This is a story from one of our project workers in Ghana - it might a bit difficult to fully understand why they couldn't do more in this situation. We would encourage you to read right to the end, and to see that ending child marriage is something we feel passionately about.
To put this in a bit of context: The Freedom Challenge supports many projects that educate girls and teens, which means they are less likely to marry or have children when they are young. We also support projects that rescue and restore girls who have been trafficked or abused. And with your help and support we can do so much more!
'We were driving on a dirt road in a tribal area in north Ghana when we passed a guy on a motorbike who had stopped on the side of the road. He was struggling with a girl who was riding with him. Our driver, a Ghanaian worker with OM, immediately stopped our car and got out to see what the situation was.
Struggling to get away
While I was sitting in the car watching the commotion unfold, I saw the girl. She struggled to get away from the man. She couldn’t have been older than 13.
After five minutes, our driver told me to come take video and pictures of the situation. From maybe three feet away, I was up close and personal to a man who was taking this girl against her will to be married in another tribe.
The girl was hysterical. She kept her arm covering her eyes and cried out the same two words over and over. For the entire time we were there—40 minutes—she was in a state of delirium.
Then, our driver took the man’s motorbike keys in hopes of getting more answers. The man admitted that the girl was being taken for marriage to a boy around her age, although it’s not uncommon for young girls to be married to much older men. The detailed beadwork in her hair and the jewelry she wore signified that she was prepared beforehand by someone, possibly her parents.
Child marriage is illegal in Ghana, but there were no police anywhere nearby to help. Our only choice was to give the keys back to the man and watch him drive off. Our driver called another project worker to intercept the man in a nearby town for further engagement, but the man with the girl never drove by.
Broken cultural traits
I’ve been struggling with this experience. What is wrong? What is normal? My western culture is screaming “WRONG, INJUSTICE, OPPRESSION” and so on, but it was clear that the man had no scruples about taking the girl. In his eyes, it was normal. Yes, all cultures have broken traits.
Is this part of the man’s culture just another example of a “wrong” trait?
Is child marriage wrong?
What makes it wrong?
Maybe what makes it wrong is that the girl is not being loved and valued as a human being in the way that Jesus taught us to love one another.
So how do you tell a people group who have accepted forced child marriage as being ‘normal’ for countless generations that what they’re doing is wrong?
The girl’s captor must have been thinking, “Why is this guy making a big deal over a girl? Why is today so different than any other day of taking girls to their new husbands?”
That’s where the Gospel comes in. That day was different because the man’s encounter was with a follower of Jesus - someone who radically loves and values all people. What will it take to mend this culture’s generationally broken condition? The answer is Christ; the shining light of Jesus into the darkness.
The truth is that to stop forced child marriage from happening requires action from people who are capable of praying, giving and going.
Pray for her. You’ve know a little of her story now. Intercede on her behalf. Pray for her husband and her community, that Jesus’ message of hope and truth would resound.
Give generously to ministries that are dedicated to sharing God's love to the lost.
How amazing would it be to see a culture who, for generations sold their daughters as child brides, now condemn it because one person came and told them that Jesus loves and values all people?'
We want to thank our project worker in Ghana for this story.