This past week was a big one around these parts. We had a small group of college girls come to spend a week learning about human trafficking. The unique and beautiful part of this particular week was that Carly (my fellow Houston CSM apprentice) and I didn't just host the group. We were a part of it. We were to "experience" the week with them. And experience we did!
I won't go into every detail, but the week included everything from eating lunch with men who happen to work as prostitutes to walking and praying at 1am on Friday night in the area of town where most of this takes place. Don't worry- we did all of this with local ministries who have a presence and respect with the people we were reaching out to. It was very safe!
And then there was the van tour. Oh, the van tour. I had heard a lot about Elijah Rising. They are somewhat of a local celebrity around Houston. An incredibly powerful ministry with an amazing story. I had been eager for months to spend the day with them and glean the knowledge and wisdom they so happily offer. I had anticipated seeing a large number of brothels and cantinas and strip clubs as well as learning many details of what all goes on behind the scenes and how it all happens. And we did see and learn all of that. It was hard and sad and heartbreaking and angering all at once. At one point we even witnessed several girls going to work in a club and precisely one minute later, 3 Johns pulled up in their BMWs. Businessmen. With nice suits and wedding rings. (Yes-I could see the rings.) They pulled right into the customer parking, stared right at us in the van, and walked inside. A reality check if I ever needed one. This is not something that gross scummy people are involved in. This is our typical suburban husband and father.
The most incredible thing to me with this experience, though, wasn't in seeing everything. It wasn't in witnessing acts on the street or in the windows of the clubs at 1:30 in the morning that I shouldn't ever have to see. It wasn't in seeing all the flourishing brothels and knowing the owner's names. It was Cat.
Cat is the founder of Elijah Rising. She gave us the van tour this week. And what that did for me was unexpected and awesome.
As you probably know, I have been learning about and becoming passionate about trafficking for about 6 months now. Christine Caine and her campaign began something that goes down to my bones. And a few months ago I began speaking about it constantly. I just wanted others to know. To be aware. To see the need for us to be the voices of the trapped and oppressed. And the response I received was, well, heartbreaking for me. Disappointing. non-existent. And I became angry and fiery about that. I didn't understand how people could sit back and do nothing. To me there was just no excuse. I understand passivity and annoyance over things political and even *gasp* religious. But I was talking about basics: those innocently trapped in one of the most evil industries imaginable. All of humanity stripped from them as they literally have their lives, voices, and all hope taken away. This is something that should matter to any person walking the earth: because there is no way of saying it couldn't happen to you, your daughter, sister, niece. When I went home for Christmas, I had a few friends bring it up. Tell me they appreciate that something has touched me but that maybe I should take it down a notch. Not talk about it so often. Be more quiet. Understand that people have lives and other priorities. And that having any anger over this isn't good.
All I could think was "REALLY?! Respect that people have lives and other priorities?! The problem I'm talking about is innocent people having THEIR lives, priorities and HUMANITY completely torn from them in one instant. Over 100,000 of those sold into slavery each year are American youth-so I don't understand how we can refrain from doing something."
I suddenly began feeling so completely defeated.
I just assumed my friends must be right. And I decided to shut up.
So I was taken by surprise this week when I met Cat. Cat is a crazy, vocal, extroverted, bold, audacious and undaunted woman. And she's not just spouting off. She's quite intelligent. ( She was formerly a Sociology professor.) And her passion to end the injustice of human trafficking is fiery and gorgeous. She isn't in your face and she isn't pushy. She just stands bold and unmovable. It's contagious. She understands the power of prayer as the sharpest weapon available to us, and therefore insists that the organization be founded on it. They go as far as to have music-lead prayer intercessory meetings. Is this charismatic? Yes. Does it make people uncomfortable? Maybe. But when you see and hear-that consistently-the places Elijah Rising has prayed over have fallen and been shut down-often within days or weeks- it's hard to argue with any of it. As Cat educated us and showed us ways in which we really can do something, I thought back over the last few months. And I thought about what she was saying. And some deep truth became clear to me.
Cat has made a gigantic difference in Houston. And it's only begun. Christine Caine has paved the way for rescues, stings, and safehouses all over the globe. And they're continuing to expand. The thing I notice about these women is this: They ask the Lord what works. They find it. They do it. They are bold. They do not shut up or stop. Ever. Their passion drives an unrelenting energy. They do things that may seem uncomfortable or crazy. They know how to take spiritual authority over things or situations. They go to extremes to make sure their own lives maintain a sort of "extra" innocence, integrity, and covering of the Spirit. Hold themselves to a stricter and higher standard. And they don't try to hide it or apologize for any of it. And they're changing history.
This week has taught me that I need to be bolder. But not in the ways I thought: speaking out, making sure I'm heard, etc....No, I need to be bolder about being a woman of truth and integrity, guarding myself even if it means I need to refrain from things that could be deemed "harmless" at the expense of being misunderstood. Because being THAT kind of woman rather than just spouting off all the time is what will truly make things happen. I need to be willing to do things that are uncomfortable. For me and for others. I want to grasp authoritative and intercessory prayer. I don't fully understand or flourish in that. I don't have a charismatic background. But I want to be powerful enough and have faith bold enough to watch something crumble or watch someone heal at the words that leave my mouth. And I am tired of being scared of that. I am tired of the smallness of my faith and prayer just because I am afraid of the different. Of the more intense. And of what I'll look like to others. (Heaven forbid I should let go of my funny Child-like Disney identity for the sake of literally being the hands and feet of Jesus.) I want a passion that produces contagious and unrelenting energy. To be so in love with my Jesus that it inevitably bubbles over and lingers in every place I walk like a fine and rich perfume. I want to walk passed the line of where my comfort zone ends. Because that, I believe, is the key. That is where life really begins. And where those people who do the most powerful things for the kingdom live.