The New Abolitionists by Christina Zorich

The New Abolitionists by Christina Zorich

Editor’s Note: The following article was published in our Sept. 2017 issue; however, since The New Abolitionist documentary is nearing completion, we wanted to provide this reminder to be on the lookout for its release! We will post an update when it is available. 

For the past two and a half years, I’ve been engaged in the making of a documentary on human sex trafficking. Despite being overworked and sometimes overwhelmed, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. The focus of my film has been the Christian missionaries who’ve dedicated their lives to ending human sex trafficking. To me, they are the modern-day heroes of my faith.

There’s so much to share about the experiences, lessons and changes this process has facilitated in me.  I continue to educate myself about the realities and intricacies of the following: the value and purpose of art, filmmaking, history, politics, geography, differing cultures, faiths, and societal forces. I also learned how to grow in my own faith through action. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that personal growth is our healthiest and most natural state. I’ve also discovered that our so called “mistakes” are the necessary and tangible evidence of this growth. I’ve made many errors while making this film.  But what helped me the most, were two things:  Letting go of my ego and not letting my perceived success or failure as a director define me. When I was able to put these things aside, getting back up after a challenge became easier.

I believe this film was and is my “divine assignment.”  I had many confirmations from trusted people of faith, that affirmed this for me.  I’m so grateful I took a year to seek guidance from the Lord about “what project he would have me do.” Had I not sought God’s counsel, I would not have had the faith to endure the never-ending trials and tribulations I encountered. Had it not been for my belief in God’s goodness and ability
to transform us all, I wouldn’t have made it. Every failure was necessary; propelling me toward the next set of lessons. Sharpening my character, abilities and understanding of the subject matter once again. This process of constantly embracing change, has taught that we are even more capable than we think.

I shot The New Abolitionists in Southeast Asia and travelled there twice to do so. The questions I asked were as follows: Why is it considered the most trafficked region of the globe? What can we all learn from this place about ourselves? Where and how must we change, transform and grow past this horrific reality? I also became deeply interested in what factors and conditions have contributed to this region being the most trafficked in the world.  There are different groups who play a part in this global stage. The first group is those I followed. Those missionaries who dedicate their lives to fight, day in and day out, to end human sex trafficking. These are the ones I called in the movie, The New Abolitionists.  Those who endlessly inspire me and deepen my moral courage. They are the concrete evidence of God’s healing power and goodness. They’ve sold everything, moved across the globe to rescue, restore, and stop this horror being perpetrated against woman and children.

Then there are the victims of this horrific industry. Women and children who are tricked, betrayed, seduced, pressured, blackmailed and exploited. Victims who fight and continue to heal from unimaginable pain and trauma. They’ve taught me about the strong, loving nature of the human spirit, despite any darkness the enemy and this world has thrown at them. I observed, many of these innocents going back into their families, villages and towns and transforming their own communities through the skills they learned through recovery and rescue missions.

Then there are the perpetrators, those individuals fueling this booming criminal industry. I’ve come to distinguish three categories in this camp. The first is a dangerous organized network of cartels that must be stopped. Then, there are the corrupt authoritative and governmental officials who are either working in collusion, to fuel this industry or turning a blind eye.  While there arethose in positions of authority fighting to stop this evil industry, globally, greater reformation, top prioritizing and greater accountability is desperately needed. This can be achieved effectively through social pressure.  Finally, there are the “Johns” who travel from all over the world to seek out sexual gratification. They are also, in a sense, victims—addicted, unwell, and in deep need of spiritual transformation.


The question I continue to ask is: Where are we in all this?  We’ve had 10 years of exposure to this subject in movies, television shows, interviews, news programs and various articles. Yet collectively, what real action have we taken?  Christian Elliot of A21 gave me a shocking statistic. He said, 1% of this criminal industry is being prosecuted. One percent!  We are all, collectively, becoming more aware than ever. Yet that awareness and the actual rate of prosecution is extremely incongruous.

I challenge everyone reading this article to do more than watch from the side lines. We are Christians!  There are no sidelines in this fight.  We need the whole working army of God on the field. Speak out and petition our elected officials to make this issue a priority. Pray hard and long. Donate to the anti-trafficking warriors on the front lines of this fight (some are listed on my website www.thenewabolitionistsdoc.com featured in my documentary on the “What can I do” page). Your donations allow them to continue their life changing work. Go yourself and do anti-trafficking work alongside them. Buy products made by anti-trafficking organizations and businesses that contribute to this work.  Find creative ways, like I did, to take action. Lastly, continue to educate yourself in solutions. Please don’t look away! Lives ARE at stake. We all have a part to play in ending human sex trafficking!  With God ALL things are possible.

