Nefarious I: Merchant of Souls

Tonight at Liberty Center, a couple Romanian anti-trafficking groups joined together to rent the theater and show the documentary Nefarious I: Merchant of Souls.  I found out about it just this afternoon and had a bunch of things to do–I had a bunch of posters to put up and am in the middle of packing for my move tomorrow–but this is one movie I knew I had to see.  (When I first heard about it two or three years ago, I knew I had to see it.  But by the time it finally came near me, I had moved to Romania.)

My initial response was feeling overwhelmed, disgusted, hopeful, angry, helpless, hurt, guilty… all at the same time.  It was a wild ride of emotions for sure as the documentary went all across the globe talking with all sorts of people, from former victims and traffickers to government officials and “johns.”  The stories were heart-wrenching.

Humans are created as royalty, children of the greatest King, but look at what we do to each other….

For a synopsis of the story, check out this blog.  It’s not the most well-written, but it gives the facts.

“Beer $4, Grapes $5, Girl $3.”  This is what the receipt read after a man had gone into a brothel in Cambodia doing undercover work.  A girl–and I do mean that in the strict sense of the word, as in a kid–for an hour, doing anything he wanted with her (just not sex)… had cost him $3.  That’s less than the beer.

Thankfully, the man was able to get three girls out of the brothel.  When he told them they had a place to take them where they could get a new life, they broke down into tears.  Sadly, though, the children had to go back because their parents refused to allow them to leave the brothel, stating they needed the money.  The $3 girls were returned the next day to join the 200 other $3 girls…  Oh, look what we do children of the King!

The most disgusting but poignant quote came from a former prostitute:  “Men who go to prostitutes are just masturbating inside women’s bodies.”  Think about that for a bit.  Isn’t it true?  The man is simply using the woman to relieve his own sexual urges.  And he’s using her like somebody uses an old rag or a Kleenex; use it up and toss it out.  She is no more than a tool to him, a commodity, not a person.

Towards the end, the movie spoke how the root cause (and thus the area to search for finding a solution) is not poverty or lack of education.  Wealthy people are not exempt from trafficking and sexual exploitation, and the poor are not so desperate that selling a child for sex could ever make sense (no loving parent would ever consider such an option if it was simply a question of money); similarly, for all our education and educating in the Western world, we face trafficking statistics just as sickening as elsewhere.  The root of human trafficking and sexual exploitation is not poverty nor lack of education but lack of God.

The movie handled this part masterfully, pulling in first-hand accounts of prostitutes, pimps, and trafficking victims whose lives were transformed when they met the love of God in Jesus, when they found new life as a child of the King.

I love this!  The plain and simple truth is that no amount of our programs, awareness-raising, noise-making, marching, picketing, etc, etc, etc. will amount to anything if devoid of the whole point:  Immanuel, God who came to be with us, to rescue us.  Amen, Nefarious guys and girls!  It’s about time somebody preached this message loudly and boldly.

For all that I liked about Nefarious, in spite of how well-made it was (both in the interviews as well as the dramatizations), I feel like it fell horribly short in the conclusion, as do many (perhaps even “all”) anti-trafficking videos that I’ve seen.

The video left me saying, “I want to do something, anything, for this cause.  What can I do?  Just tell me, and I’ll do it.”

And so the video told me… 1) pray for trafficking to end, 2) talk about the issue, and 3) give money to groups working out there.

Really?  Is that seriously all you’re going to offer me?  My fellow men and women are out there living through hell, and you tell me… leave it in God’s hands, discuss it over dinner, and pay the professionals.

Now, I know those are nice suggestions.  In fact, they’re more than nice; they’re quite wise, and there’s really nothing wrong with them.  But I long to see normal people empowered to do extraordinary deeds, and that isn’t going to come with three nice or even wise suggestions.

What about going out there and demonstrating love to a poor kid?  What about sharing the gospel with a prostitute?  What about giving your time, your food, your money to those most at risk?  What about quitting pornography, the seeds of sexual addiction and so of sexual exploitation?  What about moving to a dangerous area so you can be a light?  What about teaching young men to master themselves?  What about even tearing down pornographic posters or refusing them where you work?  What about visiting brothels yourself?  What about even learning a foreign language?  What about taking counseling classes, self-defense courses, or training in undercover work?  What about laying your life down for your fellow man whom you’ve never met?  Honestly, what about calling every Christian on the planet to step into the graveyard of sexual exploitation with the light, hope, and justice of Jesus?  Yes, some of my questions are impractical, difficult, unwise, will get you killed, will cost you, but what about simply loving as Jesus loves?

Christians are so full of knowledge about this topic; it’s time to get up and DO SOMETHING.  And it’s time to send out normal, everyday, screw-up, uncertain, scared, full of mistakes people to do the miraculous, powerful, significant, glorious restorative work of God in partnership with the Holy Spirit.

I may be a nobody, but I’m a nobody full of the presence of the One who has all power and authority in heaven and on earth.  If you’re a follower of Jesus, the same is true for you.

Now, tell us what to do.

Daniel 11:32 – “The people who know their God will display strength and take action.”

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