Sunday, June 29, 2014

Even in Valleys

Even in the valley, You are faithful.
This has been my motto this weekend.

It has been a slow and heartbreaking week at the Atlanta Dream Center. 

After a long week full of physical struggles and sickness, tragedy struck on Friday. 
Five women from the Refuge for Women in Kentucky were involved in a tragic car accident on the way home from a recovery celebration. Most of the women in that van came straight from Out of Darkness (where I work) within the last few months, including one woman that I took to Starbucks last week. 
The Refuge for Women is a long-term recovery program that we partner with. After our women have all of their medical and psychological needs taken care of, we match them with a program that is the best fit for them, and they begin a year-long journey to recovery. This is where our women were when the accident happened.
Six died in the crash, one of them a woman that came from our care. The intern that was driving the van is in critical condition on a ventilator, and two of the women are still in critical condition.

Prayer opportunity #1: Please pray for our Out of Darkness team as we work with our Kentucky partners to take care of our women and their families during this time. Most of our team is also going to Kentucky to take part in the memorial service this week. 

Update on last week: My friend (from the last post) ended up getting cleared before her court date, so she didn't have to go! Unfortunately, she decided she wasn't ready for recovery and left the home early this week.

Prayer opportunity #2: Pray for continued safety while driving!

PRAISE: We had a celebration on Wednesday night for our 100th rescue of 2014!!! We have had 250 rescues in the three years we have been up and running and 100 in just the last six months! Praise God!

100 white roses represent 100 women rescued from trafficking so far this year!

Prayer opportunity #3: A new home is opening for the girls on Tuesday (July 1) of this week! We are trying a new model with house PARENTS instead of just house moms, so that the girls can see a good male role model! Pray for the marriage of these new house parents and that the girls' transition into their new home will be smooth! 

Prayer opportunity #4: Please pray for continued health. I have been struggling over the last several days with my normal health problems. Please pray for supernatural energy, rest, and strength.

Thank you all for your continued prayers. Even in the midst of tragedy, God still speaks, and He is showing me how loving and powerful He is every day. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

I Was Wrong

It's the end of another crazy week!

This week has definitely been my favorite by far. With the renewed outlook of being grateful for this opportunity and not worrying about what it may bring to my future, I have been excited to encounter the Lord this week. And boy, did He do some crazy things.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday of this week at the safe house. I met a new woman this week, and we instantly bonded. 

Her story is extreme, and she trusts absolutely no one, but she chose to trust me. I sat in on her psychosocial evaluation and prayed that she would trust our social worker enough to tell her the whole story. My heart broke as she revealed that everything started when she was fifteen. 
Her emotional and mental maturity is that of a fifteen year old. She is ten years older than me and looks up to me.
When I got up to leave, she panicked. I assured her I would see her again the next day. And that's when the attack began.
Everything was thrown in my path to insure that I couldn't be true to my word. The devil doesn't want my sweet friend to trust anyone. I prayed that she would have sweet sleep. She shared with me that nightmares had attacked her sleep for nights and nights.
I laid my head down to sleep, but I couldn't. Nightmares came one after the other. I prayed that I could sleep so I would be healthy enough to drive to see her. I reached out to my prayer team, and got a few hours of sleep.
I got to the house to a bright-eyed face the next morning. "You came!" she exclaimed. She laughed for the first time when she told me she slept all the way through the night. 
If God allowed me to carry those nightmares for her even for one night, the lack of sleep was worth it. 
It was a joy to go with her on her first Starbucks outing in her whole life. We talked and talked, about everything. She told me her fears, she told me that her captors pretended to be Christians just so they could trick her into trafficking again. I assured her that no one knows where she is, that she is safe, and that she can rest now. I assured her that we would make sure she is safe. That is our job.
She hugged me tightly before I left.

Yes, she may be 30. She may be called a prostitute or a stripper. 
"This is so much different than child sex trafficking," you might say.
But you're wrong.
I was wrong.
She was trafficked as a young girl. She's been brainwashed. She's been used.
She's a victim.

Before this week, I longed for the days when I was in Cambodia with little six year olds. I am ashamed to say I looked at some of the women here in Atlanta and judged. 
They're older. They should know better.
But the Spirit whispered to my heart this week.
"This is what she grows up to be if she doesn't get help."
This is what my little girls in Cambodia would look like if they aren't rescued. 
It makes me look at the "prostitutes" on the street a lot differently. Not as disgusting women who just want to make a living, but as women who need Jesus, and women who need to be rescued.

In a dark world, it may seem like no one is making a difference, but
"To succumb to the enormity of the problem is to fail the one."
At least I can say that through the strength of God, I'm not failing the one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

He Answered Me

The Lord has stretched me and broken me into a place of total dependency on Him. There have been complications with my new living quarters and with the overwhelming tasks I have come across in the last three weeks of this internship. 

Human trafficking in the US is nothing like I have ever seen before. Even just the drug issues are overwhelming, but when I take the mental health issues and the emotional trauma these women experience, I am blown away. 

As I looked at this issue, I became incredibly discouraged with the numbers of women who are trapped in this issue. I felt like I wasn't making a the work I was doing with Out of Darkness wasn't really making a difference. Even when I went into the safe home, I found myself having a hard time relating to the women. All of these women are older than me.

Then I came across an email from SHE Rescue Home...the organization that I worked with last summer. There was a picture with one simple phrase:
"To succumb to the enormity of the problem is to fail the one."

This phrase knocked me off of my feet. I can't just move on and let these women suffer. 

In the midst of severe spiritual attack, I cried out to God, and He answered me. 
He didn't answer me  through solving my problems or by booming his voice like thunder. 
He whispered to my heart with His still, small voice. 
He gave me a peace that transcends my circumstances. 
He encouraged me through Godly people in my life, like my mom, my boss, and my boyfriend's mom. 

I attended a job training at the peak of this spiritual attack. The training itself was so Christ-centered and explained the issue of trafficking. Even though the issue is dark, the training was full of the joy that only comes from Christ. 
Instead of walking away feeling depressed by the darkness of the issue, I walked away feeling very different than I ever had before. I walked away with the realizations that:
1) I have no clue what I'm doing with my life after graduation next May.
2) I don't know how God is going to use me in the fight to end trafficking.
3) That is okay.

I don't know what God is calling me to do. I don't know if His plan is for me to open my own rescue home, to run an organization like Out of Darkness, to work with the kids of these women, to be a social worker...I don't know. 
Maybe God's call on my life towards these women is to be a mentor, a volunteer who comes and spends time with them and their kids. 
Maybe His call is to use my experiences to write.
I don't know what God's plan is, and that's okay.

For the first time, I'm okay with not knowing what the future holds.  I know Who holds my future, and I can trust Him.