Harsh title, I know. I just listened to a Francis Chan devotional on James 5 and it cut me to the quick. Even though I feel a strong desire to help protect children I allow myself to be easily discouraged by lack of funds or lack of time or lack of attention.. I think I'm not good enough or my voice is not loud enough, or I'm not well-known enough or don't have enough of this or that to make a difference. I forget that we have a God who provides our every need and who MULTIPLIES the gifts we give. Like the boy in Matthew 14 who gave away his five loaves and two fish - Jesus fed FIVE THOUSAND people with it! Today I also read, in 2 Kings 4:1-7, the prophet Elisha had a widow pour the only oil she had from one little jar into all the jars she was given by her neighbors! She was able to FILL all the jars before her one little jar was empty and sell the oil to pay her debts.
Does that sound unbelieveable? Here's another one: Corrie Ten Boom, in her book The Hiding Place, describes an amazing experience in prison camp. She managed to get a small bottle of liquid vitamins, which she shared with her sister and twelve to 25 other women in the prison day after day. The liquid in the bottle did not run out until the day that someone smuggled in several huge jars of vitamins. There are many other true stories in addition to this one that show how the Lord provides in extreme circumstances.
My point? That idea that we need to have more to be successful or happy. We have everything we need and MORE but somehow it just isn't enough. We become preoccupied with the things we have because it takes time and energy to care for those things.. and then we accumulate more.
In 2016 an older, nicely dressed gentleman knocked on our door and offered to buy our house with cash. His actual words were, "I have more money than I need, so I'd like you to tell me what you need to walk away with and we will walk backward from there. Since it is such short notice (he wanted to close on this sale within 2 months) you can stay here rent free while you search for a new home". #TRUESTORY! He had relatives living in our neighborhood and wanted to bring his sister here from California. She was elderly and had bad hips, so she needed a ranch home, and, he said, ours was perfect. The timing was also amazing because we had been praying about when and if we were to move to a LESS well-to-do area. It was a beautiful house - I still call it "My Healing House" - and it was exactly what we needed for the one year that we were there, but we did not fit into that neighborhood and it was TOO nice inside to raise small children.
God had blessed us with that gift after an extremely difficult year filled with many losses. One huge one was that Hubby had lost his job due to an injury so we had to live on his lump-sum retirement. Just when that money was close to running out, our hobby farm sold. There was just enough of a profit from that sale that we had enough to buy My Healing House with cash. If you don't have an income you can't get a mortgage. But here was a beautiful house that had just come on the market as a foreclosure, and our cash offer was accepted! Leaving the farm, which had been my "dream home" for five years, was a tremendous loss in itself. But as I reflected back on all of the events I realized that God had stripped away all of the things that were hindering us from being and doing what He wanted us to do. We wanted to become foster parents while we lived there, but something crazy always happened to prevent that from happening. We even nearly adopted twins, but after three months their birth mother changed her mind and took them back. That was the cherry on the cake, so to speak. Truthfully, while we had the twins I had to let go of my gardens, greenhouse, businesses (I had several little UNprofitable ones), milking goats, and crafts. The babies became my focus. When they were gone, I felt completely deflated, robbed, heart broken beyond words. They were more important to me than anything else. None of the other things even mattered anymore.
Starting over in My Healing House was the best thing that could have happened. Hubby got a part time job. I was able to grieve, let myself fall into the arms of Jesus and heal, not just from the losses of the past 4 years, but also from the emotional and spiritual attacks from my childhood abuse. I had to learn how to ACCEPT the love of Jesus, not just try to give it from my own secretly hurting heart. Although looking back, I was so consumed with my own grief that I didn't notice my son and daughter who were still living with us were also grieving. I wish I could go back and do that differently so that they could have been included in my healing. I hope and pray that somehow God allows me to make that up to them.
To finish the story, after the gentleman who made us the cash offer left My Healing House, we discovered that the home we had wanted to see only a few months earlier had come back on the market as a foreclosure! It had been previously set up as a day care in the fully finished walk-up basement and the entire yard was fenced. There was a nice play structure in the big back yard and the whole set-up of the house was perfect for fostering children! We immediately contacted our realtor- friend from church and knew as soon as we walked in that this was the right place for us. Long story short by the time we closed on the sale of My Healing House about one month later, receiving nearly twice what we had paid for it, the price of our current home had come down into our range. Our cash offer was accepted and we moved in only about 3 weeks later (you can't get a mortgage on a part time income). Another three months later we received our license to be foster parents, and two weeks after that we received our first foster child, who is now permanently our daughter! Last year my husband finally reached FULL time status, someone special provided us a 2nd vehicle only a few weeks before our 2nd foster child was placed with us, now we are in the process of adopting him! All within the span of less than four years. When God wants something to happen it doesn't matter how little we have, HE makes it possible!
