get up and get busy
Sometimes, when I look out on that great big world of ours and I see all the sickness and suffering, I just want to curl up in fetal position and rock in the corner until the trumpet sounds and Jesus comes on back to get me.
If you read my post, An Army of Fireflies, you’ve already had a front row seat to my epiphany that human trafficking is a real thing that happens to real people. You’ve already traveled that bit of road with me when I got my heart shattered and found out that little girls and boys are being lured in like unwanted strays, drugged to oblivion, beaten into submission, branded like cattle, worked like slaves, and traded like sports figures. Many of you have cried alongside me over these children being bought and sold like commodities and then exploited on the streets, in the back rooms of businesses, over the internet, and at our favorite sporting events. But sadly, there are vastly more folks out there who still think human trafficking is just some twisted plotline in a movie.
I get it, really I do. I came from that exact same place. It took me 2 long years of peripheral-only knowledge on trafficking before I had the guts to lean in and take a closer look at it. But now that God has opened my eyes and my heart to this, I am a girl on a mission. Okay… fine. I may be a teensy bit obsessed. Nowadays, I have a habit of randomly “fact-bombing” people (picture an innocent acquaintance in HEB with a cart full of crackers and kiddos, stopping to say hello and ask how I am only to hear, “Fine, thanks for asking. Hey, did you know that the average age of a sexually trafficked child is between 12-14…..?”) I could use better judgement on my timing and delivery, to be sure. But I just can’t help it. I simply can’t stop spewing at the mouth about this issue in hopes that the more people that know this is happening -> the less this will actually keep happening to people.
Maybe as you hear more about this, you too are surprised by the numbers and statistics regarding trafficking. If that is the case, then you will probably be downright shocked to find out that not only is this a real thing that happens to real people, this is also happening in real cities and towns, all over the world and yes – EVEN HERE in the precious Lone Star State. In fact, Texas ranks 2nd nationally for human trafficking and approximately half of the known cases include the sexual exploitation of children. Shocking, isn’t it? I know I was floored. I was even was further dismayed to learn that my own amazing city of Austin is actually a well-known hub for trafficking. That made things real for me, real fast like.
Just this morning as I was preparing to write this post, I listened to a recent talk called God Make Us Small by my favorite Christian writer/speaker/HGTVer, Jen Hatmaker. Her words were such a great reminder that Jesus was (and is) a passionate defender of the vulnerable and that if we are to follow after him and strive to be like him, we must be warriors in the battle too. As she put it,
“Jesus tasks us to care deeply and passionately about all who are little in this world.” ~ Jen Hatmaker
I agree with this 1 trillion percent. I will admit, however, that sometimes I feel too small and weak myself to make any sort of difference. But then I remember that God glories in using the small and weak to do his good and great work. I remember how over and over again in his word, we see him take the random imperfect person and suit them up for kingdom work and epic battles just like this one.
I was so moved by Jen’s words to the wounded this morning: “Your witness is heaven. I want you to hear it from Jesus today: It was not God’s will that you were ever harmed and you have the entirety of God and all his angels on your side. And I am here to tell you that defense and justice are yours for eternity.”
Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that comforting? Isn’t that SO LIKE GOD?
To borrow from Jen one last time, “It is suggested here by Jesus that those who do anything by which one of his little ones is harmed; it not only contradicts the will of God, but it highly provokes him, and there will be a reckoning.”
You know what else that makes me remember?
I remember that these are God’s children and that He grieves more for their suffering than I ever will. And that God so often does his work through his people… so I had better get up and get busy.
The evil of trafficking has provoked God’s anger and therefore should be provoking his people. For far too long, I have been insulated in my ignorance and comfortable in my complacency. But God has opened my eyes AND my heart; I simply cannot live another day refusing to do something about this. So now, I am also striving to open my hands as well. I no less than ACHE to suit up for battle in defense of the defenseless and be a part of the reckoning.
How about you? Do you feel the stirring of righteous anger for these innocent children? If so, you have God to thank for that because that is his hand twisting the knife of injustice in your heart and calling you to action. And there are a million ways to join the fight against human trafficking, all of them beautiful and important and necessary. From the lawmakers to the volunteers to pick up the trash at the anti-trafficking events, thousands of people have found their place in the battle and are fighting valiantly. You can too.
I invite you to begin to learn more about how you can get involved. Read some books, attend some seminars, ask some questions, fact-bomb some people in the grocery store. But most importantly, pray some prayers that God would open your eyes and your heart and equip you for battle. God so often does his work through his people… so we had better get up and get busy.
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My personal passion is to help bring spiritual and emotional healing to the children who have been victims this atrocity; to provide some hope, a home, and some healing for these survivors. That is why I have partnered with a local ministry here in Austin called The Refuge ,which is an organization that provides a place of rest and restoration for girls between the ages of 11-17 who are child survivors of sex trafficking. There are only a handful of places in the United States where young girls can get the help they need to recover—IF– they are ever found and rescued. Many of the children are simply put in the juvenile detention system or released back out onto the streets or to their often sad and dangerous home situation. This just heartbreaking and unacceptable. I am so hopeful and grateful that we are just about to break ground on a 50-acre campus just outside of Austin that will be known as The Refuge Ranch, which will provide long-term, holistic care for rescued girls. It will be the first of its kind in the country! You can learn more about The Refuge by visiting their website here.
Also, if you happen to be local to Austin, you can also join us for A Celebration of Hope and Healing on Sunday, September 20th from 3-7:30pm out on beautiful Lake Travis. This afternoon event will be very casual, family-friendly, and part celebration/part fundraiser in support of The Refuge. Come enjoy great food, family entertainment, and live music from local kiddo musicians as well our special guest, the notorious honky-tonk band, The Derailers. It’s All Good BBQ will be selling their famous award winning BBQ to regular ticketholders and VIP Sponsorships will include a private buffet served inside the VIP pavilion. Plus, there will be a playscape, bouncy-house, and face painting to keep the kiddos entertained. More info and tickets here.