For almost three months, countries across the world have slowed down, gone inside, and held their breath. In cities from New York City to London to Buenos Aires, activity has been pared down to what is “essential” –– communities are asking themselves, “What can wait until we’re safe again?”
Jane Caldcleaugh, a Haggai leader in Argentina, knows that for a young woman trapped in sex trafficking, rescue cannot wait.
After attending the Haggai Leader Experience in 2012, Jane returned home to Argentina to continue her church’s work with vulnerable families. That is when God opened her eyes to the scourge of sex trafficking and gender violence that sprang up from these communities.
Two years ago, she opened “Paths for Justice,” a prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation program for victims of sex trafficking. Since 2018, more than a dozen women have completed this program.
“Compassion is key in carrying on with this ministry, feeling for the misery of those caught up in this system of modern-day slavery, seeing through the eyes of Jesus who came to set the captive free and bind up the brokenhearted.”
On February 27, just before shelter-in-place orders went into effect, more than 300 volunteers went into the red light district to pray over and connect with prostitutes in an area that Jane says has been “abandoned by authorities and society.”
Even without the complications of a pandemic, the work is difficult. Law enforcement is often lax or complicit when it comes to prostitution, and much of the country’s sex trade is tied to organized crime. Add to this the trauma experienced by victims, and the task of rescue and rehabilitation would appear nearly impossible.
But Jane knows that when you are committed to God’s work, the rewards far outweigh the challenges.
“Trusting in God, leaning on His Word, persisting and moving ahead without losing sight of the goal, you begin to see young women rescued, transformed, and healed. Then they become wounded healers for others.”
In her work with those trapped in the sex trade, Jane has learned that economic instability makes marginalized young people even more vulnerable to human trafficking. Like many countries, Argentina’s economy has been devastated by the COVID-19 shutdowns, and Jane knows that this is no time for her ministry to slow down.
“[Our] ministry is increasing in influence during this time of the coronavirus: connecting, networking, sharing, and ministering.”
A generous donation at the beginning of 2020 has allowed Jane’s shelter to continue accepting women even as the country is shut down. In addition, they have been able to take in and care for a family of Venezuelan refugees.
“I do a lot of networking with other ministries… distributing boxes of food to the vulnerable in our church neighborhood, the elderly, and women in prostitution in the red-light district. We are networking with other Haggai leaders to provide food to needy families in other areas of the country and have provided hand sanitizer and face mask materials to the Salvation Army.”
It may seem as though all of the world is holding its breath, but Jane (and thousands of other Haggai leaders like her) continue to push forward for the sake of the Gospel.