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All Posts in Japan

May 21, 2019 - No Comments!

Striking Contrasts

ZOE Japan

It was twenty years ago that I visited Japan. A sensory overload of magical sights and sounds - I can still picture it vividly to this day: the bustling cities, quiet temples, bright cherry blossoms and the breathtaking mountain views from bullet train rides.

It was in Japan that I first learnt how to use chopsticks properly and, whilst in Kyoto, I developed a love of okonomiyaki (a meal I still enjoy with my own family).

In Japan, I experienced unforgettable teppanyaki performances with chefs who did egg tricks and I even attended a sumo wrestling match one night. I saw people in the street wearing geta and had my photo taken with young people in the (mind-blowing) Harajuku fashion district.

Japan felt populated yet orderly, traditional yet extremely modern. It was a place of striking contrasts.

As part of a group of travelling teachers, I visited Japanese schools and saw many famous sights, but also had the opportunity to visit someone’s home and take a peek into a-day-in-the-life of a local person.

With opposing emotions, we soaked in the beauty of places like the golden temple, while tears flooded at seeing the devastation whilst visiting the memorial museum in Hiroshima.

From the simulated earthquake experience, to the Japanese baths - this trip blew my mind in so many ways!

As an outsider, what I didn’t see then, and what I didn’t even know existed, was the dark and hidden pain associated with the child trafficking scene in Japan.  

Because it is not driven by targeting poor communities, like in many other countries, child trafficking looks different in Japan.

Japan is a destination, source, and transit country for men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, and for children subjected to sex trafficking” – Trafficking In Persons Report 2018

Hiromi and Yuri are ZOE’s on-the-ground missionaries in Japan. Here is an excerpt from Japan’s Needs are Unique where they share about the situation in their country.

Japan’s human trafficking problem is made up of sophisticated and organized prostitution networks that target vulnerable Japanese girls in public areas such as subways, popular youth hangouts, schools, and online.

Due to pressure from their parents to be successful or conform, traffickers prey on children who are craving love and affection. Traffickers camouflage themselves to be a scouting agent for modeling jobs, and sometimes even a potential boyfriend/girlfriend. Before a child realizes it,he/she is victimized to appear on various pornography outlets and forced to do other sexual services. They are in bondage to the trafficker who places on them an unreasonable debt and vows not to release him/her until the debt is paid. They also know all of the child’s information, including parents, friends, school, etc.

Japan is a country that is economically blessed and our physical and material needs are always taken care of, but the voice of children crying out for love and affection is drowned out by the noise of parents and society.

One thing we can all do for the children of Japan is PRAY!  Needs are great in Japan. Not necessarily physical or material needs, but spiritual need is crucial. This is why ZOE is passionate about doing prevention work in Japan through sharing the love of God in Christ. We believe that we can make a huge difference and bring light to children’s lives through Jesus.

ZOE Japan’s main goal right now is to prevent trafficking through education in churches, schools, and communities by bringing awareness about the problem in Japan.

Prevention is part of ZOE’s long term solution to ending trafficking worldwide.

March 11, 2019 - No Comments!

Longing for Home

ZOE International
By Lori-Ann Tsang

I’ve been contemplating the concept of “home” lately. What are ways we try to make a place feel more like home? In thinking about the structure and physical building itself, unless you are an architect or a builder, your first chance at this happens after the structure has been built and is completed. We bring in furniture, plants, rugs, shelves, and other personal belongings to help us feel at home.  

Long before any plans were drawn up or the first brick was laid for our ZOE home in Thailand, our leaders, planning team, and architects began thinking about this concept of “home.” They knew the building itself would need to be unique and special because of its purpose. It would be place where children rescued from human trafficking could feel safe, secure, and loved…a place they could call home.

The inside is beautiful and very livable!! I love the layout and the building very much. I want a house like this of my own, someday!"

