Chapel Speaker Updates on Operation Blessing
By Amanda Morad
January 9, 2013
Beginning a series on "The Least of These" at Regent University's weekly chapel services, David Darg, vice president of International Missions for Operation Blessing International (OBI), gave a hopeful update on Wednesday, Jan. 9, regarding the organization's efforts.
Highlighting work in Africa and Asia, Darg expressed gratitude for Regent's partnership with OBI in several global efforts to advocate for and rescue children in poverty or slavery. "You are very much a part of all this," Darg said. "This is a multi-ministry campus and we're grateful to be part of the same vision."
Darg first reported on OBI's work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a fierce and devastating civil war rages in the Eastern part of the country. In the midst of it all is OBI's Dina Center, home to 150 young girls who have been sexually abused by rebel soldiers. "Sexual abuse of women and girls is endemic in Eastern Congo as this war rages on," Darg said. "It's commonly said that 9 out of 10 girls under the age of 18 have been sexually assaulted in the Congo."
The Dina Center provides sanctuary and healing for these girls in addition to education and life skills for adulthood. Darg has visited the center on multiple occasions and has even gone on rescue missions into rebel territory to retrieve young victims. "These girls have been living in a nightmare all their lives," he said. "When they get to the center, it's the first time they've ever been out of that horror."
Darg told the story of a seven-year-old girl named Esperance—"Hope" in French—who was abused so badly that doctors told her she would never be able to have children. "That's pretty much a death sentence in this culture," he explained. "Women who can't have kids don't have much hope for the future because no one will marry them." Yet Esperance's future is brighter than ever. Darg showed a video of the girl's joyful laughter just days after arriving at the Dina Center.
He also reported on work being done in Burma to trace and rescue refugee children being sold into slavery in Thailand. The Karen people, driven out of Burma by a genocidal civil war, have lived in refugee camps on the border of Thailand for 60 years. Now that the borders are reopening, 7 million Karen people are returning to a Burma with no infrastructure or means to thrive.
"They're coming back to a land that's literally completely jungle after living in camps and being provided security and food," Darg explained. This lack of resources has left them vulnerable to traffickers who appeal to their poverty by offering their children work in Thailand. What often results is young children being sold into the sex industry or as slave labor in Thai factories.
OBI works to trace these children and return them to their families in Burma, and then address the needs of the Karen people to help prevent further trafficking. "We're providing infrastructure and security and relief for these people so that families aren't forced to sell their kids into slavery," he said.
In closing, Darg encouraged Regent students, staff and faculty to be proactive in their involvement with OBI. "Our doors are always open," he said. "We love partnering with Regent and we're always looking for new ways to change the world."
The chapel service comes days before Regent's Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law hosts the second annual Social Justice Symposium, which focuses on issues involving child trafficking, child welfare, adoption and juvenile justice both in the United States and around the world.
Register for the symposium.
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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations
Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888