Tim & Becky Anderson, Solid Brasil Initiative Directors, tell the story of trafficked boys reunited with their families through the response of God's Church.
It was a homecoming that could have been taken directly from a movie. Family members and friends lined the street, waiting for the arrival of their returning sons. The crowds' cheering filled the car as we approached the town. As the car doors opened, parents came running over with tears in their eyes. It was a reunion unlike any other I [Tim] have seen.
This moment was the conclusion of a two month long journey involving children who had survived human trafficking. We experienced the fruit of the Church body uniting together to love, care for, and support these boys on the journey back to their homes.
The boys had been approached by a trafficker posing as an agent for professional soccer clubs in São Paulo. He told the boys and their families he would make their dreams come true. He promised an opportunity to train, become professional soccer players, and make lots of money. The hook was set, the families paid the trafficker a large sum of money, and the boys took off to the largest city in the southern hemisphere.
Upon arrival in São Paulo, the boys found themselves in precarious living situations, their ID cards taken from them, and no big soccer clubs looking to sign contracts with them. The trafficker made them call home a number of times to ask for more money. As this played out, the boys realized things were not right. An anonymous tip to authorities led to their rescue from the situation before anything worse happened.
As we received news of the case, ABBA (Solidarity's partner in São Paulo) agreed to take these boys in, providing the necessary day-to-day care. The anti-human trafficking network we are connected to was contacted to share the situation and the current needs. This network of churches and faith-based NPOs began engaging the local and international church. God's Church was asked to step up, and they did. We were amazed by the way the Church gave of their time and resources.
The Church came together and tangibly cared for these boys so well. They provided for all their needs while in São Paulo and the journey back home, allowing unification with their families.
It is not often that the successful rescue, aftercare, and healthy reintegration of survivors of human trafficking happens as it did in this case. We are thankful for the way the Church responded and engaged in the lives of these boys. We are also hopeful knowing that the city of São Paulo and the horror of human trafficking can be transformed when the Church actively responds.