In a way that only a journalist could, Matt Roper, in Highway to Hell – The Road Where Childhoods are Stolen, tells the horrors he and Canadian county music singer Dean Brody discovered as they sought to expose the sex trafficking taking place along Brazilian highway BR-116, a road that traverses over 2800 miles near the eastern coast of Brazil. It is hard to identify the most difficult part of reading this book: the stories of the young girls, many starting between 9 and 11 years old, who sell their bodies to truck drivers and other strangers along this route; the realization that, in many cases, it is the mothers and grandmothers of these young girls who are encouraging, or forcing, them toward this lifestyle; the mentality among those in many of these communities that such activity is just a normal, acceptable pattern of life, perpetuated with each passing generation; or perhaps the fact that where people in power are aware of this situation, they often turn a blind eye to it, either due to the involvement of “powerful” or “influential” people, or due to the fact that the problem is so large, they simply wouldn’t begin to know where to start in order to combat it.
There are several reasons this book should be read. First, it is easy for those of us who live in very comfortable circumstances in America to assume that the rest of the world lives just like we do. Such is simply not so. Having been to 12 or 13 different countries on 5 of the 7 continents, I can attest to the fact that our living circumstances are certainly in the global minority. Second, where knowledge of such atrocities is available, ignorance of it can no longer be an excuse. Third, this work reminds us that our relationship with Christ not only impacts our own lives but also the way we view the world and the situation of others. If we truly love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves, we cannot be disinterested where precious image-bearers of God are being treated as nothing more than cheap commodities, currency for a moment of pleasure. Fourth, it is encouraging to read of a believer in Christ who takes His faith seriously enough not only to “believe” certain things about God, but to put those beliefs into practice for the good of others and for the glory of God.
In this book you will read of the story of Mariana, who was rescued out of a lifestyle of illegal drugs, prostitution and violence. You will read of nearly 60 other girls in a town called Medina who are participating in a program that is helping them realize their value as image-bearers and helping them discover ways God may desire to use their lives for His glory. But, you will also learn of hundreds, more likely, thousands, of girls who continue to live in sexual abuse and slavery every day. Read this book. Pray for these girls. Ask God to deliver them from this bondage and into the freedom of knowing Him and His incredible love for them. While you are at it, ask God how He might want to use you toward that end.
(FTC Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this unbiased review.)