The eyes could not be averted. The ears could not be covered. Dr. Patricia Bailey could not avoid noticing the agony playing out right under the world's nose.
Girls, many of them not yet teenagers, are being sold by their fathers into prostitution and pornography rings in the devastated southern Africa country of Angola; some girls even give up their own bodies for as little as a bowl of rice a day.
Nearly 40 of these innocent victims die every month. By age 12, many have acquired sexually transmitted diseases and had two or three abortions.
“Some things you do just because they're right,'' says Bailey, founder of the Angolan Girl Project, which raises funds – through the sale of Bailey's recent book Women Risktakers – that go toward training and educating Angolan women so they can escape the cycle of calamity that awaits them.
Bailey's organization is using the money to purchase safe houses and turning them into places of refuge in towns outside Rwanda. The refuge centers offer girls health care and women career opportunities education so they don't have to return to their former way of life.
“It's not enough simply to take them off the streets,” says Bailey, who is an author, lecturer, missionary and founder of the Global Leadership Training School in Winston-Salem, N.C. “We also bring them to (North Carolina) and train them in such things as literacy, environmental sciences, waste management and water purification.”
Bailey is passionate about the project in large part because she has witnessed the destruction caused by what she describes as economic desperation.
“What's happening there is not cultural. It's a means of survival,” she says, explaining that men sell their daughters into prostitution not because of societal tradition but out of economic hardship. “Angola is the second largest oil producing nation in Africa and also one of the largest diamond producing nations ... but the people are exploited every day, so it's like there's not any wealth there. It just doesn't get to the people.”
There are several factors working against the impoverished. Portuguese is the national language, which creates a barrier between Angola and the English-speaking world. That wall of communication keeps the people's plight from reaching the international media.
Also, Angola remains scarred by the effects of 25 years of civil war between the government and nationalist rebels. In 2001, near the end of the war, about one of every 350 people was an amputee – one of the highest ratios in the world. Nearly 1.5 million Angolans, almost 10 percent of the nation, were forced to flee the country. The war raped the nation economically, too.
From a Christian perspective, rebels singled out missionaries at the beginning of the war in 1975. Many were martyred. The country is mainly Catholic, but there is an odd mix of Christian belief and indigenous religion woven through the religious community. A lack of trust is pervasive in both the secular and non-secular worlds.
“For years, the government kept things hushed up, and people remain afraid to talk,” says Bailey. “The major oil companies are pumping crude oil out of there 24 hours around the clock, but the cost of living is so high and there's no means to find work.”
It all adds up to making money however you can, which partially helps to explain how fathers could sacrifice their daughters, Bailey explains. That fathers would do such a thing, however, means that women do not trust men in Angola.
“We don't want (the project) to seem like it's just a women's thing,” says Bailey. “We want men to rise up and help with our building projects, to show that ‘Here, this is what a real man of God is like.’ We want to redeem and restore the whole trust in the male gender.”
Mainly, though, Bailey wants the emphasis placed on the young girls who have no way out other than through outside help.
“Proverbs 31, verses 8 and 9 say that we cry out for those that don't have a voice,” she says. “Angola is just one nation. More than 10 million in the world are sold into slavery in one year. That's why I'm saying we must rise up and do something about it.”
Bailey sees herself and others as instruments of God to bring hope to those with none. She refuses to remain quiet while the world watches with eyes half closed, and she remains confident that God will do a mighty work in Angola.
“When God opens the door it will be heard, and that way nobody but him will get the glory,” she adds. “This is my challenge, to anyone logging on to Crosswalk. They have a mandate before them: you can avert your eyes and turn a deaf ear, or you can decide to do one random act of kindness and preserve a life.”
The ministry of Dr. Pat Bailey has created tremendous impact for more than 20 years in over 100 countries around the world, bringing deliverance and salvation to countless thousands. Dr. Bailey is a lecturer, author, and founder of Master’s Touch Ministries, a mission outreach that has headquarters in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and London, England. MTM has also founded Y.U.G.O. (Young Adults United for Global Outreach) and Sister to Sister, an international outreach to women in foreign countries. She is also the founder of the Global Leadership Training School in Winston-Salem, NC. To contact Dr. Bailey go to: www.MTMintl.org.
Women Risktakers, Dr. Patricia D. Bailey’s second book, exemplifies extraordinary faith feats from women of the Bible whose common denominator was their willingness to become a risk taker for God. It is available at www.christianbook.com