at one point in the evening, Danielle shared with us about love146 and it floored me. i guess i have that empathy gene, inherited from my dad, that i instantly put myself in someone's place and feel their pain and fear and everything else. and i also have those overactive tear ducts from my mom. crying is a normal and instant response for anything and everything that moves me.
love146 is an organization dedicated to preventing child sex trafficking around the world. they're also passionate about aftercare: after these children have been rescued, restoring them to a normal life and bringing them hope, and reminding them that they're beautiful and lovely and of high worth and value.
this was the exact video that we watched:
Love146 Overview from LOVE146 on Vimeo.
Danielle shared a story with us that just struck me to the core. here's how it went down, in so many words:
Rob Morris, who is a co-founder of love146, visited one of their aftercare facilities in the Philippines a few years ago. he was struck by one little girl in particular who was kneeling in the mud, smearing dirt and mud in her hair. the facility director told rob that she was doing this because she felt dirty and worthless and ashamed. this was how she expressed that immense grief and sorrow and pain.
a year later, Rob revisited. a beautiful girl came up and hugged him and wanted to dance. she was lively and happy and innocent. of course, you can guess who it was. it was the little girl who, one year earlier, had felt dirty and discarded and worthless... now dancing and twirling with a grown man, of the same age and type of men who had defiled her for so much of her life. she was restored, she had hope, she was redeemed. that's what the aftercare ministry is all about at love146.
it reminded me of Isaiah 61, of course:
that Christ was sent to bind up the brokenhearted.
He was sent to proclaim freedom for the captive and release from darkness for the prisoner.
to provide for those who grieve and comfort those who mourn.
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes [or mud].
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
it reminded me of Tamar, who was David's daughter, raped by her half brother. she felt dirty and discarded and worthless so she heaped ashes onto her head [read about it in 2 samuel 13]... and it reminded me of this story i shared with you a while ago [from Beth Moore]:
Imagine Tamar: grief-stricken, sobbing, ashes on her head. Her body in a heap on the cold floor. Soot covers her beautiful face and smears the rich colors of her torn robe. Her outward appearance echoes the cavernous darkness in her soul. Hopelessness and death well up in her. She is nothing but a tomb.
The door of her room slowly creaks open. A stream of cloudy sunlight pours through the door. A figure of a man takes form within it. Not Absalom. No, she would recognize Absalom anywhere. Her heart jumps with sickening terror; then the figure steps through the door and His visage becomes clear. Tamar has never seen Him before, yet He looks so familiar. Not frightening. And she should be frightened. No man should be entering her chamber. She should run, but she cannot seem to move.
She glances down at the hands that seem paralyzed on her lap, her palms covered with ash. She suddenly becomes shamefully aware of her appearance. Wretchedness sears her heart. She is certain her violated estate is obvious. She despises herself.
"Tamar," the man speaks gently and with warm familiarity.
Her heart sobs, "She is dead!" A slave of shame has taken her place.
He approaches and takes her face in His hands. No one has ever done that before. The overwhelming intimacy turns her face crimson, not with shame but with vulnerability. His thumbs sweep over her cheeks and wipe the tears from her face. As he takes His hands from her face and places them on her head, her throat aches with fresh cries as she sees the filth on His hands. Her filth. He draws back His hands and she senses something on her head. Perhaps in His mercy He has hooded her disgrace.
The man offers her His hands, still covered with soot, and she takes them. Suddenly she is standing. Trembling. He leads her to the brass mirror hung on the wall. She turns her face away. He lifts her chin. She gives the mirror only a glance. Her heart is startled. She begins to stare. Her face is no longer streaked with dirt. Her cheeks are blushed with beauty; her eyes are clear and bright. A crown sits on her head, and a veil flows from its jewels to her shoulders. Her torn coat is gone. A garment of fine white linen graces her neck and adorns her frame. The King's daughter, pure and undefiled. Beauty from ashes.
we can help bring that same hope and worth to a child who's hurting and suffering right now. a girl who has been kidnapped and captured and drugged and forced to have sex with grown men, all night, every night. i realize that sounds disgusting and completely inappropriate to say it that way, but it's absolute reality. and you're right: it is disgusting.
i just signed up as a "partner in aftercare". you can be a partner in prevention, too. it's a $25/month commitment, and both areas are vitally important. [you can also pay $75/quarter or $300/year, depending how you'd rather make payments]. there are other ways to get involved as well. learn more at the love146 website.
it makes me physically ill, but i can't help imagining my own precious girls sold into modern-day slavery, completely defiled and stripped of all innocence and hope and dignity every.single.night. while the world sits silently doing nothing about it.
** if you decide to "partner" with them [which basically just means, pay the $25/month, $75/quarter, or $300/year], in either the aftercare or prevention [or both] please let me know in the comments. i want to send you three tutorials or printables [or a combination of both] from my shop, you choose which ones you want. just to say thank you, and maybe to give you that last extra incentive and motivation to do it :)