I have a special prayer request. A request that may seem strange, but I’m asking it with all of my heart.
In the last day and a half that we’ve been on Moldovan soil, the poorest country in Europe with the highest rate of human trafficking in the world, my heart’s been breaking … as it should.
“It seems so hopeless,” said one of my new friends from our Team Moldova here, with Children’s HopeChest during a debriefing early this afternoon. We’d spent the morning visiting the poorest of the poor here–families who had been affected by human trafficking, as well as single mothers. We’d seen how complicated it all is–poverty, human trafficking, corruption, desperation. Our hearts were breaking. As it should.
Some of what we learned these past two days:
– Moldova is a small landlocked country and out of a population of 3.5 million people, 300,000 people here have been victims of human trafficking.
– Thirty thousand Moldovan girls are missing. Let me say that again: 30,000 girls here just disappeared one day and haven’t been seen or heard from since.
– Some our team members visited a family today who had two daughters who were trafficked. Imagine.
The poverty here is so great, it’s understandable that people are looking for better opportunities elsewhere. We drove past a bustling parking lot today where people were picking up packages their family members had sent from abroad–from Italy, France and Belgium.
Today we also heard the story of a girl who’d responded to an ad for work in Turkey. When she got to Turkey, however, her passport was confiscated and she was forced to sew in a sweatshop all day. Then at night she was had to “work” in a brothel.
We’d heard how a family would sell a daughter even for a bottle of vodka.
People here are poor. Desperate.
And then we visited a single mom today—o, what a picture of strength she was. Her face radiant, although she’s had such a tough life.
Victoria greeted us at her door, saying: “Welcome to our palace!”
For her it, the two small rooms with a kitchen/laundry/bathroom constituted a palace. But she has an open furnace in her bedroom where she stays with her adorable seven-month old boy. She’s happy to live here, because it’s so much better than the places they’d stayed before. But she’s carrying her son around in her arms all day, because it’s too dangerous for him to be on the ground, near that hot furnace. I can’t even imagine it, to be honest. How sore her back must get. Her arms. Still, she’s happy and thankful.
“Her name is Victoria and she’s acting according to her name,” said Julia Ubeyvolk, founder of Beginning of Life. Victorious, indeed.
Before we left, I asked Victoria if I could pray for her boy. She looked so proud of him and told us, He’s a miracle boy.
When Victoria was pregnant with her son, she decided to have an abortion. The dad didn’t want to have anything to do with a baby. Plus: she already had a daughter and Victoria knew that if she got pregnant, she would lose her job and wouldn’t have money to pay their rent. So, she went to the abortion clinic and got prepped for the procedure.
But when she’d already had the anesthesia and could no longer talk, Victoria had a change of heart. She remembered her grandmother’s words to her—not to have an abortion. With her eyes only, she indicated to the doctor that she didn’t want to go through with the procedure. Miraculously the doctor respected her prompt and waited until her anesthesia wore off to hear whether she still wanted the abortion or not. When she came to, she was adamant to keep the baby.
No wonder Victoria calls him her miracle baby.
No wonder his eyes are so bright.
We were about to leave–we had already prayed with her as a team–but I felt compelled to ask Victoria if I could pray for her boy. I couldn’t help but imagine him as the future of Moldova. He can be part of writing a different story in this nation. I could hear the echoes of the Watoto kids when they say, I am the future of Uganda. I believed the very same for this little boy—the future of Moldova.
So, as we were driving back to our hotel this evening, after spending the afternoon with the girls at the Beginning of Life rehabilitation centre, a place where girls can go who had been rescued out of human trafficking, I was thinking about everything we had heard over the past two days. I was thinking about the statistics and the stories. I was thinking about the dreams the people at Beginning of Life have for helping transform this nation. I was thinking about how I could express some of what we’d seen and experienced.
That’s when I realized:
So many of you are praying for me and for our team, while we’re here. It’s strengthened my steps and my faith. I sincerely appreciate your prayers–more than you know. It was hard to get here and the days are intense. But, honestly, after what we’ve seen and experienced, I know I don’t need your prayers as much as this nation does.
Moldova needs our relentless prayers.
So, here’s my special request: every time you think of praying for me and our team, every time you see a tweet or see an Instagram update, could you please also pray for Moldova? Could you carry this nation on your lips?
If you need more words, here’s what I am praying:
– For poverty to be eradicated.
– For job opportunities for the people here.
– For entrepeneurs to rise up.
– For a restoration of the economy.
– For families to rise up out of poverty.
– For the churches here to preach a whole gospel.
– For the churches to grow strong and flourish.
– For a renewing of minds—that people’s minds will be renewed, so they can bust out of a poverty mentality.
– For global partnerships that will help–not hurt–the people of Moldova.
– Please stand with me in praying for Hope to be restored here and for the future leaders of this nation, like that little boy we cuddled today, to be groomed in Love, integrity and great purpose.
“The prayers of a righteous person avails much.” We know this. I want to remember this as we hope and pray for Moldova for the next several days and, if it’s still on your heart, beyond this week. We want our prayers to avail much.
Gary Haugen, president of International Justice Mission said this:
“We serve a God who cares deeply about the injustice and abuse that occurs around the world: a God who wants to see ‘justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.’ (Amos 5:24) Justice is central to the very nature of our God, and He has chosen to allow His people to be His voice for justice on the earth. Some are called to proclaim His justice through legal advocacy, some by caring for the suffering, some by teaching, and still others by prayer. Those who are willing to intercede daily for the cause of biblical justice are critical advocates for the weak and suffering in the world. In light of the immense need for advocated for justice, we recognize that our strength is not sufficient for this task. But our hope and strength come from the living God of Justice. We entreat His power to sustain our ministry.”
So, my request today is simple: would you hold the name of Moldova on your lips? Every time you think of me, our team and our work here—would you turn your thoughts and prayers to heaven on behalf of Moldova and her people?
Moldova … Moldova … Moldova.
I have seen the Berlin wall fall. I have seen Apartheid crushed. I believe we can be part of shaping history in Moldova, starting with our prayers.
Want to stay connected to what I’m up to this week?
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Thank you so much for walking, carrying and praying with me on this journey.
With so much Love, from Moldova.