Six years ago I had a revelation: In the United States, I can go for months at a time without needing to rely on God. I know someone will say, “You can’t even BREATHE without relying on God,” and yes, thank you. But practically, being a privileged person living in a privileged country, I am free to rely on myself to succeed in life. Prayers become something more like wishes than declarations of God’s provision.
This realization was one of my main motivators to get involved in mission work. I loved the fact that being out of my comfort zone, doing something difficult and worthy, I would HAVE to rely on God to provide and protect in ways I could normally avoid. Don’t get me wrong. I still very much over-rely on my own self-sufficiency. But in these last three months, I have seen how cool it is to trust in God.
For instance. I have learned that God HATES the sex trafficking that goes on in Athens, and he is determined to use Dina and her team to bring healing to girls who have been abused by this dangerous world we live in. (If you are thinking, “why doesn’t God just stop sex trafficking at the beginning?” or “why Athens and not *insert location here*, WELCOME FRIEND, let’s talk about our doubts and angers.) The thing is, I cannot understand the big picture of trafficking and how God can be good while working so slowly…but I can see the small picture. God is making HD happen, and I feel so happy that I’m here to see it.
After months of prayers and planning, it’s happening! HD is opening, and we begin our Day Program today with “A.” She is another answer to prayer. She has been out of trafficking for six years now. She wants to help other girls who have escaped, but she knows she needs some emotional training before that can happen. I can already see how she will be a bridge between us and the other girls, since she’s already taught me so much about how girls who are trafficked think.
(Did you know that there are crime rings where people ask trafficked girls to get pregnant so that they can sell their babies to families wanting to adopt? They promise the girls their kids will be placed in a good home, often offer the girl thousands of dollars, a lighter or non-existent work load, and throw in some vacations for good measure. A DREAM for anyone, let alone someone who is forced to have sex with dozens of clients every day. The catch? The crime ring blackmails the family who takes the baby, demanding more and more money under threat of revealing their illegal adoption.)
(Also, the girls will not trust us. Their whole life is built on people using them, and they will assume we are no different. Sure, we might seem nice, and we might offer them a better deal than the one they have, but eventually, they expect the other shoe will drop and we’ll say, “Okay, HERE’S what we want from you. The trick here will be…we need to make sure we don’t live down to their expectation.)
Back to “A,” who I won’t talk about often (because I don’t want to tell her story without her permission and make her feel used), but the point is: she will be an incredibly necessary and unique participant, AND we couldn’t ask for a better beginning. She already has so much self-awareness and healing, and it will be such a joy to have a month of lessons with her while Francisca and I figure out exactly how we will run the Day Program.
Dina leaves for the States soon. She will be visiting four different cities and doing fundraising for HD, so we decided that until she comes back, we will only run the Day Program with “A.” That means new participants joining us is still in the future. And it means that the safe house part of HD won’t open until mid-May. This is the first of many momentous occasions to come, and I am so excited to celebrate each and every one.