March 2021 Cover

FRM Newsletter

March 2021: CARTEL KIDS

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In the 21st century world of God’s work, new responsibilities continue pouring through the doors of Far Reaching Ministries. The latest comes from south of the U.S. border, where there is an accelerated crisis among the many poor women and children in Mexico. Specifically heartwrenching, are the little girls who are being sold to men in their 30s, 40s and 50s, who especially prefer girls who are 9, 10 and 11 years old. Girls are bought like worthless trinkets, stripped of their childhood and innocence, and taken away to be abused for the sole purpose of a man’s perversion. As Americans, most of us cannot begin to understand how a parent could sell their own child.  Yet, endless hopelessness and poverty drive desperate people to do desperate things. Often, the mothers do not want to sell their daughters, but the fathers relent, saying, “We need this money.”  My team and I were recently back in Mexico. We spent time at one of the many dilapidated-housing communities, where we experienced the squalor far too many people live in with no other option. These dwellings are basically metal shacks with dirt floors.  There is no running water or electricity, no indoor bathroom, and cooking is done outside, on an open fire.  When we arrived, the local children came out excitedly to see who was coming. I could only find one adult because all the others were in the fields working. We began to hand out cookies and candy, which were received with big, happy smiles.  I was told about three young girls who used to come and listen to missionaries who would teach Bible studies. Then one day, these girls disappeared. When asked where they were, the response was, “They’re gone.”

No other explanation was ever given. In reality, these children were most likely sold to a cartel, where they will be forced to beg for money on the streets. Not only are parents selling their own children, but countless others are also sold to the different cartels. When they are considered old enough, which is generally determined by when a man will pay for them, they are sold into prostitution—robbing them of any chance at a normal life.  To understand how a parent could sell their own child: adults and older children work 10 to 12 hours a day farming—to only earn about $6 a day. If the whole family works, they can earn up to $10 a day. Endless poverty takes a terrible toll on people. Most are exhausted from working long days, with endless amounts of hard labor in scorching weather.  They have no energy left to care for their family when their day is finally over. Often people see drinking as their only escape from their lives of misery and poverty; not to mention their chronic state of malnutrition.  All of this makes it hard to even think or reason properly.  There is no justifiable excuse for such horrible atrocities against children, but the harsh truth is that this is happening every day.  One of the families that we have committed to sponsor is that of a woman we will call Maria (we often change names to protect people’s identities), who has seven children. She found out that her husband had been raping their 14-year-old daughter over a two-year period. The daughter was too scared to tell her mother, but the truth finally came out when she began to show. When Maria found out about what was happening to her daughter, she contacted the police and her husband fled to Guadalajara. He was a violent drunk and had also beaten his young son so severely that he is now crippled and walks with a pronounced limp. The son’s eye was beaten so badly that it filled with blood, and when the skin healed, it covered most of his eye. Due to his condition, he is not able to get a job, so he hikes into the wilderness every day and cuts down small trees for cooking and sells them as firewood. A few years later, Maria’s husband called her and said that he wanted to send her 1,000 pesos. She agreed, so he told her where he was. She contacted the police; he was arrested and is now serving 25 years in prison.  Maria shared with us that at one point, she wanted to kill herself, but the responsibility of caring for her children kept her from taking her own life. I have experienced a lot of unimaginable trauma serving as a missionary in war zones, but the story of Maria and others changes you. You cannot hear these stories and not be moved to take action; I cannot turn off my moral compass. As the hands and feet of Jesus, I am committed to supporting this family for as long as He calls me to do so.  In the area where we are working in Mexico, the cartel has a terror grip on the people and their livelihoods.  One of our full-time missionaries serving there told me about a couple who opened a small roadside hotdog and hamburger shack that became very popular. The cartel showed up and told the couple that they had to give them a percentage of their profits every month.  The couple explained that they did not earn enough to pay the percentage, so the cartel shot them. They not only killed this couple, but also 13 other poor business owners. They were all killed on the same day to send a bloody warning to the community that you only get one chance to comply. If you do not pay, you will die.  Working in these types of conditions will have difficulties, but rescuing children far outweighs the risks and dangers.  Whenever I do Christmas outreaches in Mexico, I bring bags of dog food because everywhere I go, I see starving dogs. You see the pain in their faces and emaciated bodies. They often have mange and are missing most of their hair from malnutrition and some have open wounds. In the U.S. it is rare to see a dog that looks so miserable, but in Third World countries, people often do not have enough to feed themselves, much less a starving-stray dog. It is hard for me to see an animal in such misery, so I take time to set food out for them in various locations. The dogs are so starved that they will fight if I put it all in one place. As they are being fed, they look at me as if they are wondering where this kindness is coming from. Most have never experienced compassion. Often after eating, they will begin wagging their tails and slowly approach me. I will pet them and talk to them. Truthfully, I wish I could pull them all out of this life of pain and give them a home where they can feel loved and cared for. If an animal needs to be fed and loved, how much more a priceless child?  A child should not be robbed of their innocence, feel scared, hungry, and unsafe. We cannot do this alone, I need the help of the entire Body of Christ. Together, I believe we can rescue many from the clutches of hopelessness.

Working in Mexico is dangerous, but I do believe that there are things in this life worth risking your life over.  The care and protection of women and children is at the top of my list.  At this time, the Lord has called Far Reaching Ministries to come alongside this family and other families with tangible love and support. To sponsor one of Maria’s children, or one of the many others, kindly mark the enclosed gift card accordingly. You may also contact our office by phone at (951) 677-4474. We will then send you a photo of one of the children to pray for. The cost to support each child is $50 per month. As for Maria’s son, we are sending him to a plastic surgeon to repair his damaged eye. As always, as the Lord provides, we will care for as many children as we are able to.

Wes Bentley
Far Reaching Ministries