Jenette Jadloc-Carredo is Aftercare Development Lead for International Justice Mission in Cebu, working to stop one of the darkest crimes in the world: the online sexual exploitation of children. She explains how her faith gives her the courage to face the darkness, and how prayer is powering change.
Growing up in the Philippines, I thought that justice was only for people who had power. Stories I heard showed me that justice was only available if you were connected to powerful people. I remember feeling so helpless in school when a friend confided in me about her experiences of abuse and told me that she would not report it as the suspect was known to have “powerful connections”.
My friend’s experience is common across the world. Right now, five billion people – more than half the global population– live in a “justice gap”, outside the protection of the law. This means that if you experience violence or injustice like slavery or sexual abuse, there is no-one to help. It’s extremely unlikely that the law will protect you or hold your abuser to account.
During that conversation at school, God stirred a passion in me. I wanted to fight for a world where violence against vulnerable people is stopped.
Stories I heard showed me that justice was only available if you were connected to powerful people.
For the last nine years, I’ve been working for International Justice Mission, supporting survivors of child trafficking. I work alongside them to help them achieve their goals – whether that’s going back into education, testifying in court, or advocating for change. Currently, my work focusses on the online sexual exploitation of children. This horrific crime involves sex offenders from places like the UK paying to livestream the sexual exploitation of children over the internet.
One of the things I find desperately difficult about my job is that most victims are very young: the youngest IJM and local authorities brought to safety was just two months old, and more than half of the children are under 12. What makes it even worse is that most perpetrators are close relatives, often even their own mothers. When children are rescued and tell us what has happened to them, we hear the darkest stories. It’s so easy to become disheartened.
I frequently wrestle with God: “If you really care, why did that have to happen? Father God, if you really intend for us to prosper and not come to harm, why is this happening?” I don’t have answers. But I do have hope. I have hope when I see survivors learning that the things that have happened to them do not define them. I have hope when I see IJM’s partners within government, police, and the courts working with us to seek justice for vulnerable children. To date, we have helped bring over 847 children to safety.
The youngest victim IJM and local authorities brought to safety was just two months old, and more than half of the children are under 12.
One set of siblings I worked alongside decided to pursue justice by testifying in the case against their mother who abused them. For many years, they had prayed that their mother would stop but she never did, until the day they were brought to safety. They realised, they said, that although their prayers took a long time, they were eventually answered.
Stories like this give me hope that God hears prayer. And if they are able to hope, how can I not? Whenever I feel discouraged or challenged, I think of survivors I know and how they have still managed to see God in the darkest times of their lives. There is light; there is hope; there is God, listening to me wherever I am. God listens and he’s there.
Not all those I work with are able to change their lives right now. But this gives me more motivation, because I have trust and confidence in God that even the simple act of texting them and showing up, even if they won’t reply, will go miles. God is at work in the small things to bring about miraculous change.
I have hope when I see survivors learning that the things that have happened to them do not define them.
I also believe that prayer can literally move mountains. To many, prayer feels like a small thing – but it is actually very big! At IJM, every day begins with “stillness” – 30 minutes of private prayer. Even after nine years of doing this every morning, I continue to find it very hard to be still! But time and again it makes me more productive in my work, helps me focus, and encourages me to give the weight of the day’s tasks over to God. Right after stillness time, the whole IJM team comes together for 30 more minutes of prayer. We are a community; we are not alone in this fight, and together we lift one another up, praying for survivors, and for upcoming operations. Prayer brings comfort, but it also brings change.
Over the past few years, my understanding of justice has completely transformed from what I believed as a child – no longer is it just for people who have power. Now, I know that it is the work of Christ. I love being Christ’s instrument to his people in the work of justice, because I see lives transformed, systems changed for the better, and survivors who are stepping out and using their voices for transformation.
I love being Christ’s instrument to his people in the work of justice, because I see lives transformed.
Doing the work of justice is not always bright and easy. Not all stories are success stories. But it is these stories that push me closer to becoming dependent on God, because I must lift them up to him. My prayer is simple: “You are God. You are the King who can do anything. This is beyond my control; you are the one who sees ahead. Please help. Amen.”
International Justice Mission partners with churches and individuals in the UK to support its global work. Find out how you and your church can get involved with God’s movement for justice at IJMUK.org.