The church and its witness: answering the call for help
By Rev. Marie Sol Sioco-Villalon
To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, do not refuse to hear me.
Reflection: In the course of my serving victims of human trafficking, I receive many phone calls and Facebook messages from Filipino migrants asking to be repatriated. I will never forget, in particular, three women who had been trafficked in Malaysia. For a number of months, they repeatedly begged to be rescued from their sex traffickers, who had forced them to work without salaries and food, until they were able to escape though the help of church women. I remember a single mother whom we helped recover her seven-month-old baby girl, sold by the father for $100. I remember two young women who cried for immediate help because they were being made to work for 19 hours daily without salary. After four months of struggle and prayers, the Lord rescued them back to the Philippines.
Every time that I listened to their cries, I could not help but be reminded of the words of David in Psalm 28. It is as if the calls for help from Filipino migrants were anticipated by David as he prays for God to graciously hear and answer him in his distress and affliction. I discern their faith in their search for help as clearly as David’s faith in times of trouble: the Lord is his rock; God is the place where he can hide and be safe.
And when at last these migrants return home, I see that the joy in their hearts is not so different from what David felt when God answered his prayers.
Action: If you think you have encountered a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 888-373-7888, open 24 hours a day/seven days a week. In cases of emergency, call 911.
Prayer: O God, deliver all trafficked persons from modern-day slavery. Help us hear their cries with your ears, and see their pain with your eyes. Help us answer with the hands of Christ. Amen.
Rev. Marie Sol Sioco-Villalon is a clergy member of the United Methodist Church in the Philippines, serving as program coordinator and national-in-mission for Victims of Human Trafficking, Overseas Filipino Workers, and their Families.
This year’s A Season of Peace resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues like human trafficking and sustainable development, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the days of this year’s A Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect on:
- Peace that passes understanding: personal testimonies of faith and peace within self, within families, within communities
- Partners in peace: interfaith work for peace and justice, building peace between us while witnessing to peace in our wider world
- Peacemaking and practice: stories and reflections on building bridges and crossing divides
- Go and see: reflections from travel study seminar participants
- The church and its witness: reflections on addressing trafficking in its varied forms
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 2, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 7.