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About Christina: The New Abolitionists is beyond a passion project for me. For the past 35 years, I’ve been a working professional as an actor, acting teacher, director and producer.  I’ve trained, taught and performed in some prestigious and respected theaters and training institutions on the East and West Coast; producing music videos, a web series and numerous plays.  However, my life changed a few years ago when at a chance meeting in Hollywood, I met Erica Greve, of Unlikely Heroes. Her story compelled me to action. For more information visit: www.thenewabolistionistsdoc.com.

 

 

Girls of Courage – an Interview with Heather Clark

Girls of Courage – an Interview with Heather Clark

Heather Clark is a multi-talented advocate for justice. She gradually became aware of the issue of human trafficking through a variety of circumstances, but readily admits she doesn’t fully understand the magnitude of the problem. As she says, “I have statistics memorized, heard true stories of the horrors, and have played the character of a trafficked girl, but I don’t understand. How could I? I think it is something in which we can always be growing in our awareness.”

When her daughter Aliya was 2-years-old, she broke her leg and was incredibly traumatized from the event. To help her process her trauma, Heather created an imaginary club called the Girls of Courage. “The Girls of Courage had super powers and we would fly over the city and look for kids who were in need or hurt and we would help them. Through these imagination games, she grew in courage as she gave it to others. Once she came through her trauma, the Girls of Courage remained but as the months went by, the scenarios changed from helping a little boy who fell off a swing in a park to helping ‘da poor kids’ as she would say in her little 3-year-old accent.”

Heather soon realized this was no longer a game to Aliya and she was becoming quite serious about wanting to help the poor.  “I realized that as her mom I would be the one to mentor her in her compassion and empathy. I wanted to do something that allowed her to be a part of helping, and not something that I did and told her about.  I considered the fact that I had the ability to use the arts to make a difference, to educate, raise money etc.  I put a dance show together called The Least of These and Aliya, my other daughter, Shekinah, and I, along with a cast of six, started to tour doing shows.”

The process was simple for Heather. She created a show, auditioned dancers, and set up a tour.  The creative part, or the production part, was not difficult.  “I have had wonderful casts of beautiful caring people who have volunteered their time and gifts for something bigger than themselves.”

While the creative part of the process wasn’t difficult, finding enough venues was!  “There are only so many places I can go on my own.  I wish we had more venues.  Since we are essentially fundraising, I wish we could partner with more people.”

Finding the right venues for the show was one challenge, but an incredibly surprising issue created an even bigger obstacle—one that took years to sort out—finding an organization to receive the funds raised by the shows. “Yes!  Actually! Organizations didn’t have the structure to partner with us.  I approached one organization and said that we would be touring, promoting their organization, and giving the funds raised to them.  But after so many attempts at communication with very little reply, we changed our minds and gave it elsewhere.  Now we work with Patricia King and XP Ministries (now Patricia King Ministries and Extreme Love Ministries).  They have been amazing to work with.  They are exactly the kind of organization I want to partner with.”

Raising awareness about human trafficking is never without heartache and strong emotion.  As Heather shares, “The thought of what these little children have lived through is what grieves my whole team the most.  We have done our best to really look in to the details of a few true stories to gain perspective when playing the characters in our dances.  A viewer came to me once and said, ‘Your daughter is a really good actress.  Her crying was so believable.’  I replied, ‘She wasn’t acting.’” Heather admits she can become angry at the state of society that allows such a thing to exist, “That men who should be protectors and guardians have become predators and abusers.  That angers me.”

On the flipside, there are great rewards as the cast impacts people on both an emotional and intellectual level—especially when people are moved to action. “When we have given a really great performance and the audience is deeply moved, we feel successful and it gives us a lot of joy.” But their impact goes far beyond the audience at their performances. “Part of what the Girls of Courage have done is raise money to get kids in Cambodia out of the slums and into school. We had the beautiful opportunity to go to Cambodia and meet the eleven kids that we helped give an education to.  We went into the slums and met their families who were so thankful.  That felt amazing!”

Heather has these words of advice for other creative people who want to use their gifts to advocate for justice: “Start small but start. The scripture that has been behind a lot of what we do is, ‘Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give it unto thee.’  We may not have money but we have talents, gifts and the ability to make a difference.  Therefore, we use what we have.  I would say to others the same thing, use what you have.”

