I don’t even know how to start this post, to be honest.
I will tell you that I’m sure it will be long. Buckle up.
I have a lot that I want to say, and too much of it doesn’t make sense in my head yet.
Lately, I’ve been avoiding writing because I’m afraid of what will fly from my fingertips. If I’m going to be totally vulnerable, I think there are a lot of new things going on deep in my soul that I haven’t quite sorted out just yet, and I’m not sure how to communicate with you anyway.
The place in which I frequently find myself lately is this place of total brokenhearted sadness.
Just overwhelming, Jesus-don’t-make-us-wait-any-longer sadness.
A while ago I wrote a post about just waking up and starting to find myself and who I am again now that my kids are no longer babies.
As a part of this new awakening, I’m starting to see the world differently than I did before. Now I see with the eyes of an older, wiser woman – and most importantly, as a mom.
I’m beginning to wake up to the reality that people in all corners of the world are facing a depth of despair that I will never know.
I’ve only begun learning about the world of human trafficking, slavery, and poverty.
I didn’t have to get very far into it to be consumed by the fact that so many things are not right.
Parents are selling one child in order to feed their other children.
Men and women have been promised money and a job only to be trapped in a never-ending cycle of debt, violence, and inhumanity.
Families are fleeing their villages, abandoning their homes due to genocide, arriving at refugee camps that only serve as breeding grounds for exploitation and oppression.
Hundreds of girls are kidnapped from school simply because they’re in school, and are then sold as child brides for less than $25.
Mothers are going to sleep tonight hungry, hoping that at least their children ate enough to keep them alive through the night.
Instead of using their fishing boats to catch fish, many of Thailand’s fishermen are now converting their boats to transport people by the hundreds in deplorable conditions for human trafficking syndicates.
Cities in our own country burn and grieve because there are too many strained relationships, unfair histories, and broken systems and not enough compassionate people.
Women, teenagers, and children, are trafficked in the very hotels where we stay with our families for vacation.
The list is never-ending.
The numbers are staggering.
The prospect is overwhelming.
The workers seem so few.
And so, my soul is aching.
It’s groaning under the weight of the amount of evil that is evident in so many facets of so much of this world, near and far.
I’m not sure how to make much of a point with this post other than to say this:
It has to start with us.
I don’t know what God is ultimately doing with me through all of this. I can tell you this, though…I’m glad He’s waking me up.
As I’m diving deeper into this new reality, Jesus is softening my heart. He’s giving me new eyes.
New eyes that see the consequences of my choices to purchase certain clothing, makeup, food, or toys. New eyes that see the evidence of pain, poverty, and suffering in my own backyard. New eyes that see homelessness in our own city in a new light.
New eyes to see exactly what Jesus meant when He asked us to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and tend to the sick.
When I think about raising my boys to be Spartans, I have to consider these things. I want them to become men who think outside of themselves and are protectors and champions for the least of these, just as Jesus commanded. I want them to see those around them with compassion and love – take up their crosses and follow Him.
I want them to fight for justice and defend the weak.
So now, more than ever, this is an important place for me to be.
When all is said and done, I don’t know where all of these things will take me, and I think that’s why I’ve been afraid to write about it. I don’t like not having a nicely wrapped up story and lesson for you. There’s not a neat little conclusion to this one.
Instead, I will leave you with some of the things that I have been finding helpful, eye-opening, informative, and important.
This is a book that I hope you read. It’s such a good place to start. This book changed. my. life.
When you click on this link, it will take you Jen Hatmaker’s website, and it will have all kinds of links for places and ways to buy the book. Watch the video at the bottom of the page where she explains why she wrote this book. And then buy the book and read it – you just won’t be sorry.
There is a lot to read on this site. You could spend days here learning about all the ways people all over the world experience slavery. At least look through their home page – there’s a lot there!
On their “About Us” page, MIAFW states:
“Made In A Free World believes that changing the world takes everyone. We are a network of individuals, groups, and businesses working together to disrupt slavery and make freedom go viral. We produce innovative campaigns, on the ground projects, consumer engagement tools, and business solutions designed to get slavery out of our system. Our dream is simple. One day everyone and everything will be Made In A Free World.”
If you want to be very humbled…take the challenge to find out how many slaves work for you. Be sure to refine your answers on the menu that expands on the left-hand side of the screen.
Just to be honest, I didn’t go through and actually count shirts, shorts, or other items, but I estimated very quickly. Regardless, the answer was staggering. If it’s anything close on either side, I am still not okay. Between just my kids and me, they estimated that 114 slaves work for us – it makes me want to vomit.
If you do nothing else, like this organization on Facebook. It will give you a taste of what they do on a daily basis. They will also give you the tools and information to begin changing your spending habits, and the avenues to speak up to your favorite companies to demand that they put a stop to forced labor in their supply chains.
So this is another way that Jen Hatmaker has changed my life. Go to the “About” section and research this organization and get in on the ground floor. Again, I promise you won’t be sorry. Check out the “Causes” page to see the kinds of people this organization is committed to fighting for…you might cry. I did. Bonus fun fact: the Hatmakers started this with Scott and Tracie Hamilton (yes, that Scott Hamilton) and Willie and Korie Robertson (of Duck Dynasty), among others.
If you are looking for something to do to contribute to a solution, it’s important to find an organization that effectively addresses the problem. This is one such organization.
FMSC has perfected the human assembly line and the art of packing nutritionally sound meals in a hurry. Two hours of your time with a group of people can result in thousands of meals that will last dozens of children for a full year.
And this is an opportunity for your whole family to get involved. Children over 5 are welcome to pack meals. Sign up for a two hour slot with your family, or get a big group together and do it as a great night out!
This is an organization that started right here in my area of Arizona in 2007 and has since gone nationwide to address the “growing pandemic of child sex trafficking occurring throughout the United States and in their own backyard.”
Go to their website and be prepared to be filled with a burning righteous anger.
As a mom, this might be one of the issues that breaks my heart the most. As a mom of boys, it’s the one I feel like have the biggest responsibility to immerse myself in right now.
There are so many more causes that I could address, but for now, my heart can’t take any more. There is homelessness, veteran neglect, genocide, the orphan crisis…the list goes on.
I hope that you click through some of these links. There will be more to come.
I know I’ve probably just sent you into a tailspin of information and sadness and you’ve probably already thought, “It’s so much! What can I do? It’s horrible, but I’m just one person and I just can’t do much. I’m on information overload, so the best thing to do would be…anything else.”
I know, because that’s been me for quite a while.
But I think the answer is to seek out the one or two things that break your heart more than the others. Sit down for a while and have a discussion with Jesus about which of these things He’s got you signed up for.
Click through these links and do some research for yourself. It’s time we started waking up, and I hope that you’ll join me and we can wake up together.
Join me in educating ourselves on how to be Jesus’ hands and feet to a broken world that needs His love so desperately.
I’m one person. You’re one person. But together, we are Spartans.
Leave me a comment here or on Facebook or send me a message and let me know what all of this means to you. Send me links of things that you’ve been learning, other organizations you know of that help in any of these areas. Let me know what breaks your heart, too.