It has been too long since I’ve had an opportunity to update everyone on how things are going. My life has only become more hectic since the last time I had a chance to post, but rest assured I continue working diligently to bring freedom and justice to all those held in bondage on Lake Volta. For this post, instead of a running narrative I decided that on this occasion I would give a short list of updates and and accompanying requests to pray.
- My first update is one of sorrow. Kaign Christy, our Field Office Director, went to be with the Lord on October 2nd while on furlough with his family in Arizona. Kaign was the leader of our office and a good man. The following is adapted from an email sent to our office by Blair Burns an executive with IJM in the United States. Blair wanted to let the office know about the entirety of Kaign’s career at IJM, and I would like to pass the same on to to you.
Kaign joined IJM in 2004 because he felt a call from the Almighty to enter full time Christian service. He became our first Cambodia Field Office Director, bringing his wife Jean and their two junior high school children, James and Lizzie, with him to Phnom Penh. Kaign built a team of young Christian professionals in a country that was largely without Christians and largely without professionals. They changed everything. By the time Kaign left in 2007, Cambodia was already on the road to transformation. When we closed the program in 2015, the prevalence of children exploited in Cambodia’s enormous commercial sex industry had plummeted to just 0.2 percent (whereas 2004 estimates marked prevalence at about 30 percent). In late 2011 one of our Field Office Directors in the Philippines left IJM suddenly, just as we were preparing to launch the Pampanga Field Office. Kaign took young Rey Bicol on as his Deputy and opened the Pampanga Field Office. He again built a strong team, and in three short years, they changed everything again. Pampanga saw an 86 percent reduction in children sold for commercial sex.
As we prepared to launch the Ghana Field Office, to end the slavery of tens of thousands of children on Lake Volta, our first choice was to send Kaign. Again, he responded to the call to go where he was most needed. For Kaign, this work of protecting the poor from violence is all about the coming of God’s Kingdom. Kaign spoke of the signs of the Kingdom was when he shared Mien’s story with IJM’s Board of Directors in 2010 (Mien is a girl who was trafficked by her parents into a brothel in Svay Pak, Cambodia – when we came to rescue her, she was not there – it took us another two years to find her and bring her freedom). As he was finishing her story he said this:
And the Church is at its best when it is a sign of the Kingdom. A sign does two things, points to what is coming and gives a little glimpse of what it is. Mien’s story gives me a little glimpse of the justice the King will bring.
When a brutal brothel in Svay Pak, Cambodia that sold six year old girls for rape is shut down, its owners brought to justice and its victims freed, it is a sign to me that the Kingdom is just.
When that brutal brothel is then converted into a community center for children who formerly would have been sex slaves in the same building, it is a sign to me that the King is good.
When a former victim in that brothel receives treatment for her trauma and loving care and now volunteers to help other at risk children in the same house where she was formerly brutalized, it is a sign to me that the King will make all things new.
We miss Kaign a great deal, and yet we take comfort in the knowledge that he has gone on to his eternal reward. Please pray for Kaign’s family, for our office, and IJM as an organization as we go through the grieving process.
- My next update has to do with my health. I came down with a case of gout. Yup. The gout. Definitely not fun. Apparently Henry VIII had gout, and so I now have something in common with him. Although, I suppose that if you’re going to have something in common with him, gout is one of the more preferable traits. To those of you who don’t anything about gout, allow me to educate you. It involves the buildup of Uric acid in your joints, and it usually presents in the joint behind your big toe. The pain was so bad it hurt to lay a bedsheet on my foot, I had trouble walking, and the swelling was so bad I couldn’t fit in my shoes. I went to a clinic, and was given a lot of drugs. My foot feels better now, but it still hurts a bit when I run. So, that whole experience was less than fun. Please pray that I will remain in good health, and have no more flare-ups of gout.
- We have begin the process of prosecuting many of the boatmasters arrested during our operations. While this is progress in the right direction, the entire process has been extraordinarily frustrating. Getting to court usually takes 2-3 hours, and quite a bit of logistical work to ensure everyone who needs to be there actually arrives. After all that trouble it is disheartening to arrive at court and be told that all the cases are adjourned for another few weeks. The victims cannot be returned to their homes until the prosecutions have been completed. Some of these children have been in aftercare shelters for months, and we would really like to get them home to their families. Thus, while we’ve come a long way, we have many miles yet to go. Please pray that we will make progress in our prosecutions, and restoring the victims to their families.
- As some of you may have seen on the news there was a massive explosion in Accra on Saturday, October 7. The first explosion was a natural gas filling station, that explosion spread fire to a nearby gas station which also exploded shortly thereafter. Everyone that I work with is ok, however there was a significant loss of life caused by this tragedy. The explosions took place about 1.5 miles from our house, so Saturday night was a little crazy. Please pray for the city of Accra, and for all those affected by this tragedy.
- I learned that my grandmother has become quite ill. She is 90 years old and has lived an amazing life. However, the doctors have explained that we are nearing the end of her time here on earth. Please pray that she becomes well, and that if its the Lord’s will that I can see her when I come home for Christmas.
- Finally, I have reached the end of the funds I have raised so far. I expected this, and I have enough money to take me into the new year. However, I will need to raise a further $11k-12k to be able to finish out my year. Accra is an expensive city, and our house has had to deal with some unexpected expenses. Please pray that the Lord will provide the money I need to complete my mission here.
*As an aside, the mailing address of Lasting Hope has changed, please see the bottom of this post for the new address.
So, that’s where things stand right now. I’m sorry that this update is a bit perfunctory, but I have been very busy. If you are willing, here are ways you can pray for me.
- You can pray that I trust God to lead me to wherever he wants me to go next, and that I don’t stress over it too much.
- That I will receive my passport back from the government in time to make it home for Christmas.
- That I will fulfill whatever mission(s) God wants me to accomplish during this deployment.
- That God will help me swallow my pride.
- That I be helpful and kind to my roommates.
- That I will remain positive throughout the coming 9 months.
- That I will be helpful and a source of energy to the office.
- That I would consistently look to God to guide my steps over the next 9 month.
- That in all things I will look to glorify God above all else.
Help Fund my Work
Should you desire to invest in the work I’ll be doing with IJM, there are two ways you can support me financially during my fellowship, which I am doing pro bono. Should you wish to make a tax-deductible donation, please make your check out to “Lasting Hope, Inc.” and put my name in the memo line. You can mail your check to:
Lasting Hope, Inc.
C/O Paul and Cathy Crafton
1194 Valley Reserve Dr.
The second option is to make a donation through my GoFundMe campaign. Please feel free to share this information, and this post, with anyone you think may be interested in following my journey.