During this Covid-19 pandemic, most of America and other countries are practicing a shelter-in-place order to protect people from the spread of this deadly virus. Local government leaders have encouraged us by saying that it’s “safer at home." For most people, this is true. But for some, it has not been safer to stay at home. There has been a 20% rise in domestic abuse globally. “I’m in coronavirus lockdown with my abuser” is being reported in the UK, Latin America and every country that has been locked down. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has seen a spike during the pandemic across the US.
Sadly this is not the only kind of abuse that has been on the rise during this pandemic. The sexual abuse and cyber-trafficking of young children has also been spiking. The National Sexual Assault Hotline said they have received a 33% increase in the number of calls in March and 50% of those calls were from minors. 79% said they were living with their perpitrators. That was just in the United States. In the Philippines, which is the center of the cyber sex trafficking world for children, 7 minors were rescued recently ages 3-14 (yes, you read that correctly). Just a few days ago in Cebu, 4 women and another child was rescued from a cyber trafficking ring, while another 10 women were rescued from a spa.
With the alarming rise of abuse and even trafficking happening during this global crisis, we must not forget these victims in our prayers and in our acts of loving support. I had the honor of seeing the start and growth of Restore Children and Family Services, based in Cebu, Philippines. It was started by some dear friends of mine after seeing the number of minors being sold and exploited online in Cebu to customers logging in from all over the world; most of these customers are from wealthy, Western nations. I’ve been having monthly prayer meetings via Zoom with the Restore staff and wanted to pass on some key prayer requests to you.
- Pray for the protection of these children who are oftentimes living with the one selling and abusing them.
- Pray for the safe house workers who are under increased stress with the pandemic forcing them to not leave the homes. Some of them are caring for several children who are still processing the trauma they endured.
- Pray for provision for many of these vulnerable families as they are oftentimes living in poverty themselves. Restore has been able to bring some much needed food and other necessities in recent days. Cebu is under much stricter lockdown measures, but Restore was given special permission to visit some neighborhoods to distribute food and toiletries.
- Pray for the children who were in the middle of counseling and care, but due to the lockdown, they are unable to meet with their counselors. It is an added stress for them on top of the trauma they already endured.
- Pray for the financial provision of Restore and other groups as this pandemic has hit many NGOs and nonprofits hard with a decrease in financial giving. If you would like to give to Restore and provide much needed support for their work with young children and survivors of trafficking, you can give through their website.
There are many important things to be praying for during this special season. God has given us time and space to pray these prayers. I ask that you remember to pray for those who are vulnerable in their own homes. Dear Church, let us pray.