In fact, that is Heather’s advice to anyone seeking to make a difference. She believes absolutely everyone can contribute in some way. “Homeless women from the other side of Canada made bracelets and sent them to us so that we could sell them for the education program. Homeless women!  They could have said that they have nothing to give but when they heard about what we were doing, they got together and did that. If a group of homeless women can do something to help the kids in Cambodia, we all can.”

Heather believes that with a little effort, everyone can discover what they can do.  Here are some of the examples she has seen personally:

  • A high school student had a bake sale at lunch time to raise money.
  • Kids got together and made purses from old jeans.
  • A knitting club in a secular school, knit scarves to sell at their shows.

You can be sure that Heather and her Girls of Courage will continue to do what they can, too. “We currently have shows on human trafficking and the sex trade, child soldiers of war, and slave labour. We are very happy to work with people on a local level. For example, if a church has a missions’ project, we are happy to come in and be a fundraiser for their project. We are always looking for places that we can come to perform!”

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Heather lives in Kamloops, B.C. with her 4 children. Heather is a singer/song writer, dancer/choreographer, painter and writer. She has her own professional dance company “Collective Productions” though which she brings out a message of mercy and compassion for those who are less fortunate and is also the owner of DNA Academy, a dance and arts school. She travels internationally singing, leading worship and speaking, calling people into a greater place of wholeness, healing and freedom in their lives and in their relationship with God.writer.

 

NOTE: This interview was originally published in our December 2017 issue.

 

Unexpected Breakthrough by Andrea Aasen

Unexpected Breakthrough by Andrea Aasen

For most of us, breakthrough is defined as a moment in time when something you’ve hoped for comes to pass. But what happens when your desire for breakthrough grows dim in the face of your circumstances? What happens when generational cycles dictate your beliefs and challenge your destiny?

This was the case for a little girl named “Molly.” Amongst the garbage piles, in a small Cambodian community, children scavenged for scraps of food to eat and plastic or cardboard pieces they could sell. Molly was just another face living in a dirt infested shanty, doing all she could to survive. Like the other kids, Molly’s life was becoming a predictable disarray of hopelessness, poverty, and exploitation. She was becoming yet another statistic.

Trapped in the injustice that threatened her generation, Molly’s community was one solicited regularly for drugs and human trafficking. It wasn’t uncommon that children her age would be sold for sex, labor, or begging. In addition, many were forced to run drugs or were abused for not bringing home enough money. Molly desired freedom from this lifestyle but only knew the path in front of her. Still, she dreamed of someday creating a different future.

My team and I were drawn to Molly. There was something so special about her. We would come weekly for kids’ activities in her neighborhood, and Molly was always highlighted. She was inquisitive and had a sparkle in her eyes when she engaged. Year after year, we would see her and knew we had to act quickly, or her fate would be that of those around her. Education wasn’t free in Molly’s nation, so we sponsored her, and others in the community, in private school education. Several mocked us for putting “slum children” into private school, but we knew that they, like any other children, deserved the best. Molly’s socioeconomic status did not determine her worth.

Though she had never been to school, Molly caught on quickly. Reading, writing, math, and science came easily, and she soon surpassed her cohorts. While many kids we sponsored were top in their class, Molly had an exceptional knack for learning. Her abilities soon led her into accelerated opportunities, where she not only skipped grades but also received high honors and even occupied the #6 position within her nation! Education brought Molly’s breakthrough.

No longer a victim of her circumstances, Molly now dreams of becoming a doctor or engineer and will indeed change her nation. But future leaders, like Molly, are hidden in dark places. In her own ability, Molly would still be amongst the garbage piles, but with help, her life was forever changed. Molly’s testimony depended on others. Always remember that you could be someone else’s breakthrough.

Love has a face.

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Andrea Aasen is the Director of Extreme Love Ministries. She is a visionary leader with a heart to see justice released to the nations. Andrea has a desire to see women and children empowered and walking in their God created destinies.  She believes in the power of LOVE to transform nations and individuals, and as a result, has developed various community, business, and advocacy models to support and protect victims of human trafficking, abuse, and other forms of exploitation. 

This article was originally published in Andrea’s regular column “Love Has a Face” in our September 2018 issue. 

 

 

Creating Freedom Through Love by Gretchen Bartels

Creating Freedom Through Love by Gretchen Bartels

Rebirth Homes is transforming the lives of survivors of sex trafficking in Riverside, California with a holistic approach to healing.

