Last year Thomas Nelson made a splash with Revolve, a glossy version of "the complete New Testament" wrapped in a brightly colored clean-teen magazine, complete with cute models, dating columns, and makeup advice. Teenage girls—who told Nelson's researchers that "the Bible is freaky and we don't read it"—finally had a Bible they could call their own. (Or half a Bible, anyway, since it's hard to call the New Testament "complete" without the 39 books that its own writers constantly quoted.) Those girls, or their parents, made Revolve a bestseller. Once again, through evangelicalism's trademark fusion of mission and marketing, the Word had become fresh.

I thought of those teenage girls when I heard the story of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is in her late teens. She has shy, laughing eyes as she tells her story on videotape to a patient interviewer. Like the teenage girls who are the target audience for Revolve, she grew up praying, trusting God, and hoping to go to college.

But Elizabeth, the daughter of Christian parents, grew up not in America but in a small village in Southeast Asia. When Elizabeth was 16, a relative in her village said she could find a well-paying job in a neighboring country. Eager to help her family and earn money for college, Elizabeth went with the woman, who handed her off to traffickers who shipped her across the border.

There Elizabeth was forcibly confined to a brothel, where for about $250 a man purchased the right to take away her virginity. She was held in the brothel for seven months, where she was raped by customer after customer.

Elizabeth could easily still be in the brothel—as hundreds of thousands of girls are worldwide—if investigators from International Justice Mission (IJM) hadn't rescued her and ...

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Always in Parables
Andy Crouch
Andy Crouch is an editor at large for Christianity Today. Before working for CT, Crouch was chief of re:generation quarterly, a magazine which won the Utne Reader's Alternative Press Award for spiritual coverage in 1999. He was formerly a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. Crouch and his wife, Catherine, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, have two children. His column, "Always in Parables," ran from 2001 to 2006.
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