~ Recently rescued youth about ZOE Thailand’s Child Rescue Center

So much planning, prayer, and preparation goes into the building of every structure on each ZOE campus. It is done with love and care, knowing that it will have a far-reaching impact on the precious children who come through the doors.

This reminds me that we have a perfect home being prepared for us. One that is beyond our wildest dreams. “... looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10, NIV).

Find out more about our newest HOME being built in LA: https://gozoe.org/our-work/los-angeles/

December 6, 2018 - No Comments!

What’s In a Diagnosis?

By Jessicah Ray, PA-C

Why is a diagnosis of human trafficking important?
Human trafficking is internationally recognized as a public health problem with over 40.3 million victims identified, and with one-quarter of those being children. (Dovydaitis, 2010, Fink-Samnick, 2018).

In response to this global epidemic, hospitals and clinics are joining the mission to end human trafficking as the intercessors and advocates of the most vulnerable by improving diagnostic skills (Andrews, 2018). Because 86% of human trafficking victims are in contact with health care providers during the time of exploitation, multiple health initiatives are being launched to train providers how to identify human trafficking patients, safely report the abuse, and who to contact for intervention resources. (Dovydaitis, 2010). Health care providers have the critical opportunity to intervene by identifying the cause of the abuse with the correct diagnosis, treating the acute medical conditions, and developing a treatment plan with a specialty team. (Dovydaitis, 2010).

An unexpected tool of medical coding (ICD-10 codes) is now aiding the effort to combat these crimes against humanity. To better identify human trafficking victims, specific ICD-10 T codes have been produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and released in October of 2018 (American Hospital Association, 2018; Fink-Samnick, 2018) to enhance the accurate identification and diagnosis of human trafficking, and to distinguish from other diagnoses such as domestic violence, prostitution, or child abuse.

Why is the correct medical code (ICD-10) important?
1)    Special care: Human trafficking victims are at increased risk of chronic injuries, complex psychological health problems, and social/legal considerations that warrant long-term multidisciplinary care and comprehensive resources. With the proper diagnosis, those care options are more readily available through established response protocols and automated referral systems.

2)    Informing Policy: Human trafficking statistics are notoriously underestimated due to underreporting, misdiagnosis, and the victim’s inaccessibility to health care. Medical codes are used to quantify and validate the needs of patients to better inform health policy where and how funds should be allocated. Data from these codes drives the financing for the needed prevention, rescue, and restoration resources.

Where should you go?
The American Hospital Association (2018) provides a complete list and guide for the new ICD-10 T codes:

What else can I do?
Multiple resources are available for multidisciplinary professionals to learn about human trafficking and improve identification, treatment, and response protocols in their hospitals and clinics. Consider joining an anti-trafficking organization or committee such as with Health, Education, Advocacy, and Linkage (HEAL) Trafficking: https://healtrafficking.org/.

References
American Hospital Association. (2018). ICD-10-CM coding for human trafficking. Retrieved from https://www.aha.org/icd-10-cm-coding-human-trafficking-resource

Andrews, M. (2018, July 24). Hospitals gear up for new diagnosis: Human trafficking.National Public Radio. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/07/24/631517533/hospitals-gear-up-for-new-diagnosis-human-trafficking

Dovydaitis, T. (2010). Human trafficking: The role of the health care provider. Journal of midwifery & women's health55(5), 462-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmwh.2009.12.017

Fink-Samnick, E. (2018, September 24). Human trafficking: New ICD-10 codes empower efforts to identify and aid victims. ICD10monitor. Retrieved from https://www.icd10monitor.com/human-trafficking-new-icd-10-codes-empower-efforts-to-identify-and-aid-victims

Heal Trafficking. (2018). Homepage. Retrieved from https://healtrafficking.org/

August 24, 2018 - No Comments!

Sowing Tears Into Japan

Last month, ZOE Japan sent their very first Japanese short term missions team to ZOE Thailand. Below is a beautiful testimony of one of the members that joined the trip.