When a butterfly emerges from its cocoon, it breaks through the translucent chrysalis that has been protecting it during its transformation from caterpillar to butterfly and enters the world head-first, ready to stretch its wings and take to the sky. The emblem of the butterfly beautifully represents the healing survivors of sex trafficking find with the help of Rebirth Homes. Rebirth Homes is a faith-based nonprofit organization in Riverside, California that provides safe housing and healing resources to women who have been affected by sex trafficking.

—Rebirth Homes CEO, Debbie Martis—

Rebirth Homes opened its first home in September of 2017, but it started years earlier as a glimmer of an idea. When Rebirth CEO Debbie Martis was wandering through Riverside years ago, she saw an abandoned house that had fallen into disrepair. The image of this broken and battered house with so much lost potential later resonated with her as she began learning about human trafficking worldwide. Why couldn’t someone rebuild this house? Why couldn’t a house like this one give trafficking victims a place to rebuild their lives? The seed idea for Rebirth Homes was planted, and over the next few years, Debbie prayed over the vision, learned more about trafficking in Riverside, gathered together a team, and raised funds to open the first home for adult women who are survivors of sex trafficking in Riverside County. From the beginning, Rebirth Homes has been an organization founded firmly in prayer, dependent on God’s leading and provision, and born out of deep love for those who are trafficked.

To address the multifaceted effects of trafficking, a holistic approach to healing is essential, and Rebirth Homes offers a program that fosters spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental healing. Women in Rebirth Homes’ two-year program receive a safe place to live, counseling, job training, and community with each other, staff, and mentors. This loving support is a key component to helping victims regain control of their lives and become survivors with bright futures.

With the guidance of counselors from the Grove Counseling Center in Riverside, the women study healthy boundaries and work through their trauma in weekly individual and group counseling sessions. We also offer equine therapy and art therapy. The women have developed strong connections with the horses and have also created some beautiful art pieces that express the darkness of the life they lived being trafficked, as well as the hope they now have for their futures.

In the first year of the restoration home, we have seen transformation in women’s lives as they achieve the goals they set in their care plans. When a new woman arrives at the home, she is often withdrawn from others, she speaks little, and she shows signs of the trauma she has suffered, but within weeks, she will laugh and smile, play board games, study the Bible, and talk about her plans for the future. This year, one woman completed her high school degree and two women have pursued their goals by taking college classes. Access to mental health services and medical treatment has also been instrumental in the lives of the women of Rebirth Homes.

The path, however, has not been an easy one. Walking with those who have experienced deep trauma is challenging. Some days triggers are active, tension is high, or energy is low, but through it all God sustains our staff, volunteers, donors, and the ladies in our program. God is at work in the lives of survivors of human trafficking. Many women in our program have renewed their Christian faith or have made a first-time commitment to Christ. Four women have been baptized over the last year, and the women in the program have been sharing Christ with new women who join the Rebirth family.

And in the midst of tough challenges, small moments of blessing shine through all the brighter. One week not long ago, I was heading to the home to spend time with the ladies, and I knew that some of them were processing through stress that was causing anxiety and insomnia. As an avid crocheter, I brought along crochet hooks and skeins of yarn in cheery yellow, blue, and purple, hoping that this skill that often calms my own racing mind would help them too. I sat down, working on my own project, and started talking to one of the women. I offered to teach her how to crochet, and within moments, a group of three women were sitting around the table learning how to crochet. A peaceful stillness fell over the room. I had hoped that sometime far down the road that this skill might bless the women with an outlet to relax, but that very day one of the women proudly declared that she had found a new coping mechanism. Even in these small moments, I can see God working His healing in these women’s lives.

From Fall 2017 to Fall 2018, we have graduated two women from our program, and we are so excited to celebrate the growth and healing that we’ve seen in their lives as they have soared off into the future on new wings born of God’s love.

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Gretchen Bartels is a mentor at Rebirth Homes, writer, and an associate professor of English at California Baptist university, where she teaches predominantly upper division literature, creative writing, and the senior capstone. She earned her BA in English and Chemistry from Wheaton College, IL and her MA and PhD in English from the University of California Riverside. She is passionate about supporting survivors of sex trafficking and sexual violence in their healing journeys. 

 

NOTE: This article was originally published in the Winter 2018 edition of VOJ Magazine.

