**this is a guest post by Lisa McKenney – a treasure hunter and fabulous friend to She’s Worth It!
It was a sweltering day in northern Uganda. We had been to a number of villages and orphanages already that had completely broken our hearts. Nothing, however, it seemed had prepared me for this stop. We were at a small home run by a precious dutch woman. We each quickly grabbed babies to hold and love while the leader shared her story. This sweet woman spent her days loving and caring for babies infected with AIDS. She and her team cared for them 24/7, nursing them back to health if at all possible and then returning them to their mamas in the villages. Often times, the babies were too sick to be nursed back to health and died in her care.
She pointed to the wall behind her, covered in polaroids of precious little ones. Hundreds of photos. She knew every name and lovingly touched each picture while telling us their stories. “The stars,” she said with tears filling her eyes, “are the ones that didn’t make it.”
She wept. We wept. We held the babies in our arms a little tighter. We looked at this woman with a little more awe. Each of us thought to ourselves, “how does she do this? How do you love and care for a baby 24/7 only to lose them….one after the other? How do you handle that kind of pain?”
Anxious to help in some way, I quickly asked her about her funding.
She sighed peacefully and told us that thankfully, funding was not an issue for her. She had a team of people throughout Europe that kept their home and their mobile medical help funded. She turned and looked seriously into my eyes, “If funding were an issue for me, like it is for so many others, I don’t know if I could do this anymore. I don’t know if my shoulders could handle even one more worry.”
This. This is why we fundraise.
WE have the easy part. Giving up a Starbucks or two so that I can donate $10…..writing a FB status to spread the word….emailing or calling friends to ask if they will help…..this is NOTHING compared to what our field partners do.
These men and women across the world are doing the HARD work of investigating brothels. I can’t even imagine the horror of what they see on a daily basis. These men and women run safe houses. They hold broken girls while they GRIEVE what has happened to them. They walk with them through deep pain, through story after story of the atrocities that have happened to them.
By giving up our starbucks, by fundraising and giving of our money, we can help shoulder the burden for the people who are doing the HARD work in the field. My “easy” work (comparatively speaking) frees them to do the hard work. This is my part. This is what I can do. When you fully realize what these brave men and women really do, you want more than anything to come alongside them. I may not be able to take my friend who runs a safe house out for coffee or pay for her to get a pedicure, just to help her in her burden. I may not be able to hold her while she cries for the pain she has witnessed this week. But….I can do something. I can take this ONE thing off of her shoulders. Off of the shoulders of the folks who do the hard, hard work of protecting, rescuing, restoring and reintegration precious broken ones.
By giving, I can help ease one burden off of their shoulders so that they can do the hard work.
This. This is why we fundraise.
What an honor.
When working in the world of trafficking….or maybe just when living in this world….it’s easy to become cynical. The fact is that statistics say that less than 1% of girls that are trafficked will ever be rescued. The stories of these girls are enough to break your heart into a million pieces. Learning more every day, talking about it for hours on end is enough to make me want to crawl back under the covers some days and not come out.
Raising money can be hard. It feels like an uphill battle at times. Many of our treasure hunters feel like they are pounding the pavement; asking person after person to be involved and getting blank stares.
Sometimes it makes you want to focus on the horror. It makes you want to scream, “if you won’t help them, who will?” It makes you want to grab people’s heartstrings and wring them in two as your own heart has been wrung.
and yet….there in the corner is HOPE.
We have a choice about where we will place our focus – will we focus on the horror, the tragedy and the despair or will we focus on the HOPE?
We can focus on the fact that 1% DO get rescued. We can search and pray and fundraise for those 1%. We can raise our voices a
nd give of our time and talents to bring that number up. We can celebrate every dollar raised, every rescue attempted, every lie healed over by truth for rescued girls. We can honor their bravery and cheer them on.
Here at She’s Worth It, we choose beauty. We choose hope. We choose
Will you join us? Will you stride into the dark and hard and choose to focus on the hope? Will you crawl into these ashes and choose to see the beauty? Will you celebrate every $10 given because we know it’s $10 closer to rescue? Will you celebrate those 1%, knowing that the numbers represent precious, brave girls around the world?honor. We choose to celebrate. We choose to focus on life. We choose to view this process less as an uphill battle and more as a beautiful adventure that we are HONORED to be on.
