“You and I might never be involved in commanding the wind to stop. But you can be involved in building houses for the homeless people to protect them the wind. You and I might never raise someone from the dead. But we might be able to help someone’s marriage come back to life. With this in mind, what does it look like for you as Christian to live in a way that is engaging and memorable? We all hear Christians talking about making a difference, but sometimes it takes more than talk- it takes action. What sort of difference would you like to make?” (Move Towards The Mess, by John Hambrick)
What a powerful statement and isn’t that true for most of us involved in social justice work? I can’t tell you how many meetings I attend across the country and the one unanimous thing I hear is, “we’re tired of sitting around and talking about the problem, we want to DO something.” Likewise, I often hear people ‘poo-poo’ awareness efforts as if talking about the problem isn’t enough.
While I completely agree with all of the above – I mean I’m at a Justice Rally, at the Super Bowl right now, hitting the streets DOING outreach because we were tired of only hearing and not doing the word of God, BUT… I want to point out that we do first have to talk about the problem in order to acknowledge that it’s there, to admit that we have a need, to share with others our struggles, so they can plan an attack. Don’t get me wrong, I am a doer – probably too much so. I have been Martha more times than I care to admit. I go go go and have forgotten many times to stop and enjoy life, enjoy the sunshine, my family, my children’s laughter. My old pastor use to say, if you want something done, you give it to Rebecca!
One evening many years back, I had been invited to a screening of the documentary Nefarious. I had always acknowledged that I had been forced into prostitution, but crossing the line to “trafficking” seemed too much for my still traumatized and brainwashed mind to comprehend. I took my friends up on the invite and at the end of the movie I wept. The Lord clearly spoke to me through that movie, reminding me that just because I imagined human trafficking as kidnapped kids in Cambodia, it doesn’t negate the force, fraud and coercion in my own life, here in a developed first world country. It was in this moment of revelation, brought about by an awareness event, that the Holy Spirit blew on the embers in my heart.
From there I started speaking – DOING – sharing my story with any and all who would hear. I volunteered, helping a local safe home open. I wrote, developing Red Flag brochures and wrote my first book. After a year, I felt called to start a non-profit and fumbled my way around that finding my niche, my lane, my specialty. I started seeing which ‘program’ I was really good at and more importantly, what I was passionate about. I tried hitting the streets for outreach and approaching women standing on the street corners and telling them they were someone’s daughter. I responded to crisis calls and went and picked up girls when they were on the run from their trafficker. I lobbied at congress and senate for the passing of laws. I attended conferences and put my narrative into trainings to help FBI and undercover police better understand the underground world of sex trafficking. I got called in on cases and helped comb through evidence and provide witness interviews. I worked on editing screenplays and movie scenes. I tried it all until I found what I loved: changing culture.
So how do you become a doer, finding areas in your life that could radically change someone else’s? A few lessons I’ve taken away from my time working in social justice issues:
1. Go toward the Fear. Every time you feel afraid to try something new, afraid to go talk to that person, to get on that stage, to pray for that stranger… GO TOWARD IT. Think of it as actually a guide trying to show you what path you SHOULD take. Because one thing is for sure: Fear is not of God. If you are feeling that, that is not a warning from God, no no. You may feel apprehension, anxiety, lack of peace- all of which you should heed the leading of the Spirit. BUT fear is not one of them and it can actually work as a barometer to tell you which way you should go. If I feel fear, and I know it’s not from God, that means something is trying to keep me from that opportunity and I have learned to go toward it. All of my fears go away when I walk into it and have had some of the most fruitful relationships, experiences and growth in my own personal life.
2. Try it all until you find what works. When I was simply working a regular 9 to 5 and enjoying my family, I had an awakening one day. As I sat at my table with my morning cup of joe, having my quiet time with God, I heard Him ask me: “how can you sit here and do nothing?” He was right. I looked at my past, too riddled to even pick ONE spot to begin, and I vowed to step out of my comfort zone because Jesus, God, stepped out of His. When you hear a scripture that talks about nations or the broken hearted, does something well up inside you? When you hear about influencers that broke stereotypes do you want to stand and hoo-ah with the best of them? Start being attentive to the still small voice blowing on the embers of your heart.
3. Start with what you know. Jeremy Vallerand has a great TEDtalk about doing what you love to fight what you hate. He shares this great example of working in corporate America and staff were given monthly hours to volunteer in the community. He saw some of the most brilliant minds leaving early to go walk dogs in the rescue shelter, and stand in soup lines (all of which is great BTW), but he wondered how much better the org would have appreciated someone spending 1-2 hours a week working on the new website, getting the budget in order, reviewing the strategic plan. What is YOUR circle of influence, skill set or profession and how can you leverage that to help others?
We may not all feel called to storm the gates of Hades Braveheart style. But you may feel called to talk about issues that plague your community with your children, raising them to be conscious, caring adults. You may feel called to join the mission field full time and get sponsored by family and friends, or move to Uganda to assist with homeschool village children, building houses and wells. Or you may feel called to volunteer down at a local community shelter once a month. Try starting small and seeing where it leads, feeling the freedom to try something different. Whatever it is, do exactly as much as you feel called and led by God to do – the question is, are you asking Him?
This year we have trained over 20,000 FBI, Homeland security and law enforcement officers across America, assisted in the escape of 15 women, put nearly 300 survivors of sex trafficking through our online academy, consulted for 4 trials that led to convictions… and all of that started by one person talking about it.