How did I get started in fighting human trafficking? I’m glad you asked.
It’s My Cat’s Fault.
He was born to two stray cats in or neighborhood during the spring of 2006. Always a cat lover, I had adopted Speckles and his sister, Trouble, by August of that year. Rich grudgingly consented to allow them to share his house.
Don’t they look cute together?
Speckles is the reason I’m now a card-carrying member of law enforcement. I know, he doesn’t look capable of such a feat, does he? But it’s his fault. What did he do to propel me onto this path?
On July 27, 2010, Speckles went missing. He had been sick, vomiting twice in the house. I shooed him outside and told him to go sleep off whatever nasty thing he had eaten that was making him sick. As I eased him out the door with my foot, he looked over his shoulder at me. I will never forget that look. I think that somehow, he knew. He knew that was the last time I would ever see him. I didn’t have a clue.
For two days, I sort of figured he’d come back. Then I got angry. I laid in bed that night, a few days after he disappeared, trying not to wake Rich sleeping beside me. It was about 2:00 AM. This is my clock at 2AM. I stared at it for a while that night.
Now, I am of the opinion that God still speaks to people today. We just have to be listening. No, I don’t think that He’s going to reveal any divine revelations that contradict or add to Scripture. But I do think He will have conversations with us if we allow it.
So that night, roughly 2AM, I demanded that God bring my cat back to me. Yes, I did. I demanded it. I’m sure I probably sounded like a spoiled toddler.
God Said No.
God said no. I heard it. It was inside my head, not actually audible, but I heard it. NO.
I asked God why. Pouted a little, too, if I’m totally honest. Okay, maybe I pouted a lot. Maybe.
The rest of the conversation went something like this: (I’m paraphrasing, but it’s the general idea.)
Me: Why not???
God: It’s a cat.
Me: But it’s MY cat. (pause) Please??
Me: (Silently pouting.)
God: You lost a cat. What about parents who have had a child disappear?
Me: (Speechless. He gave me time to think about this.)
God: You’ve lost a cat, some parents have lost their child…I’ve lost entire people groups. What are you going to do about it?
Then I saw something like a video playing across my mind’s eye. I had my eyes closed at this point, but I felt like I was watching a movie. I saw photos of men, women, girls and boys. They were obviously from a variety of countries. The pictures came faster and faster, the images blurring into one another. Then they stopped.
God got the last word. Again, I don’t remember the exact words, but He essentially said, “Your cat will remain missing to you as a reminder of the job you are to do.”
I cried. No other response seemed worthy.
So…2AM-ish…I’m speechless. God has just rocked my world by showing me people I had no idea existed. He didn’t choose to tell me who they were, or what I should do about them. As a matter of fact, there were no other details.
I finally drifted off to sleep that night, but the images stuck with me as I went about “life as normal” the next few days. Next few days? No, the images are still burned into my brain, and it’s been, what? Almost four years?
I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Speckles was going to remain gone as a reminder of a job assigned to me, yet I hadn’t a clue what that job might entail.
Honestly, for a while I tried to simply forget about it all, but that was hard to do with my remaining cat moping around mewing for her brother. They were so close…for cats anyway.
No matter what I tried, I couldn’t shake the images from that 2AM encounter with God.
I settled down to wait for God to reveal the next move, deciding that I would look for opportunities to find these people from the vision I had seen in my head. Life got back to “normal.”
Daniel started his senior year of high school.
Before I knew it, Sarah was starting her senior year of high school.
Still I had nothing. I was beginning to get scared. While I don’t dare compare myself to the Bible heroes of long ago, I knew that God seemed to have a habit of making people wait.
Consider the following:
- Abraham was 75 years old when God promised to make him into a great nation. He was 100 when Isaac was born.
- Joseph was 17 years old when he dreamed of his family bowing down to him. He was 30 when he entered into the service of Pharaoh. Another 9 years passed before he revealed himself to his brothers and was reunited with his father.
- David was anointed by Samuel to be king over Israel long before he actually took the throne upon Saul’s death.
I could go on with more examples, but you get the idea. It seems to me like He’s good at making people wait. Or maybe He’s just waiting until they actually wait. Like really wait. Like a giving-Him-their-undivided-attention kind of wait.
So I waited. Sort of.
My attention tends to get divided fairly easily. Can anyone else relate?
While I was “waiting,” I brainstormed ways that I could possible help people who needed help. That’s hard when you don’t know who you’re supposed to be helping.
I got to know my neighbors better, thinking they might be needing help.
At the request of our Women’s Ministry Leader, I wrote a mentoring program and launched it at my church, thinking that women might be needing help.
I got involved at my kids’ school. They certainly needed my help, right? Schools always need help.
Then I got serious. I learned how to shoot a gun and got a carry permit. At the time I had no idea why I needed to know how to “sling lead” downrange to hit a target. But I had the impression that I needed to know. Guns scared me. I shot them anyway.
Suddenly, just when I was losing hope and the images of all those people were beginning to fade, everything came into sharp focus. We had just celebrated Christmas 2012. I kicked off the new year by “chaperoning” a college trip to Atlanta for Passion 2013.
What I learned there rocked my world.
Passion 2013 was a conference aimed at college students. It filled the Georgia dome with over 60,000 students and leaders. Led by leaders such as Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin, the conference highlighted the atrocity of modern-day slavery and inspired the “Jesus Generation” to unite in an concerted effort to END IT.
I thought I knew what to expect from the conference. Daniel had attended Passion 2012 that had a similar focus. He had told me about it, and I was curious. I decided to go with our church’s group as a “chaperone,” like college students really needed those. Sarah tagged along because the conference organizers opened it up to high school seniors. Daniel also attended. His fiancé, Iva, was there with their church from Oxford. I was ready for a fun four days.
I had no idea that this event would touch me in such a powerful way.
Here’s a little bit of what I learned:
- Slavery still exists. Estimates are that there are roughly 27 million men, women, boys and girls entrapped in slavery today. 27 million. That’s larger than the population of the entire state of Texas.
- Many of the items we take for granted – things like chocolate, seafood, clothes, jewelry, and smart phones – could very easily have been handled by slaves.
- In particular, sex slavery is rampant. Even in the United States. It’s in more than just our major cities, too. It’s hit small town America.
- College students are capable of raising phenomenal amounts of money. Over $3 million was raised to shine a light on modern day slavery. The money went to organizations who are committed to END IT.
END IT? Yes, END IT. The “End It Movement” was born as a follow-up to the Passion Conferences. It’s how they coordinate raising the funds and distributing them to the partner organizations.
Supporters were asked on a certain day to put a red “x” on their hand to raise awareness. Here’s my attempt.
But it was a video that they showed. That’s what rocked my world. I found the video interesting from the start, but I have to admit, I was a little tired and was only half watching. I found the video on YouTube and watched it again tonight. It was at the 1:39 mark that I froze inside the Georgia Dome, suddenly alone with God in a stadium packed with energetic students.
That’s when I realized that the video I was watching was the vision that had been in my head the night I pouted over Speckles.
Sounds crazy, I know. But it happened. I stood there, unable to move, long after the video ended and the screen went dark. Those around me continued on with the worship service filled with stirring music. I simply stood. Once again speechless before a mighty and powerful God. The words rang in my head, pealing repeatedly:
“What are you going to do about it?”
What was I going to do about it?
I now knew where God was ultimately leading me, but I still have no idea how to get there. It would still take a few months for me to figure out even where I was supposed to begin.
You can watch the video for yourself here.
Ever since then, I have been taking one step at a time.
I have no idea what the next step will be.
But I’m sure it will be a great adventure.