The End

Tonight I took off the little brown dress for the last time of the One Dress Campaign. This month literally flew by, and it is hard to believe it is already over! I am in New York City visiting with some of my Berlin STINT teammates for the weekend, and they asked me today what I have learned that I am taking away from this experience. It was delightful getting to process with these women I love what this month has been like and the things I have learned, and it mostly boiled down to two main thoughts.

One, and this one is pretty superficial, is that we are mostly concerned with ourselves and our own appearance more than we are with others. I wore the same dress for 30 days straight, and only one person clued in and asked me about it. One. With everyone else I either ended up telling them about the campaign, or they just never realized that I was wearing the same clothes every day. (or there may have been some who noticed but didn’t ask me about it!) It made me see that I care so much about my own appearance, but it really doesn’t matter. It made me realize how little we pay attention to those around us, and really how unimportant our wardrobe is in the grand scheme of things.

Two, although I am just one person, there is a fight going on and I can be involved in it. The facts about sex trafficking are staggering and can sometimes be overwhelming, but there are still ways to help. Prayer is a huge one. My times spent praying for these women and girls who are involved have been so sweet, and I have seen the Lord grow my heart for them and deepen my desire to love and serve them however I can. My understanding of the power of prayer is so limited, but I have learned that the more I pray the more strongly my heart is aligned with God and His will. Mind-bogglingly awesome. Being an advocate and spokesperson for these girls who do not have a voice is another way I can be a part of fighting against sex slavery. Becoming more aware of my surroundings and pursuing those who are lost and hurting, seeking to listen and love them as Christ does is something else I want to grow in.

Finally, the end of my One Dress Campaign does not mean the end of learning about this. I want to keep praying, reading, and being as involved in the fight as I can. Hopefully I can continue to be an advocate and continue learning new ways to love and serve both the slaves and those who have been rescued. Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

Good News on Trafficking

I was just reading back through some of my previous entries, and realized that the last time I wrote about the campaign I was one week in….and now I only have one week left! I mentioned in that post how time was flying, but I had no idea just how fast. The past couple of weeks have been super busy with conferences, and I haven’t felt as engaged in the dress campaign as I would have liked to have been. But, this week will (hopefully) be much calmer and will allow for more learning, sharing and finding out how I can be involved in the fight.

In the midst of the sad and often horrific stories of human trafficking around the world, I have also found a few kernels of hope. There are hundreds of men and women around the world who are actively engaged in the fight to end slavery and in the rescuing of those who are being sold for sex.

1. International Justice Mission: although they literally work worldwide, I want to highlight one story I read yesterday. They have a project going on in the Philippines called Project Lantern, and in the last 3 years IJM and the Philippine police have worked together to rescue 259 women out of sex slavery. In addition, they have seen a 79% decrease in the availability of minors for sex. To read the entire article, click here.

2. Rati, a young Indian girl left at a train station by her parents and taken by a trafficker, was rescued in September 2010 by IJM staff in Mumbai. You can read the full story of her bravery and refusal to give up hope here

3. My friend Tasha wrote a fabulous blog post on this topic a few weeks ago that included a link to a group called Rapha House. They are a group that establishes safe houses for women in southeast asia who have been rescued from sex slavery, giving them an education and trade skills. On their website they share a prayer list – specific things to pray for each day of the week. This is a great start to getting involved, and is one thing I want to incorporate into my prayer life as a result of this month. To read more about what Rapha House does, visit their website.


Intern Kickoff Weekend, and the specialness of 17

We hosted the Great Lakes Intern Kickoff Weekend here in Indy the past three days, and it was so fun working together with my friend Lisa and our team to plan and run this training weekend! This is one of my favorite conferences (I feel like I say that for every conference……but really, I love this one a lot). On this same weekend in April four years ago I was sitting in a metal folding chair in Asheville, NC, surrounded by a host of fellow almost-graduates about to embark on a one-year Internship or STINT (overseas internship) with Campus Crusade for Christ. We all felt excitement over what God had in store for us, terror/apprehension/anticipation and sometimes even enthusiasm about graduating from college and developing our teams of ministry partners in 3 or 4 months, awe that we actually got to be a small part of expanding God’s Kingdom, and exhausted after listening to a weeks’ worth of details and information in 2 very short and full days.

