For Your Eyes Only: Here is My Heart ... and Some Backstory

For Your Eyes Only: Here is My Heart ... and Some Backstory Warning: This story contains imperfect language, intense feelings and realities such as sexual abuse and death. There is frequent crying from the outset.

Journal Entry, 25 March 2014:

 

This morning I wept. Not just some tears rolling down my cheeks. Full on sobbing, scrunched up face, drool from my contorted mouth sobbing. I fell to my knees. Face to the ground.

 

I started reading chapter 1 of The Locust Effect. When I read that girls between 10 – 13 were regularly violently raped I felt shocked and outraged. Tears fell when I read about Yuri’s broken body discarded on the street. And when I read that someone knocked at Jhon’s door and said, “Someone killed your sister,” the floodgates opened.

 

We have to do something! NOW!

5th Freecember 2014

My interest in and heart for the poor, marginalized and oppressed has been growing over the past decade. I find myself frequently returning to a desire to actively participate in preventing slavery, and rescuing and restoring the priceless people affected by slavery: the ones that do not have the strength or resources to defend themselves.

In 2002, I started leading trips of young people to serve in Eastern Europe and was exposed to the material lack some people there had. I remember one young person who recounted how that afternoon she had seen a boy climbing on a trash dump holding up discarded clothes for his little sister who stood at the top of a hill to choose from. The teenager was heartbroken at the realities of extreme poverty, wishing she’d taken off her name brand fleece and given it to the little girl on the spot; she now works for 10,000 Villages.

In 2007, I led a service trip to an orphanage in Eastern Europe. I was focused on completing the work aspects of the project, guiding the leaders, keeping the teenagers safe, sharing a message of hope, truth and purpose. We helped alleviate real problems, but others who were more experienced and aware suspected that the orphanage director was selling the orphan girls. I was horrified. And partly dumbfounded that I had been oblivious. But I wasn’t looking for it, didn’t think about looking for it, and was focused on other important matters (primarily the young people for whom I was responsible). Thankfully, despite my ignorance, the attention brought as a result of our presence resulted in the removal and prosecution of the orphanage director.

A few years later, I attended a conference in Budapest. Out of interest, I attended a seminar by a woman who had worked for 10+ years with women who were trafficked and prostituted. I couldn’t stop weeping. I felt an urge to go up and wash her feet with my tears. I didn’t do it, not wanting to interrupt. Or more probably out of self-consciousness. I wanted to find out more and just say thank you for giving your life to serve, so I had lunch with her and her team and the uncontrollable sobbing continued. I said, "We have to talk about something else for a while. I can’t cry any more." At that point, I had no idea that women and girls were deceived, forced, coerced, threatened and enslaved for commercial sex.

That night I saw a woman at the entrance to the hotel where I was staying. Who did I see? A prostitute or a woman being prostituted? I saw a woman with a story I didn’t know. I didn’t know how she ended up there. Was it a choice? Forced, by forces beyond her control? Threatened with bodily harm? Passportless? A prisoner without bars? Under threats to her family? Unable to speak the language? Unable to trust those in positions of authority, in position to help?

I continued on with work and my young family. Busy times if you know what I mean. I would taking opportunities to teach on God’s heart for the poor and oppressed, giving messages on hosting parties for people that won’t, no, can’t invite you back, and how sponsoring a child for Compassion International is a tangible, specific way people can take a first step. I’ve taken young people to conferences about slavery and injustice, like the day Hope for Justice hosted in Birmingham, England, a few years back, and have encouraged them to begin giving interest-free loans to people through Kiva. For years we have been monthly donors to International Justice Mission, not much, but a small way to participate in their work on behalf of the oppressed.

In March, I decided to go see a screening of a film about sex trafficking, followed by a panel with the London Metropolitan Police, Hope for Justice, IJM UK and Sophie Hayes Foundation.  I left that afternoon with this thought: I have to do something about this.

I was aware that the book, The Locust Effect, had been published recently, and I got it and started reading. Here’s my journal entry from 25 March 2014:

"This morning I wept. Not just some tears rolling down my cheeks. Full on sobbing, scrunched up face, drool from my contorted mouth sobbing. I fell to my knees. Face to the ground.

I started reading chapter 1 of The Locust Effect. When I read that girls between 10 – 13 were regularly violently raped I felt shocked and outraged. Tears fell when I read about Yuri’s broken body discarded on the street. And when I read that someone knocked at Jhon’s door and said, “Someone killed your sister,” the floodgates opened.

We have to do something! NOW!"

So at various times over the course of this past decade or more, I have been both heartbroken and outraged, and more recently I have been pursuing ways to be meaningfully involved in helping end modern slavery, human trafficking and violence against the poor. I have been looking for what is a fit for my capacities, abilities, experience and heart...

15th Freecember 2015 Update

Last year, I honestly couldn’t figure out what I could do to make a difference, and I wasn’t sure what to do about everything I was feeling. I didn't know what I didn't know, and I didn't know what would actually help. I set out to learn as much as I could about human trafficking, and started, or really, continued on a journey, figuratively and sometimes literally. I wrote down but didn't share publicly about what I was learning and thinking and feeling. Then, after talking and dreaming and kicking ideas around with a few friends, and not really knowing what else to do at the time, but wanting to do something, I decided I’d start by trying to go 100 miles in a month and seeing if anyone would be crazy enough to join me.

Plus, nothing about slavery is funny. Me exercising… Now that has potential.

Heartbroken. Outraged. Hopeful. Overwhelmed. Here. Overseas. Persistent Effort. #freecember #hohohope