 

Be a Voice! by Sharon Ngai

Be a Voice! by Sharon Ngai

My heart was forever marked in Bangkok, Thailand. I was on outreach in one of Thailand’s most notorious red-light districts when I saw the faces of exploited girls that I could never erase. The bar we entered was set up in stadium style seating with girls dancing on a center stage surrounded by men watching them. The girls wore string bikinis, each identified by a number. One particular girl caught my attention as she struggled to keep pace in energy as she danced. The mama-san (the woman in authority over the girls) saw the young lady struggling to keep pace and, without warning, she pulled out a whip and whipped the young lady across her back. The sound of the whipping pierced my soul. In that very moment, I saw the young lady’s anguish. But she immediately hid her pain with a smile that masqueraded the true measure of what her soul felt. She danced with energy, with seduction, in the same manner as the other women around her. They all had smiles on their faces, carefully hiding any trace of sadness or distress within them.

What took place there is etched in my memory, and when I left Thailand, I knew I had to do more. That was in 2010. Since then, I’ve formed an organization called Justice Speaksto do local outreaches in Los Angeles. I’ve also returned to Thailand every year since, bringing a team with me. Answering the call to fight human trafficking can be daunting in light of the massive scale of injustice. But the Lord told us early on what our greatest weapon in warfare should be in our fight against this grave injustice: Prayer.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience…” The tone of this passage is not passive. We are told to aggressively engage in a battle and take a stance of warfare that is empowered supernaturally. In our own human ability, we cannot take down prostitution rings, rescue victims of exploitation, or expose arenas of corruption. It would be impossible. Human trafficking, like many other issues of injustice, exists because of a spiritual problem, and a spiritual solution is required to confront it.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood…but against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Through a series of events, the Lord revealed to us very early on that He will TURN this issue of human trafficking through prayer. We stepped in with our measure of faith and the mandate on our lives in prayer and began to see immediate results. We have consistently led a justice prayer watch over the years at Radiance International(Hollywood House of Prayer) where my husband Jonathan and I pastor, and we have put on prayer strikes across Los Angeles and Thailand.

Through these initiatives we have seen numerous establishments shut down, women rescued, prostitution rings exposed, and major king-pimps taken down. In Pattaya, a city in Thailand known as the major sex tourism destination in all of Asia, there is a notorious street known as Walking Street. We have done eight prayer strikes there to date, and things have dramatically shifted with bars shutting down and the number of women exploited immensely decreasing. Stories of breakthroughs are a regular occurrence—not by coincidence, but because of prayer.

On behalf of my own city, Los Angeles, consistent prayer has gone up for the freedom of those trapped in the sex trade. I am certain there are others interceding along with us, but we have stood consistently in a stance of war battling in prayer to see breakthrough, and it has manifested at the city level. As believers, we need to realize the significance of our post in the spirit. If we relinquish our place of authority in the spirit, the individuals designated to engage the battle in the natural (law enforcement, etc.) will see minimal results. I believe because we have taken our post seriously in the spirit, our city has seen a significant breakthrough in the capturing of perpetrators and the rescuing of women and children. Our city launched the Human Trafficking Bureau, a one of a kind agency focused on investigating crimes of human trafficking rescuing minors, and prosecuting traffickers. Since its inception in November 2015 through March 2018, there have been well over 200 victims rescued and almost 1000 arrests made. I applaud the courageous men and women on the frontlines of my city rescuing lives, but they need us to break open the way in the unseen realm, so their job can be done in the natural. Likewise, we need them to continue the courageous work they do in the natural realm on a daily basis.

When you pray, you may not know the immediate results of your prayers, but be assured that your prayers areheard by God. Imagine your prayers being launched like missiles hitting the mark as God directs your intercession! As you choose to partner with God in prayer, He will use you as an agent of breakthrough upon the earth. You may never physically rescue a child trafficked in the sex trade, but through prayer He will bring you onto the frontlines to dismantle the structures and powers that hold these children captive. Your prayers just might be the missile that liberates not just one, but hundreds of victims.

Your voice counts!

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Sharon Ngai is the Founder of Justice Speaks, a non-profit anti-trafficking organization based in Los Angeles. Speaking at conferences and workshops from college campuses and the United Nations, Sharon’s passion to end human trafficking and raise up a generation of Justice Champions has had immeasurable impact. In 2010, Sharon linked arms with Bridges to the Nations in Thailand to ensure that women and children at risk in traffic prone regions would be protected. Since then, hundreds of Thai children have been reached, including exploited women trapped in the sex trade. Sharon also launched the Students4Justice Human Trafficking Curriculum, with topics that include pornography and the objectification of women in culture. Her greatest passion in this fight is to fuel a generation in prayer for Justice–for the ending of human trafficking, and all forms of exploitation. Sharon and her husband, Jonathan, are Lead Pastors of Radiance International(Hollywood House of Prayer), an apostolic center in the heart of Hollywood that is training a new breed of creatives to impact Media, Arts & Entertainment for Christ. She is a proud mom of three beautiful children.

