By Brian Jennings
The story repeats over and over, but the horrific shock remains. Hopelessness highlights every page. The words are different, but every chapter sounds the same.
Local authorities, teamed with a local minister, storm the gates of Hell (in this case, a brothel). As usual they find a houseful of trafficked children. Heartless clients rent them by the hour. Unspeakable abuse smears the pages of their hearts. The darkness of the night pales in comparison to the darkness in the children’s eyes. Some look horrified, like they just arrived. Others look cold and jaded.
Laws permit the authorities to rescue the children as long as they have a suitable place to take them. So they rescue the girls, but leave the boys.
Many people don’t know about the 400,000 trafficked boys in our world. We hear about the girls—and we are truly grateful that awareness and care for them has emerged—but boys are seldom mentioned. We assume that boys aren’t victims. Boys can fend for themselves.
Some people know about trafficked boys, but they lack the resources to help. “I’m already caring for 30 orphans, what in the world would I do with a boy who’s been so traumatized? How could I ensure that the abused would not become the abuser?” they painfully ask.
Globally, there’s no room at the inn for boys. There’s not even an inn.
These boys all have a story. They may have been kidnapped, been tricked, run away from an abusive home, or faced homelessness. Regardless of the cause, despair, abuse, and helplessness drip off of the pages of their book.
The story must change is the rally cry of Blackbox International. We exist to bring help and healing to sex-trafficked boys. Founded in 2010, we are committed to developing a holistic, duplicable model of care for trafficked boys. Without a working model from which to learn, lots of work needed to be done.
After three years of research, prayer, and planning, we opened our first home in the Dominican Republic. In the tiny, Caribbean country 15,000 trafficked boys live. As tourism explodes there, trafficking issues will worsen. Unfortunately the Dominican is one of many destinations for men wanting to sexually abuse boys.
The first boy to enter a Blackbox home is not yet a teenager. Soak that in for a moment. I have two boys, ages 12 and 10. I weep at the thought of them being tormented in such ways. I can’t fathom how their damaged souls could move forward.
Loving, Dominican house parents welcomed the confused and wounded boy. Soon others joined him. Counselors, trained in the therapeutic curriculum developed by Blackbox, meet with them throughout the week. A carefully chosen educator holds class at the house. The boys receive healthy meals, clean clothes, and a secure environment. They draw, run, and play. And everything is done in the name of Jesus.
A snarky friend of mine once complained that Blackbox should operate separate from any religion. I responded, “Are you suggesting that boys who’ve been raped, drugged, and beaten for half of their lives can be helped without the power of God?” He admitted that the boys probably needed a miracle in order to find healing. I chose not to point out that my friend needed a miracle too. We all do.
As the first home fills to a dozen boys, Blackbox, in partnership with Central India Christian Mission, is working toward the opening of multiple homes in India. Half of the world’s trafficked children live in India. Currently no place in the massive country exists for a trafficked boy to receive the help he needs. We intend to change that, and we are thankful for the large number of flourishing churches there who desire to respond to injustice.
It’s hard to read very far in Scripture without seeing how much God cares for the oppressed, neglected, and forgotten. I plead with God that we will see Jeremiah 30:8, 9 become a reality in the lives of these boys:
“‘In that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will break the yoke off their necks
and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. Instead, they will serve the Lord their God
and David their king,
whom I will raise up for them.’”
We pray for the day in which new chapters will be added to the stories of trafficked boys: stories of healing, stories of hope, and stories of purpose. These stories will come, because Jesus is the great healer. He knows their suffering and offers real hope. So we pray that upon graduation, Blackbox boys will run, not limp, into their world. We pray to develop godly men, ready to fulfill God’s purpose in their lives.
We have reason to be optimistic. The Dominican Blackbox home is proving that this model of care is effective. Awareness is spreading like wildfire. Warriors are on their knees. Partnerships are forming. God is on the move.
You Can Help
If you want to help, pray. Pray for God to give wisdom to the Blackbox team. Pray for the 400,000 trafficked boys. Pray for global awareness and action.
If you want to help, spread awareness. Educate yourself and become a voice for trafficked boys. Talk to your church, your colleagues, and your friends, and share about Blackbox on social media (blackboxinternational.org).
If you want to help, give. Volunteers drive Blackbox, but we still must pay for a rental home, food and clothing, as well as paying the salaries of our Dominican house parents, counselors, and educators. Has God resourced you or your church to give?
For too long there was no room at the inn for boys. The story must change. The story is changing. And you can be part of the change.
Brian Jennings is on the Board of Trustees for Blackbox and is Lead Minister for Highland Park Christian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma (brianjenningsblog.com).
How to Become a Monster
“What kind of a person could do such a thing? Monsters!”
We can’t help but be dismayed by the people responsible for atrocities committed against children. These people are vicious, scheming, and ruthless. Monsters. Surely their childhood dreams did not consist of trafficking kids for profit. How did they get there?
Proverbs 5–7 provides stern warning against sexual sin. It tells of a foolish lad being enticed by a prostitute. It seems like a night of fun, but horror creeps in the shadows. “Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7:27).
Fools assume they can safely nibble on a crumb of sin. But soon the snare clamps shut. The pain is worse than they ever imagined. They should’ve seen it coming. “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire, and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14, 15).
So how does one become a monster? a trafficker? a slave owner? It begins with one unchecked sin. But there is good news: God forgives and heals. If a monster like Paul can come to salvation (Acts 9), so can anyone.
Deal with your “little” sins now. Pray for those entangled. Warn them in love. Cling to God’s grace. In the end, the real monster, the devil, will lose the war. Good will triumph. Jesus will reign.
It’s not just a battle in the realm of trafficking. It’s a battle in the heart.