I shared the above story because I think there are LOTS of wonderful people in the world who really want to do great things. I also think lots of those wonderful people don't realize that God doesn't need our extra stuff or super intelligence or fame to accomplish His plans. If He puts a spark in your heart for providing clean water to third world countries but you tell yourself that you'll never be able to go there until you do or learn or acquire this or that, you might spend your entire life trying to do and learn and acquire... Eventually that spark will die. But if you take note of that spark, like putting a sticky note on your fridge, keep visiting it once in a while and asking God about it, eventually (or soon depending on God's plan) He will turn the spark into a flame and He will start putting people, places and things in your path.. or he might physically uproot you like He did with us so that HE can lead you toward actually fulfilling what really is HIS CALL. And you will be able to say, "Wow! Look at the MIRACLE GOD DID!!", instead of "I'm so great, look what I did all by myself with all my hard work."
That brings me to the spark that started in my heart many years ago.. The spark has sometimes flamed up over the years and other times died down, but after this morning's devotional it has turned into a fire that I just have to allow to spread. This fire is the protection of the children of the world from sexual abuse and human trafficking. Especially the ones around me. There are WAY too many children suffering in our own country, in our own neighborhoods here in the USA. I believe it is because most of us are too caught up in our busy worlds - like I was before God stripped it all away - to notice that someone else besides us is hurting or to have the time to spend on them.
Maybe we believe we know enough or are already doing enough and don’t need the help or the education. I thought I was pretty educated on Human Trafficking due to my own research, but attending Amy Joy's Human Trafficking Seminar last weekend was even more eye opening than I expected. I learned some hugely important things that I believe EVERYONE needs to know. Not only is human trafficking a terrible GROWING epidemic because it is the most lucrative disgusting business in the world, it is driven by BUYERS who come from allllll walks of life. I'm thrilled that traffickers and johns are being caught left, right and center, and victims are being rescued. But the perps are not being sentenced long enough time and victims have no place to go because of the shortage of beds (Rehab and extended support for victims to start over). The victims often fall back into trafficking because THEY HAVE NOWHERE ELSE TO GO. There are some HUGE needs here!!
REMEMBER even if we don't have much, we CAN do something to make a difference. If you have even a little spark in your heart to fight this epidemic here are some things YOU can do:
1. PRAY for Human Trafficking victims to be found sooner than later. They only have a life expectancy of 7 years! Pray for the anti-trafficking organizations, police, and volunteers who fight to rescue victims and bring the criminals to justice. Pray for the judges and court systems to apply strong sentencing to the criminals and not to accuse the victims of the crimes they were trapped in. Pray for more hearts to open and provide resources, therapists, shelters and jobs! Pray for victims to heal and be able to start new lives without fear. Pray for parents and caregivers to open their eyes and pay attention and become aware of teachers, coaches, acquaintances, friends and family, and even church leaders who are #GROOMING them and their children so they can prevent their children from being sexually abused.
2. GIVE to an organization who is helping victims. Such as Restoration Place. Help them by providing beds, toiletries, clothing, funds to pay staff. If you own a business, provide JOBS for teens and women to start their lives over. Build a shelter/home yourself if you have the funds! Or become a foster parent yourself for the purpose of giving HT victims or abused and neglected children a safe place to heal.
3. JOIN the movement against human trafficking. Get involved with an anti-human trafficking task force, (here’s another one in Michigan https://www.michiganabolitionistproject.org/liveauction) or other organization near you that actually seeks out traffickers and rescues victims, or that travels around your city, county, or state to educate the public on human trafficking and child sexual abuse.
4. TEACH AND EMPOWER YOUR CHILDREN and the children you are close to. Like I said above, I THOUGHT I knew a lot about Human Trafficking until I actually attended a seminar. You might think you know a lot about how to protect your children from becoming victims. You may come from a great Christian family with no skeletons in the closet and therefore don't need anyone to tell you how to affirm and build up your children. I'm happy for you.. but that means you are a step ahead of the majority and we need you to help others by speaking love into their lives. I'm only where I am today because of Christian people who intervened in my life. That's why God put on my heart this spark that turned into a book to help others protect their children. I hope you will consider ordering this book that could not only save a child's innocence and life, but also give that child a life time of precious memories of the time spent with you! Join me in Raising PEARLS: Prepared, Empowered, Armored, Restored, Loved & Secure Children. None of us can accomplish this Monumental task by ourselves. It will take ALL of us Working together. Maybe even a huge miracle.
Read all of James 5 but especially verses 5&6: "You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you” (In my opinion if you are IGNORING the problem then you are contributing to it).
"Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life." Proverbs 22:4