I remember finding out about human trafficking and the orphan crisis all in one Sunday. In the months following, I attended local awareness events and scoured the internet for articles and initiatives. After the shock that turned to grief turned to compassion, I was spurred to action.
After all, if someone like me does not help, who will? Shall the trodden help the downtrodden? Survivors helping victims is beautiful, effective in ways I cannot touch. But I, with my stable circumstances and healthy upbringing, have something else to offer. Who should help the weak if not the strong? Isn’t it obvious that the healthy should nurse the sick? If children are protected, what trickster can snatch them? If the unloved are loved, what trafficker can clutch them? In that sense, the child trafficking crisis is the orphan care crisis. Helping at-risk children felt to me like a new found responsibility.
But opportunities to help eluded me. You may have experienced a similar letdown. You click the how to help button on a nonprofit organization’s (NPO) website and the word “Donate” fills the white space. You’re disappointed. Maybe you donate; maybe you already give a lot elsewhere; maybe you have little. But mostly you want to do something more personal, more involved. Another website suggests calling legislators, telling a friend and raising awareness on social media. You do. But that too feels inadequate. You reason, what could little you do anyway? You’re not trained in counseling or law enforcement or social work. Plus you’re busy. You factor, if a lot of people fund the work of a few people, that could make a bigger difference than scrapping up a scatter of ill-equipped volunteers like you. Should you adopt? Oh that seems so extreme. You wrestle with yourself reasoning, “Maybe I’m being selfishly picky in my service or maybe I’m looking for a feel-good kick or maybe I’m trying to quench some moral guilt. Maybe I should stop.”
While motives are important to evaluate, don’t be too quick to blame your flesh as if your dream need be corrected. The Holy Spirit is a planter of crazy dreams and the supplanter of self-centered living. Your desire is not selfish. He put in you specific passions and abilities to do the good he planned for you to do. Don’t look from side to side at the lifestyles of the passive. Even believers often forget what they already know- that ease and popularity do not light the way to a purpose-driven life. The fact that your prayerful inclinations feel counter cultural and even radical may prove their verity, not your error. Maybe this restlessless inside you really is from the Lord and not your own self-centered discontented flesh.
Ask God to show you your role in saving lives and changing society. Your part may not be listed on a how to help link. Be creative and never discount prayer. Prayer itself may be your calling. Prayer may be your calling for three years before He reveals another assignment. I will list some possibilities here, since I know you want them. I think intervention boils down to two categories: indirect ways and direct ways. Indirect ways include aforementioned donating, pushing legislation, raising awareness, getting trained to spot and report injustices (especially if you work in medicine, law, law enforcement, education, etc.) and fundraising whether by running a 5K, repairing a house, or hosting an event among other things. Both indirect and direct intervention are important, but expect direct ways to be more intrusive, possibly beyond your comfort zone and exactly what your soul may be seeking. Opportunities include mentoring at-risk youth, mentoring a whole family, volunteering to advocate for a child in in court, foster parenting, adopting, providing respite for adoptive or foster families, helping a young adults aging out of care, eagerly practicing hospitality, taking tender care of those who are weak, inviting the struggling into your home and more. This list is by no means exhaustive. Your way may be revolutionary. Pray and get ready to be creative.
To finish my own story, I volunteered remotely with the Not For Sale Campaign for a year while praying and reading then initiated an anti-trafficking ministry at my church. The ministry led to my co-founding a restoration home and prevention program. I will share my testimony sometime soon. Now I advocate and write. I am attending CAFO this spring and am excited to discover the next leg of the journey.
Stay tuned for more ideas! I’m excited to introduce a new series of story time interviews. I hope the real life stories embolden you.
In the mean time, listen to more short idea-generating testimonies from the National Foster Care Initiative Symposium like this one by Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans: