This past January I attended Passion Conference with some of my best friends. The emphasis was on freedom, particularly human trafficking, and my heart was completely shattered. I have, for several years, had a passion to speak out against injustice and in particular sex trafficking. I believe that the Lord uses your life, your past, and your situations to equip you to serve in ways you cannot even imagine or fathom. And I believe the way he begins to reveal those things to you is by breaking your heart. For me it was feeling connected, I felt like my past could in some tiny way connect to people who are hurting because of this injustice, and that connection quickly moved into brokenness. I would cry myself to sleep every night. Often for no particular reason other than I had so many emotions and had no way of letting them out other than to simply cry. That never goes away -I still cry myself to sleep at least 3 nights a week because I don’t know how else to handle all of the emotion I still feel. And then last January I am sitting in the Georgia Dome with about 40,000 other students and for the Lord to just throw my passion in my face - unbelievable. I am still in shock. I have always believed that I will eventually work in ministry and with injustices across the globe - after grad school and marriage, and 3 kids, and money, etc. It is funny how we plan ourselves… At Passion last year in my Community Group another girl prayed over me and I will never forget the things she said, she was talking about how when Christine Caine, a leader of a global anti trafficking organization, was speaking about the 99% and the 1% and how most of us sitting in the room were the 99% who were SO needed, who would back these crazy organizations in prayer and financially, and the 1% would be the ones who actually went. Then MacKenzi, this girl in my Community Group paused in her prayed held my hand tighter and looked me in the eyes and said, "Luv, you are one of the 1%...live into that. Live a life worthy of the high calling you have received." Whoa...yes, she went all Paul on me. Prophesied over me...and I about passed out cold in the Burgundy Community Group room. Then I went home, totally broken. I graduated college in May and had a huge plan of going to graduate school (I don't believe that's a bad plan...just my plan, and totally not what God had in store). However, the Lord opened a door, ok, he swung open a double wide gate and asked me to blindly trust him and walk through it.
So today I am writing from my office at Stella's Voice, an anti-trafficking organization based out of Montgomery, Alabama. I am not preparing for graduate school at Emory University where I was granted admission into my desired program with a scholarship. My parents have a minor panic attack every time they think about the fact that I have not getting the Masters degree that we have talked about since I was little…at least not right now. But it is totally fine, because in the past few months I have realized what all of this is about. Our vision is to be the voice that speaks for the orphans of Moldova, from the smallest child, to the aged out teen. We have three different types of homes in Moldova - Stella's house for girls, Simon's house for boys, and Providence house for children. We are in the process of building more. The girls actually started their own church...it's crazy, they didn't feel accepted in the churches in the city because they are orphans, so they started having their own services and close to 160 people have come to know the Lord in the short time they have been having Church together. It is amazing. We have a goal of building a space for them to actually house their Church in between two of the girls’ houses.
This summer several of the girls came over to the States to do a fundraising tour, because as you can imagine, it takes a ton of money to run an organization like this. We have to pay the housing, utilities, food, and everything else you can imagine for all of the girls, the boys, plus the little ones. So, a few of the girls came to the States to travel to Churches and share their story. These girls were orphans. They are no longer. THEY ARE ADOPTED. Not only into our family but they KNOW that they are daughters of GOD. It is amazing. Some of the girls that are here right now are girls that six months ago had never heard the name of Jesus, and now He is all they care about it. I just met these girls and I can tell that every time I look at them. One week this summer I was watching them talk and sing "Our God" by Chris Tomlin on stage and these girls sang with every bit of passion in their hearts, "Out of the ashes we rise" ...they know, they have been there. It's incredible.
I also had the opportunity to travel to Moldova where most of our work is taking place. I just got back to the States this week. I am still processing everything. These kids are growing up in a country that marks them as orphans, as no good, as nothing. It is devastating to see. Our ministry provides hope for those who are hopeless, but even with the works we are doing there are thousands of other children and teenagers still at risk of being trafficked, still being abused, still hurting, still without hope, simply because we don’t have the resources to bring them all into our program.
One of the main things I am in charge of here at Stella’s Voice is getting the word out to college students about this problem. They think because I am recently graduated I will be good at that haha :)
I never thought at just barely 22 years old my job would be this. Craziness everyday. Trying to communicate in Romanian. Trying to love on kids who have never in their lives felt loved. But, praise the Lord he has placed me here. I go to sleep crying almost every night because I am so overwhelmed by it and so overjoyed.
The rest of this blog is something I wrote only three days after returning from a trip to Moldova (it has now been eighteen days, and everything written is still true. It is crazy that I am crying myself to sleep, that I am still unable to completely break down in front of my best friends, mentors, and family. I am not ready to talk about everything. I am not okay. Only the Lord understands. Only he knows my heartbreak, and I rest in that. Please bear with me as I commutate my thoughts to only after only being back in the States for a few days!
Here I sit, in my office, only being back in the States three days, living into the “calling” on my life, not being able to shake the things I saw and experience one week ago in the tiny country of Moldova. I have cried myself to sleep every night this week, with the exception of one night – that night jet lag caused me to pass out without even realizing what was happening…but every other night, I just get in my bed, I am no longer surrounded by people and I can no longer hold in the emotion. I can’t talk about it, it is too hard, and no one gets it. So I just cry. I ask God why the heck I was born here, in America, into a family who loves me and kept me, and would never dream of selling me into the hands of traffickers, or rapists. I have literally screamed at God this week, begging him to show me why if someone hurts me in a terrible way they undoubtedly go to jail, but I met countless faces in Moldova who had stories of being hurt and the person who hurt them was just living life like nothing had ever happened. If the roles were reversed, if they were here in the States, the man who tried to rape his little girl – jail. The father who threw an axe at his little girls head – jail. The mom who beats her children – jail. The uncle who doused his niece in gasoline and threw her in the fire – jail. But in Moldova, it is the victim who has to live in captivity, not the predator.
My heart is seriously in pieces. I know that we have the chance to do something. Here in America we have so many resources, we have opportunities at every turn, and often times we just look past them. But right now, we have a choice – we can do something. We can be a voice for these that are voiceless. We can raise awareness in our communities about human trafficking, about abuse, about injustice, we can be their VOICE. We can raise the money it takes to open up more homes to house these young boys and girls so they no longer have to be held in captivity. We can be the change. I believe that God is good. I know he is truth. I know that promise. And He IS good. He is the healer, the provider, and the comforter for those in need – and with him EVEN THIS can be overcome. For HE has overcome.
It doesn’t make this any easier. It doesn’t make my heart hurt any less knowing that Patricia, the little girl burned almost to death by her uncle, is sleeping right now in a room next door to that man. It doesn’t make my heart ache any less to hold on to the little boy in the government run orphanage with no hope in his eyes. But it does give me drive.
In Moldova, Stella’s Voice currently has 2 houses for girls, 1 for boys, and a Christian orphanage for little ones. We are in the process of building another building and a church that will house 75 more girls. Even then with almost 200 precious young Moldovans in our program there are thousands more that are hopeless. If we can continue to step up, to be a Voice for them, to raise money and awareness, eventually we can bring all of them in to our program. They can here the saving name of Jesus – possibly for the first time. They can be hugged. They will be loved.
Let the Lord break your heart. Then step out in faith – be Stella’s Voice.