Together, we choose hope.
Have you ever been around someone who is planning an AMAZING party? They talk about all of the details and who’s going to be there and when and how it will all go down….only one thing is missing…your invitation! Do you ask? Do you assume you are invited?
Often times, this is how we do fundraising, unfortunately. We talk all about the need. We share links and tell people how AMAZING it is to get involved. We explain the party in detail. We just miss one little aspect….
we forget to invite people to the party!
We assume they will KNOW that they are invited, just like we assume our closest friends know they are invited to the rockin’ party we are throwing.
I think we neglect to invite people to the party for 2 reasons:
1. we are afraid they will turn us down. We don’t want to put them in that situation and we certainly don’t want to handle the disappointment for ourselves. “Better to not even ask….they will come if they really want to come” we silently think to ourselves. (but really, how will we know until we ask? and won’t Jesus be present even in our disappointment if that does happen?)
2. We don’t fully believe that it’s a party :)
Here’s the deal. Too long we have bought the lie that we have to do charity work. We have been told children will die if you don’t get involved. And so we give. Reluctantly. We give to soothe our own conscious is many ways.
The truth is, children may die if you don’t give….but I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to give.
We give because we want to be involved in the great adventure that is joining God at work in this world. We give to live out our callings. We are created to give.
There is a reason every little boy (and girl, admit it) wants to be a super hero when they are little. There is a reason we LOVE action movies and heroes. The reason is that it calls forth something that is hidden deep in our spirits. It calls forth the image of God in us. We are created in the image of a God who rescues the oppressed. We are created in the image of a God who LOVES to loose the chains of injustice and set the oppressed free. He longs to bind up the brokenhearted. He loves meeting the needs of the poor and bearing the burdens of the weary.
We are created to be a part of this adventure.
And if we REALLY believe this….we will WANT to invite people to the party. We will want to see our friends join the great adventure. We want them to be FULLY alive and fully themselves – living out the image of God that has lain dormant in their beings.
I encourage you today to ask. Invite someone on the great adventure. Don’t just talk about sex trafficking and how you are getting involved, invite them along!
Often times, James (from Indian Rescue Mission) will thank me for raising money for him or brainstorming ways to serve more effectively. I laugh quietly each time and remind him that I am the one who has been given the honor. If it were not for James, there is no way I would have the blessing and honor of being involved in the lives of prostituted women in India and watching slaves be set free through his ministry.
It is an honor and a privilege to get to be called to this great adventure, to this party of a lifetime, to live out the image of God in my life that is being awakened more and more each day.
Will you join me? You are wanted on this great adventure. You can start on the adventure of watching justice come forth in this world by joining She’s Worth It and donating $10 and then asking 10 friends to do the same. If you want help on getting more involved in this ministry or want connections to other amazing ministries across the world, let me know. I’d love to have you on this adventure with us. You were made for this.
Many of you have asked for some advice on how to best pray for victims of human trafficking and for this issue in general.
Pray for Protection/Prevention:
Often times traffickers trick families or women into coming with them, with promises of a better life. Pray that their schemes will be made clear. Pray for clear eyes/hearts for women and families to see through their lies.
Pray for families to value their daughters. To keep them in school. To speak worth and value over their lives.
Pray for open eyes in airports, at border crossings, train stations, etc. Pray that others will see and recognize trafficking when it’s taking place.
Pray for potential victims to honor their intuition today. Pray that when they feel unsafe in their spirit, they will honor that feeling and run.
Pray for Rescue
Pray that good men and women will rise up from within police departments around the world and cooperate with the rescue organizations bringing this issue to their attention.
Pray for rescue operatives to see the trafficked girls clearly.
Pray for good evidence gathering. For covert equipment to work correctly, picking up the right images in clarity that will assist in investigations.
Pray for girls to feel safe with investigators and to speak up and ask to be free.
Pray for police cooperation and no tip offs
Pray for safety and quick rescues
Pray for Restoration
Pray for the first days/weeks of freedom as the girls start to settle down.
Pray for safe homes that bring truth freedom and safety.
Pray that the girls will know when they are safe so that they can begin to heal
Pray for healing in their inmost places
Pray for the lies that have been spoken over and to them to be replaced by sweet, sweet truth.