Originally published in the Fall (September 1) 2018 edition of Voices of Justice Magazine

 

 

A Heart of Perseverance by Blaire Fraim

A Heart of Perseverance by Blaire Fraim


She had relapsed again. Just before Christmas, Shay had gone back to the warmth of the manholes under the bridge, selling her body for $10 in order to buy her next hit of “the rock” as she called it, or crack cocaine. This wasn’t the first time either, I’d been down this road with her four times already, each time helping her get into a detox, then a rehab program, then a job, then her own apartment. Months of sobriety, the safety of her apartment, the security of a job, would be thrown away in a moment when the traumas of her life would come flooding in. It was too much for me to comprehend; I only knew that my heart was broken. I wondered if she would survive this relapse; dark thoughts crowded in as I feared that death would be the only peace my friend would know.

For those who work in back alleys with the addicted, exploited, and vulnerable; we know that rarely is a story as simple as: “She was rescued and lived happily ever after.” In fact, I’ve never encountered that story—instead I’ve known the cycles of shame and trauma that often look like one step forward followed by two steps back. In the moments when she takes two steps back, I’ve come to cling to the truth that shame or addiction is never the end of the story.

Love is the end of the story, because love never fails. Yet in the midst of the story God is writing, when we’ve yet to see the breakthrough we know will come, we must be a people of perseverance.

“I will run the course of your commandments, for you will enlarge my heart.-Psalm 119: 32

Early in my journey of working with exploited men and women, the Lord brought me to this verse and has become vision for my life: I want a big heart. In a movement championing justice, I began to see that many peers who were fighting alongside me were bitter, disappointed, and striving in their own humanistic zeal to bring about their version of justice. Hearts shriveled up because of their own disappointed expectations with the people they serve, the apathetic government, or their disgust with the perpetrators, etc. In the low moments, like with my friend Shay, I too was tempted to grow bitter, to feel completely defeated when I wasn’t seeing her change. Many of us will face these moments in our life, moments that call for perseverance. A perseverance that doesn’t merely dig in its heels to keep fighting, but a perseverance that surrenders to the only One who can save. In our pursuit of justice there is a tension we must walk: to take action and advocate for the oppressed, loving them through the messiness of their pain, but also surrendering their lives and future into the One who holds them in the palm of His hand.

The pressures of life, the disappointments, and the betrayals will invite us to protect ourselves—to insulate ourselves from the pain of another. We will be
tempted to grow cold and uncaring. In truth elf-preservation is second-nature and yet the gospel calls us to a compassion that causes us to enter into the suffering of another. This can only be sustained in the place of prayer and in beholding the Servant King Jesus who will not fail and who will not be discouraged until He brings forth justice (Isaiah 42). When He is our motivation, our strength and our hope, He gives grace for the journey. He provides everything we need that in the end we would be saints who have run the course set before them, who have not loved their lives unto death, and who have great big hearts—with eyes shining, who still weep over the poor and oppressed of the earth! This is our inheritance, this is our promise.

Shay survived that relapse. She survived a few more after that, too. Today she is living independently, working hard at her job and beginning to rebuild her relationship with her estranged children. She still struggles, drugs are still a strong temptation that she must work on daily. Yet in the community of people around her she is beginning to run the course God has marked for her, and she too has a heart that is rising out of the ashes, that is growing bigger and bigger every day.

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Blaire has served in the non-profit sector for 9 years, lending her leadership and experience to build Christian communities in the praxis of social justice work with marginalized and vulnerable persons. She has mobilized awareness and intervention campaigns in Brazil that saw more than 500 churches across the nation participate in reaching out to 2,000 exploited persons. She has authored an Intervention Manual for Christian Communities that gives a step-by-step look at how to develop and sustain outreach to exploited persons in their community. After years of direct work with exploited women and their communities, Blair desires to see growth and transformations sustained through the Body of Christ and the beauty of families. She and her husband currently live in Brazil as missionaries. To learn more:visit: www.fraimsinternational.com

 

 

 

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