I left ZOE Thailand having shed tears, yes. But the tears I shed were not the tears I expected. Psalm 126:5 says that those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy. It was as if I got to experience the reaping of the tears sown at ZOE. I’m convinced ZOE Thailand has sown countless tears over many years and the reaping of joy overflows to bless even the short term mission teams like us who come.

During the weekly prayer night they have had for over a decade, I began by praying alone before the Lord. Not too long later and to my surprise, I felt two precious hands rest upon my arm. I opened my eyes to see two little girls praying for me. The love of Christ is tender…

Outreach with ZOE to over 250 kids that arrived from surrounding villages – theme: anti-human trafficking. A gut response was to think “are these kids old enough to be learning about these “adult” subjects?” But this is their potential reality: either learn about it or fall victim to it. It was humbling and inspiring to see the ZOE ministry school students and the Child Rescue Center staff inform the kids about anti-human trafficking while loving them and having fun with them. The love of Christ is just…

As an engineer, I was particularly intrigued by their near self-sustaining capacity. From their growing medical and professional counseling capabilities to their extensive agricultural endeavors, ZOE Thailand touches almost every corner of life. Yet all of their capabilities are rooted first in Christ. The gospel isn’t just for Sundays but builds communities that become cities on a hill to shine for the nations to turn. The love of Christ is thorough…  

I am grateful for what I experienced at ZOE Thailand. I will carry the experiences of tenderness, the zeal for justice, and the thorough reformation of the love of Christ back with me to Japan, where God has called me and where my heart is. Knowing the tears of Thailand, the taste of joy was ever so sweet, but I desire to sow tears into Japan; the tears of Psalm 119:136 – “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law,” and ZOE Japan still needs a flood of tears before Japan will begin to reap with shouts of joy.

 

July 25, 2018 - 1 comment.

The Power of Prayer

“Men always ought to pray and not lose heart,” Luke 18:1

Jesus spoke a parable about a persistent widow that pleaded for justice without giving up and got justice from an unjust judge.

He then said, “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.” Luke 18:7-8

When you are faced with the situation of human trafficking both domestically and globally, it seems like there is nothing you can do to bring justice into the situation or fight such vicious evil. But just recently, God reconfirmed that we as Christians are given a powerful weapon from The King to fight even human trafficking.

Since January 2018, we at ZOE Japan have been going out into the streets of Machida, Tokyo to do prayer walking regularly.

We walk through the busy neon hotel streets. If we see or feel something is off, we stop and pray. We continue this work while trusting that God would bring His justice to the evil and freedom to the captives. Soon, we discovered something interesting happening in the town. In February, the month after we started our walks, we discovered from a local news article that one of the JK businesses (joshi koukousei, Japanese for high-school girls) in Machida was shut down due to the arrest of a man who made underage girls work for sexual services. Publicly, the business was legitimized as a service where teenage girls taught older men how to use smartphones. In reality, these girls were chosen by a customer via an online site to go to a hotel together and the girls’ subsequent income was through sexual services to the customers. Even though this kind of business is hard to expose since their office is just an intangible online network, Japanese police made an effort to track them down and were able to arrest the manager leading to the girls being rescued. This happened right in our neighborhood, the very hotel streets where we always walked through and prayed! We cannot physically go to all the places we want to, but our prayer goes out to every corner of the streets and buildings, every hidden place and unseen heart. God showed us how powerful our prayers are, to plead for justice, and how we should never cease to pray because our God is a just, merciful, and loving Father who cares for His children.

June 6, 2018 - No Comments!

The Real Enemy

by Yuri Yamamoto

We at ZOE Japan, often go out to the downtown streets to pray for the city, people, and children. We believe that prayer is the first thing we always have to start with if we want to change something, especially to end human trafficking. Human trafficking exists in Japan, as well as in other countries. We know as a fact that not everyone willingly chooses to work in the red light district.

