Many people have asked, “why, I was becoming more and more vested in the fight against slavery?” I had another person say to me the other day, “see, you’re lucky because God gave you a heart for this…” That one kind of irritated me, because, while, yes, that is true, God did, God has also showed us in several places of scripture, that a heart that is truly dedicated to him, will prove itself in a life dedicated to justice. Trust me, it is not easy, nor was it easy thinking and learning about what happens to boys and girls caught in the trap of human slavery…you get images stuck in your head that you can’t erase, at times you are full of anger, rage, and despair. It’s not easy, but I have one rule of thumb when God is taking me into a new realm and that new realm confronts all my senses – don’t turn from it when it gets hard, embrace it, even if it means knowing things you didn’t want to know and seeing things you didn’t want to see. Anyway back to the story.
It all started, over 18 years ago, as I sit in a broken down café in Moscow, and I was having one of those moments, where it seemed God was speaking directly to me through his word. The Father burdened me with Proverbs 31:8-9:
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
I had no idea how that was going to be applicable in my life, but I would spend the next 15 years trying to figure it out.
Fast forward 15 years, and I’m back sitting in an orphanage in northern Russia, sitting back in my chair watching an orphan-class perform some song and dance, as they normally do when the Americans come to see them. Watching these kids perform was very surreal for me, as they gave their all, in hopes that they would be appreciated, valued, accepted, and loved. They would lock eyes with you and smile, and then get lost back in their performance. Then as I’m watching these performances, it was like a voice just spoke to me and said, “you didn’t choose to be born in the US with good parents and everything at your fingertips, and neither did your kids...” That was pretty strange until the thought carried further into, “…and these orphans didn’t choose to be born in Russia, into the situations they were born in…” the thought kept going, “…except for my grace, those could be your daughters up there” and all of a sudden, those girls on the stage, those boys dancing their little hearts out, were no longer some distant orphans, that I would never see again, I could only see my son and daughters up there.
That same trip, we were talking with some of the orphan directors, and the conversation of aging out of the homes came up. The directors, with almost no emotion in their voices do to such commonality, simply said, “short of a miracle all these girls you see here will end up raped, beaten, and forced into prostitution and the boys here will be the ones doing this to the girls…” The thought again, arose, “if not for the grace of God, these could be your children“. My children! Except for God’s grace, my children could be raped, sold into prostitution, beaten, and murdered! For distant Russian kids, I would simply cast up a token prayer for them, but I would do much more for my own children, I would re-orient my entire life for their freedom, everything would change, my response would be sacrificial, I would speak up and defend!
A few days later, on that same trip, I had checked into a dump of a hotel room, and after I got to the room, my phone rang. In very broken English the man on the other side said, “are you ready for your room service?” Confused, I said, “wrong room” and hung up on him. I had no idea what was going on. Ten minutes later, the phone rang again, same man, same broken English, but a much more explicit request, I shivered, and hung up the phone. I felt as if someone was watching us, yet I still didnt know what was going on. Later on, I had it explained to me, that the local pimps work alongside hotel managers, and when single guys check into a hotel, the manager would call the pimp to see what he had available, hence room service. Once again, outside of the grace of God, my daughters could be someone elses room service, and the thought, the anger, the rage, and brokenness that filled me demanded a response I didn’t know what I could do, so I began to study, and read, and visit, and pray and the silent screams of the innocent became louder and louder in my soul, and I couldnt silence them.
At that point, you have a choice: you turn a blind eye or a deaf ear, or you simply get in the ring. Well, I’ve decided to get in the ring, my life had to be reoriented around speaking up and defending. I had spent 15 years trying to find who or what that verse applied to in my life, then one cold winter in Russia, the ‘who’ found me, and my life had to become a response to this injustice.
Maybe you are being haunted by some injustice in the world…and yes, I’d encourage you to read and study, and yes, I’d encourage you talk about it, but sooner or later, you need to get in the ring, and fight it…