Four years later all of those emotions and feelings are still true for our interns, and even for me. It is so exciting to sit in a room with 130 new Interns and STINTers and imagine the impact their lives are going to have on eternity this year!! It is fun listening to story after story of how God brought each person to take this step, especially from those who never imagined they would be doing this (I was one of those people 4.5 years ago). It is AMAZING to see the legacy of God’s provision in developing teams of ministry partners for missionaries all the way from the Apostle Paul to today, knowing that He can and will do it again for this new group of faithful disciples. I am still in awe that God allows us to be a part of His plan in taking the gospel to the world. And finally, I and they are also very exhausted after an intense weekend of vision, paperwork, ministry partner development training, team bonding, fun time and more vision.

Our theme verse this year was Habakkuk 1:5 “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! For I am about to do something in your day you would not believe if you were told.” We are watching with great anticipation to see what our great God does to blow us away this year. Please pray for these 130 interns as they begin inviting others to join them in ministry and prepare for life after graduation!

And about 17. Today marks 17 days of wearing the little brown dress! I’m looking forward to posting more this week about what I am continuing to learn. It is also a special day because one month from today, I will be having eye surgery.  I wish I could be super cool and say that it would be my 17th surgery, but alas, that milestone has already come and gone.

A few photos from the weekend:

Meet Emily and Emily, two of the new Regional Office Interns! Its gonna be a fun year next year! 😉 Any suggestions for nicknames??
Taking a break from practicing their VACA presentation for a quick smile 🙂
Vision and Calling Albums (or VACAs) that we use when meeting with potential ministry partners!
More VACAs with some awesome staff!

Numbers

And this weeks’ numbers are:

10: Days wearing the little brown dress

2: days I got to wear my brown tights before they got a run in them

98: my heart rate yesterday at the doctor

7: times I have grumbled internally about the loudness of my next-door neighbors in the past couple of days

1: time I have turned my grumbling into praying for them

4: days until Intern Kickoff Weekend begins!!! Ahhhh!

3: lovely ladies I had the privilege of hanging out with on Saturday night

3: new friends made on Sunday morning at church

43: days until my eye surgery (Scheduled for May 17th!)

130: new interns and STINTers joining us in ministry next year

9&10: the chapters in Zecharia we are currently studying in small group

Week 1 Thoughts

Has it really already been a week since I first put the dress on?? Time sure does fly.

My heart has been breaking more and more as I learn about human trafficking, and all that comes along with it – abuse, pornography, greed, shame, loss of dignity and and the slow fade of hope. And I wonder sometimes, can this really be part of God’s plan? All the hurt, the brokenness, the depravity, the pain and suffering? Is He really still in control, or has Satan managed to gain the upper hand?

This is what I know: I am not God (and I and the world say “thank goodness!!”). But I can know God by reading the timeless, living, True Word He gave us. And His word says that He is fully loving, fully just, completely deserving of glory and honor, and completely in control of every single aspect of the entire universe. He is perfect. His ways are not our ways (ie. if we were running the show, we would do it a lot differently, but it would probably turn out much worse in the end than His story does).

He sees all of the injustice that is happening around the world, and in the end He WILL hold those responsible accountable for their actions. He is a God of redemption, and He longs to redeem brokenness. His desire was perfection, but we screwed it all up. He requires perfection in His presence, and knowing that we could never provide a good enough sacrifice or become perfect on our own, He came. He came! God Himself came to earth as our perfect Rescuer, giving us HOPE of a future. HOPE of life eternal! HOPE of renewal, of redemption, of healing.

His plan will prevail, and He often uses ways/events that we deem unjust, confusing, hard, unfair, or even just unnecessary to bring His plan to pass. He sees our pain, and it breaks His heart that we as a people have chosen to rebel against Him. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that God often uses the hard things in our life for our ultimate good. Because that’s just how Great He is. He can take the broken and bleeding, and turn it in to a glorious masterpiece.

So, as I head to bed, I am praying for the girls around the world who don’t get to sleep tonight. For the broken, the used, the helpless and those without hope. I am praying that God will rescue them quickly, and that He in His greatness will turn their mourning into joy.

This song has spoken to my heart this week as I have been thinking about this issue and praying for these women. I hope it encourages you as well:

 

PS – sorry the video isn’t working on the page! You can click on the link though in the box and watch it on YouTube – I highly recommend it!