so serene. Mums and dads sacrificed their children, alive, into flames. That’s what Baal and Molech worshippers did . The sound track … must have been children terrified. All within earshot of Jerusalem, City of Peace, God’s chosen fortress.

Ben Hinnom disturbed me. Osec turns my stomach. The LORD hates both and He is furious.

My belief that poverty was Osec’s base driver has been challenged. Most living in poverty do not “facilitate” live stream screenings.

Baal and Molech demanded their insatiable appetites be fed. Greed and lust are cruel and exacting gods. How else does a mother take money from a foreigner then watch and listen as her daughter begs for mercy? How else do we explain predominately western men consuming Osec? They have sisters, cousins and daughters, or friends who do, don’t they? Numbers of them live in my part of the world. Some might even attend one church or other … brutal juxtapositions.

This evil would be overbearing if not for the men and women who fight it.

I’m inspired by, and thank our Father for, IJM staff. Their work with law enforcement agents, legal professionals, mayors, school principals and local church leaders is rescuing children. Those resourced by IJM are empowered and are growing in confidence to confront the evil. With these comes success. The results are simply breathtaking.

Our team saw toddlers, Osec survivors, who just a few months ago were victims. Now, they live in a safe place. They laugh and play without a care. One was even so curious as to bowl up behind me and rub the top of my head to fathom a bald head. Amid giggles and joy older girls mimicked Janan’s rhythms on the Cajon box. I stood as if on holy ground, silent, caught in wonder, as 10 – 14yo survivors sang, “You turn my tears of sadness into such joy and gladness”. I then asked myself, ‘How often do you sing such words with the same gratitude and wonder?’ … salient juxtapositions.

To be sure the survivors’ journeys continue. But they have been rescued. They are being introduced to the God who is not cruel or exacting. He is compassionate and gracious, full of mercy and that covenantal love particularly on display in Christ. He is the Father to the fatherless (Ps 68:5) who also carries the poor, the orphan and alien close to his heart (Dt 10:18).

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