One of the nights during our prayer walk, God brought to me one middle-aged man who was sitting down in front of a train station. As we talked, he slowly shared his life story with me.  His mother is very ill and always in the hospital, his liver is in a critical condition that he could die at any moment, he does not have any friends that he can talk to, and amongst all of his struggles, has AIDS. He shared that it was because of his past lifestyle of many unsafe sexual relationships and having gone to many brothels in the past.

He said, “I will die alone like an animal. There is no hope or joy in my life.” Listening to how miserable he feels about life really broke my heart. I felt the urgency to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with him. I told him how Jesus came to die on the cross to forgive him and to wash his sins away. He refused at first saying, “No! I have done too many sinful things that shouldn’t be forgiven.” He also rejected my offer to pray for him. So I continued listening to him and shared God’s words about how much God loves him and wants him back.

After talking with him for a while, he started trusting me more and allowed me to pray for him. After my prayer, he had a BIG smile on his face and said “It is impressive how you prayed for every little detail that I shared with you tonight. I hadn’t had a conversation with anyone in forever!” He thanked me numerous times and told me he would go see his mother in the hospital the next day and tell her about the things I shared with him.

How wonderful it is to pray for people like him and see the change in his heart! Meeting him reminded me that our real enemy of exploitation is not people, but the one who blinded this man’s eyes and kept him captive for many years.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” -Ephesians 6:12

Please join us in prayer for many people like him and ZOE Japan missionaries as we continue to go out and share the love to Jesus as well as the Good News! We want to see the change and be God’s instrument to bring true freedom to this country!

May 22, 2018 - No Comments!

Japan’s Needs are Unique

As we face the problem of human trafficking among Japanese children, we discovered many problems related to sexual exploitation, such as force of appearances for pornography and other sexual exploitations. The background is different from other countries that are havingissues of sex trafficking due to poverty. The situation in Japan is quite unique.

Many parents tend to put children under pressure for them to be academically successful. “Success” means to get good grades and get into a good university, which then will lead to a successful career in the future.

In Japan, there are an estimated 34,288 reports of missing children and young people from teenagers to those in their 20s in 2016. Family relationships seem to be a main cause for this.  There are cases where children are being neglected by parents as well. “Trust” and “security” are missing in the relationship between parents and children.

There is a famous Japanese proverb that says, “Deru kui wa utareru” (the stake that sticks up gets hammered down).  It means “if you stand out, you will be subject to criticism.” In schools, children are under the constant pressure to act and behave in the same way as others around them. There is risk of being bullied if a child chooses to do something unique or different from the majority of the group. This is a very exhausting friendship children face in schools as well as society.

There is a lack of encouragement, someone to say “you are valuable the way you are”

around these children. Traffickers prey on these children who are craving love and affection. Sadly, the strategy to coax those into trafficking is similar to those in other countries.  Traffickers camouflage themselves to be a scouting agent for modeling jobs, and sometimes even a potential boyfriend/girlfriend. Before a child realizes it,he/she is victimized to appear on various pornography outlets and forced to do other sexual services. They are in bondage to the trafficker who gives them an irrational debt and proclaims not to release him/her until the debt is paid. They also know all of the child’s information, including parents, friends, school, and etc.

Japan is a country that is economically blessed and our physical and material needs are always taken care of, but the voice of children crying out for love and affection is drowned out by the noise of parents and society.

What do Japanese children need?

  • Loving and caring parents (adults) who accept and value them for who they are
  • Biblical counseling that can help children to make better decisions in life
  • Biblical truth and teaching about sex that God has designed

One thing we can all do for the children of Japan is PRAY!  Needs are great in Japan. Not necessarily physical or material needs, but spiritual need is crucial. This is why ZOE is passionate about doing prevention work in Japan through sharing the love of God in Christ. We believe that we can make a huge difference and bring light to children’s lives through Jesus.