Thursday, May 16, 2013

Taking a Stand Together

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” 
-Helen Keller
I remember reading about Helen Keller in the 2nd grade. Though I did not suffer from what "limitations" she may have endured, I felt a connection with her. It would be years before I would find my own inner Helen though.
As I read through her story, I was struck by her persistence. The hand that life seemingly dealt her did not, in fact, determine her worth or even skill. She persisted...with help :)
It is at this time that I find myself in need of both persistence and help.

As I am sure you've figured out by now, I have a calling. It is unique (by the way, SO is yours!). It is something that must be grown and cultivated daily. It's also something that I question almost daily...

For years I prayed that God would reveal my purpose. I wandered around my corner of the earth lamenting about not being "needed". Once I got up from my pity party, God began to reveal the true purpose for my still being here. Side note: if you're still here you too have a purpose. Although I know my specific purpose will be difficult, I am dealing with one part at a time :)

Right now, I need help.

Let me explain what is being accomplished here. In Chisinau, Moldova trafficking for either sexual services or hard labor is a seemingly a part of life. There are more stricken by poverty and targeted for trafficking each and every day. Hopelessness endures and leads to various mental illnesses, drug and alcohol abuse and even suicide. The young ladies I met and work with are survivors of trafficking. The Beginning of Life ministry exists to rehabilitate and reintegrate survivors back into members of society.

Let's stop there and have an inner field trip. Imagine this: you are a young 14 year old girl, simply living. Mom and Dad drink a lot and food is scarce. Don't tune me out here, this will do us all some good.....

In order for Mom to get her weekly fix of beer and cigs, she tells the neighbor that he can "have" you for whatever purposes he needs. At the tender age of 14, you are forced into a sexual and abusive relationship with the man next door. You have no choice because you are of little more value than any other property. To your mom, it's like selling furniture to pay for food...

Stripped of all self worth and wishing you could simply die, you become numb to life. Visions of a first kiss with the cute boy at school are replaced by nightmares of encounters with the neighbor. Human kindness has given way to being slapped across the face and called a dog daily. You're told you were never beautiful. You're reminded every day that you are trash. You begin to believe that you would be better off dead.

Then one day you are rescued...taken to a facility with other girls who have a similar story. You are withdrawn and untrusting of everybody. If your own parents would sell you, why wouldn't these people do the same. Over time, you begin to hear of redemption and restoration. You come to know One who you see in your heart, One who loves you no matter what. You begin to hear of the One who can change your past and make your future bright. Emotional restoration has begun, but you still feel awkward and ashamed. You disassociate with your own body. You have days when life seems OK, and days when you fall back into self-depleting thoughts that you will never actually make it out alive.

This scenario is all too real and common in Moldova. The worst part is that most of the world doesn't know it's happening. A lot of girls don't get rescued. They are brought to the United States or elsewhere, forced to have sex multiple times a day to pay for their right to live. Does that seem fair to you? Just because we haven't fully acknowledged it doesn't mean it's not happening. And yes, I am well aware (probably more than most) about the trafficking in the states. Let me put it this way: if trafficking in Moldova was not allowed to go on for so long, trafficking in the states wouldn't have become such a beast of a problem. Chisinau is in the heart of trafficking, and we're fighting to stop it....literally.

I have teamed up with Beginning of Life and Children's Hope Chest to create a safe place, a training center for those affected by human trafficking, slavery and exploitation. Go back to the little girl you were a few paragraphs before and imagine someone coming to you and saying "You are worth life." This is a new concept for them.

How will the training center help?

  • There will be ongoing self defense training to equip women against further threats of violence.
  • Preventative programs will be in place to help educate the surrounding community.
  • Training programs will be offered to help those who are rehabilitated enter back into the community as a functional member of society.
  • Jobs will be created at the center itself.
  • A stand will be made against trafficking of any kind.
This is only the beginning. We intend to go further with this space, making it a completely holistic training center for the entire community. But we need HELP.

Our goal is $18,000 by August 1st. This amount of money will simply pay the rent for 1 full year on the small space set aside for this center. As I said, this is only the beginning. We will still need some equipment as well. As of this writing, we aren't even 1/18th of the way there, but that can change!

How can I help?

  • First and foremost, pray. Pray for God to change the corrupt hearts of the Moldovan government. Pray for His provision for this center and pray for His protection over the girls and staff involved.
  • Share. Share this need with your friends, coworkers, family members and church body. Share it with the cashier at your local grocer! Our biggest hurdle is that nobody really knows Moldova. My biggest dream is that you will one day get to see them.
  • Give. Your gift, no matter how big or little, makes a difference! Don't be fooled by the thought that you don't have enough or you can't do anything. If you are reading this then you are MEANT to do something. You can find an easy to navigate donation page HERE. All donations are 100% tax deductible.
  • GO. You read that right. Pray about what gifts and talents you may be able to bring. Pray about being the hands and feet of God to those who are in need. Pray about your next step, whether it's to the donation page or on a plane.
Think about the little girls shoes you just walked in. That was a true story, though I must admit I did leave some of the gory details out. I wish I could show you their faces, so you can see the hope just beginning to blossom behind the brokenness...but doing so would risk further exploitation. So, I invite you to close your eyes and think about that girl. Place yourself at the center of a broken soul and cry for help....will you answer?

Fighting for justice and hope,

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