Pray for them to understand their value deeply.
Pray for the forgiveness process that is deep, long and painful
Pray for the safe house staff to love well and to see the chains instead of just the outside reactions
Pray for the girls to recognize the defense mechanism they’ve picked up along the way, pray they learn to honor those defenses as the way that they’ve survived, but to let them go when they are safe and those defense skills no longer serve them.
Pray for Reintegration/Empowerment
Pray for the girls as they learn new skills. Pray that they feel honor and dignity in these skills.
Pray that they would find the Lord’s favor as they work and would pick up the skills quickly
Pray that they would find what they are good at and called to do
Pray for their encouragement as they work on new skills and new business ventures
Pray that the voices that call them back to earning quick money by using their body will be silenced. Pray that they know the value of their body.
Pray for favor on the business ventures and those leading these initiatives
Jesus said that He came to proclaim freedom for captives. Loosing the chains of injustice and setting the oppressed free is what our God does best. Continually pray for freedom from every single chain of injustice that has ever bound these precious ones and that they will see absolute beauty and healing. Pray that He will redeem the years the locusts have stolen and bring beauty beyond measure. Pray for each and every person that will help them on this journey to truly SEE them and their immeasurable beauty and value. Pray that honor and dignity will be restored in awe-inspiring ways.
**if you have ideas on what to add here, leave a comment so that we can add them!
We are THRILLED by the number of kids who are participating in She’s Worth It! A few of you have asked for some tips on how to broach the subject with your kids. What to say. What not to say. How to frame the issue and clearly explain it without it getting to dark. So here you go! I’m no expert, but I have talked to tons of kids about slavery and I love watching the part of their hearts that cries out for justice and hope in this world come alive.
Explaining the issue
1. Keep it simple. Wikepedia describes slavery as “a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work.” I stick with this for my kids “slavery is when one person thinks they own another person and can be their boss at all times. They don’t treat them well or respect their words”
2. No need to describe sex trafficking unless you are working with teenagers! Even though She’s Worth It is focusing on victims of sexual slavery, you can simply talk to your kids about slavery. The girls are captured/sold against their will to “bad guys” who believe they own them and they are not treated kindly.
3. Use it as an opportunity to talk about the “chains of injustice” and how it must feel. Don’t forget to talk about the chains around the “bad guys” (I don’t use the words pimp or brothel – though I’m sure my kids have overheard them) too. How sad and difficult must it be to think that money
is more important than people? How sad to think you have to control other people and you don’t really see these precious girls?
4. Talk about the extent of the issue. Tell them this happens all over the world, to all colors and types of people. A lot of kids have heard about slavery only in terms of Africans being enslaved by whites. It’s important to let them know that this happens in every country. It helps them to put a face on the issue.
My biggest plea for you here is to please, please, please don’t stop here! If we only talk to our kids about the darkness, they could
become fearful and discouraged. Please don’t stop at describing slavery as this bad thing that happens in our big, bad world. Too often, this is how we talk about issues. Personally, I believe this lends itself to creating a culture of apathy. If I can’t do anything about it, why care? Kids dream big. Always. My 8 year old still prays at night that he might get the powers of super man :) Children are not limited by the view of the world that we have after years of pain and wounding! Enjoy this. Revel in it. LEARN from it!
Talking about the solution:
1. Invite your kids to pray for slaves. Use our field partners page and start praying for the organizations we are partnering with! My Gracie prays every night that “Mr James (Indian Rescue Mission) will rescue more slaves” It’s personal. She knows someone in the fight.
2. Describe the steps to addressing the issue (the depth will vary according to their ages). You can explain prevention, rescue, restoration and reintegration fairly easily to most kiddos.
3. Tell them that THEY get to be a part of bringing light into this darkness! We would love for your kiddos to be a part of our campaign. We have postcards that they can take to neighbors, friends, teachers or family members! They explain the issue while clearly defining a goal to ask 10 friends to give $10. Since the average price of a slave is $90 in the world, kids LOVE the idea of raising $100! The postcards also include a QR code so that kids can accept gifts on the spot.
4. Let them make “truth cards” for girls who are trapped in slavery or recently rescued! This is a way to let them use their hands to really make a physic
al difference. Go here http://bravegirlsclub.com/how-to-make-a-truth-card) to learn more from our friends at the Brave Girls Club on how to make a truth card! (I will be taking Truth Cards w
ith me to give away in Cambodia, Thailand, India and Amsterdam with the organizations we are partnering with on my trip in April!)
5. Brainstorm! This is where you let your kids’ creative juices flow. Maybe they have an idea that you wouldn’t have thought of? They may want to do extra chores to raise money, make things to send, pray more specifically or do a little presentation in their class to explain slavery to their friends! We believe that each person is invited into a grand adventure that is being all they are called to be and to creatively use their gifts to bless the world. Let your child dream.
We all love our kiddos and want to protect them from the evils in this world. We want them to believe the world is as big and beautiful and good as they believe it is. This often makes us fearful of talking to our kids about issues such as this, especially
ones that are this dark. I’d encourage you to read the story we posted yesterday about how we explained darkness and light to kids in a first time discussion on slavery. Click HERE to read it. I promise, it will bless and inspire you. If you present the opportunity to be LIGHT at the same time that you present the darkness, you will find that your kids will leave just wanting to wield their weapon of LIGHT in this world. All of the stories I’ve heard this week of families talking to their kids about slavery ended with kids BEGGING to go out that day to start telling others and to raise some money to help rescue and heal these precious girls.
Let us know how your conversation about slavery goes! Any tips you can add in the comments section or stories about your precious kiddos would be great for others! Guess what? You get to go raise up a new generation – very possibly the generation that will eradicate slavery. Go be inspired by your little world changers…..
**note: all of the amazing art is from our friends at http://www.BraveGirlsClub.com we think they rock :)
Many of you are entering the dark world of the injustice of human trafficking for the first time. It can be scary, I know. It’s overwhelming at times to think about the pain in this world; pain so great it can take your breath away. I know the pain of opening your eyes to see and your heart to care and to find that now your heart is broken in a million pieces. It can be difficult to not want to shut out the pain. It can be difficult to stay in these dark places when all we want to do is run for our lives.
Last night, I had the privilege of sitting down with my dear friend, Cathy, and her daughters to have a long talk about human trafficking. Cathy has just recently had her eyes opened to this atrocity and she is choosing daily to not look away. She is getting involved by calling friends and family and telling them that slavery still exists and asking them to each ask 10 friends to give $10 to fight it. As we sat around the dinner table into the late hours of night, the girls had many questions. They wanted to know what slavery looks like today and how people are treated. They wanted to know why there are people in this world who think it’s ok to own other people. They wanted to know every aspect of trafficking. There questions were endless, but it was the look in their eyes that pulled at my soul. They cared. Little Abby’s eyes got huge as she considered the ramifications of people owning little girls (we did not explain what the girls were used for, FYI). Hosanna wanted details on prevention, rescue, restoration and reintegration. Ellie asked insightful questions about the intricacies of healing.
As I saw these precious, tender hearts break for the horrors faced by little boys and girls across the world, my heart broke. I got afraid, truthfully. Afraid that I had crushed their childlike sense of wonder and amazement at this world. Afraid that they would want to run, screaming from this dark alley. So I shared this story….
“Girls,” I started gently “Let’s say that you have a flashlight in your hand, but it is turned off.” They each nod that they are following along, but wondering where this is going. “What would happen if you walked into a VERY dark and scary room? Would it be ok for you to think ‘oh wow. It’s dark and scary in here and it makes me want to cry’” They all nod that of course it would be ok to think that. “But would you need to run screaming from that room?” They immediately knew the answer to this question. “No!” they practically shouted, “Just turn on your flashlight.”
The girls each decided that they wanted to be a part of She’s Worth It. They want to go door to door telling people about slavery and asking people for $10 to fight it. We shared the vision of She’s Worth It and how they could use their voices to each raise $100 by asking 10 people to give $10. Hosanna did not like this plan. She does not want to be stopped at $100. She wants to do more. These 3 precious girls are armed with their flashlights and are ready to storm the dark places wielding their weapons and shine forth into the darkness. They are are determined to use their lights to shine in the darkest places because they believe She’s Worth It.
“If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.” —Isaiah 58