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Third-world horrors popped up recently in Cleveland.
"So many of us have this mindset that human trafficking and slavery is a third-world issue, and it's not," says Cathey Anderson of Operation Mobilization. "It's here in our backyard."
Three women and a 6-year-old girl were rescued from a literal "house of horrors" on Tuesday. Neighbors broke in and called the police after they heard one of the women screaming.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight went missing between nine and 11 years ago. In 2002, Knight was thought to have run away. Berry vanished in 2003 after calling her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at Burger King.
The following year, DeJesus disappeared while on her way home from school.
The girls' families hoped for the best and held annual prayer vigils in their honor. But the fate of Berry, DeJesus and Knight was one worse than death: They were all kept as slaves in a rundown Cleveland home.
"We can't close our eyes any longer," says Anderson. "This is a reality that we are living in."
If denial is no longer an option, how should Christ-followers respond?
First, Anderson says, "We need to acknowledge that spiritual warfare is very real, and it's a battle we all need to engage in. Number two, we need to educate ourselves. We need to be aware of what's going on in our community."
Those who claim to follow Christ also need to examine their personal lives and habits, Anderson adds. According to the Women's Rights and Services division of Brigham Young University, 47 percent of Christians say pornography is a major problem in the home.
It's not just a problem for the men, however. One in three visitors to all adult websites is a woman, and over 9 million women access adult websites each month.
"We have a personal responsibility to clean up our own house before we can even begin to address the needs of the community and society as a whole," says Anderson.
In addition, studies have found that extensive viewing of the type of pornographic material commonly sold at adult bookstores is linked to a higher willingness to commit rape or other forced sexual acts.
Pray for purity as you engage in this battle. Praise God for the miraculous rescue of these women. Pray for those in oppression who still need to be saved.