give hope: day sixteen

“Take whatever fears and insecurities you have, your internal questions and doubts and turn them into words that inspire. Don’t give up. And don’t let others give up. The cost is too great. We can’t miss out on what you have to say.”

Part of my job with Wings means I get to attend Human Trafficking events/symposiums and try to recruit volunteers and just glean as much information as I can from the lectures and speakers. I honestly love it; it’s such a joy to be around others who are passionate about fighting the same evil and to see them bring their particular skills to the table. Today we had several speakers, but the one that was the most informative for me was the Detective for the Human Trafficking Task Force based in Collier County. I can spit out facts about human trafficking like a pamphlet on legs, but I’m still learning about the federal and state laws and how they work together.

I’ve barely even scraped the surface of this world with only one full year under my belt, but the dangerous reality of burnout is everywhere here. You can hear it in the voices of case workers over the phone, see it in the eyes of legal representation, feel it in the prayers of social workers and church people alike. There is so much to fight–not just easily identifiable pimps and johns, but the convoluted emotions wrapped up in love and lust and being told your whole life that they’re one and the same. There’s the red tape of building a case, there’s the foster system and Department of Children and Families, finding volunteers, counseling, heart ache, PTSD, spiritual wounds, broken families, etc.

There’s so much to fight and there are so many affected by this monster. Men and women, children and adults, rich and poor–everyone. For every one girl we are able to take into Wings and pour all our love and resources into for weeks, months, years–there are thousands of others that we don’t get to. For every girl we love, there’s no guarantee that they’ll accept that love and no guarantee that they’ll even want the help we’re offering. Boyfriends and phones and trips to the nail salon are missed constantly and everyone misses their old freedoms, and I don’t even blame them. That’s the most complicated part of all. The paperwork I have to file means inevitably encountering phrases like “consistent reports of abuse since the child was six years old”, and horror stories of foster homes gone wrong.

It drains the life right of you. How are you supposed to look evil in one of it’s many hideous faces without having to close your eyes? There’s something wrong with having to see it all the time; it does something to your heart. There’s a tiredness that never leaves, that clings to your boots like mud after a long walk in the woods.

And yet, we cannot give up.

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And we won’t give up. It’s not the numbers that we fight for. Maybe it would be more impressive if we had big numbers, but Jesus hasn’t even been one to focus on the big numbers. Oh, all I have to hold on to some days is the image of the Good Shepherd with all 99 of his little ones snug in the sheepfold for the night, striking out with His cloak around Him for the one foolish little lamb that wandered too far. That is the Jesus I know. That is the Jesus I love. That is the Jesus I serve. I have only five loaves and two fishes, but it is not mine to multiply. All I know is that fighting this has me nestled close to His heart, and there is only light and strength and goodness to be found there with Him. Facing the darkness is only possible from that vantage point and there’s no place I’d rather be.

And so, we hold on to hope.

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