Dr. Diane Langberg was stunned.
A psychologist who's spent much of her career working with middle-class abuse victims in the U.S., Diane was in Brazil in 2002 to train local Christian leaders on how to help victims of violence and sexual abuse. That's when a Brazilian pastor approached her and put the predicament of so many of his countrywomen in stark relief. In the small fishing village where he and his wife served, he told her, all the men were alcoholics, battered their wives, and sexually abused their daughters. "Can you tell me how to help my people?" the pastor asked.
"Never had I been confronted with such extensive abuse and a lack of resources," remembers Diane. She soon learned Brazil isn't unique. Across the world women are abused and sold into slavery in record numbers.
Confronted by the enormity of the problem, Diane started working with organizations including World Vision and International Justice Mission (IJM). Today she provides training and counseling to those on the front lines of the effort to rescue exploited girls and women in places like the Dominican Republic, Myanmar, and South Africa. TCW recently sat down with Diane to learn more about this global problem and how American Christian women can make a difference.
What did you say to that pastor in Brazil who asked you how to help his people?
After my stunned silence, I told him, "Your very presence in the village brings hope." He and his family demonstrate in the flesh that a different way of life is possible. Change will grow out of his very existence because no one can now say all the men are abusers and all the women are abused.1