Thank you for sharing your heroes with me. In return, I’d like to share my hero with you.
Several months ago, Sister and I both started feeling restless and aimless. We found ourselves asking God: “What next?” We promised each other we’d get quiet enough to hear His answer.
After some time, I felt God suggest that I start getting up very early in the morning to write to you. I was feeling quite disappointed and misunderstood, because I was hoping He might recommend a nice bathroom remodel or sweepy bangs. But then Sister called and said that God was suggesting that she leave her position at her law firm to accept a fellowship with the International Justice Mission. Apparently God wanted her to move to South Asia to rescue little girls being held as sex slaves and to help prosecute their tormentors.
Kaaaaaay, I said.
I can’t put into words how grateful I am that God didn’t switch-a-roo these suggestions.
Because all of a sudden getting up to write each morning felt very doable.
So I started writing and Sister pursued, won, and accepted a legal fellowship with the International Justice Mission. She leaves for South Asia in January. She is leaving everything she knows to pursue her dream of rescuing girls and securing justice for them. It’s a dangerous mission, but a worthy one to Sister. Because she remembers the quote from Edmund Burke that my dad hung on the wall in our childhood home: “The only thing that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
I bet sometimes my dad wishes he’d hung “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” instead.
Here is the letter that Sister recently sent to our family and friends.
October 30, 2009
Dear Friends and Family,
It is finally feeling like fall here in Virginia – the leaves are starting to glow in yellows and crimsons, the air is cooling and crisping, and it is starting to smell of football and Thanksgiving and everything that is so comforting and hopeful about the transition of the seasons. So this may be just the right time to write to you about a transition in my own world. My newest season begins when I leave my law firm this January to embark on a one-year fellowship in South Asia with the human rights organization International Justice Mission.
I will spend the year working with IJM to secure legal protection for trafficked women and children – as young as four –who are held in the bondage of forced prostitution in the region’s infamous brothels, and to secure the conviction and sentencing of the sex traffickers who brutalize women and children for profit. In the eleven years since IJM’s founding, the organization has secured freedom for hundreds of women and children held as sex slaves in the cruel reality of human trafficking. IJM’s investigators document undercover evidence of trafficking and sexual exploitation, its lawyers secure justice against perpetrators, and its social workers provide aftercare services to heal survivors and teach them skills needed for economic independence.
For the past three years, my heart has focused unwaveringly on the work of IJM, and I have come to believe that my passion, gifts and experiences have been directed to this precise opportunity. I am embarking on this fellowship because it is my act of faith, my “Here am I, Lord; Send me;” because it is a privilege to use the power I have been given to help to defend the powerless; and because of Manna.
When Manna was fourteen years old she ran away from her home in South Asia to escape family abuse and severe poverty. A woman who saw her crying at a train station promised Manna safety and a job selling fabric. But when Manna awoke from the night with her would-be protector, she found herself imprisoned by a brothel keeper who beat her until she surrendered to the customers who had paid to rape her. Manna was forced to service 10 – 40 customers every night for two years. Then a brave girl who had been previously rescued by IJM, with the hope of freeing more girls, led IJM operatives back to the brothelwhere she had been held. She led IJM to Manna and three other girls enslaved in a soundproof dungeon in the brothel. IJM investigators and lawyers built a case against Manna’s captors, and both were convicted and imprisoned. From the peace of an aftercare home providing love, safety and schooling where Manna now thrives, she said, with a smile that fills the room like sunlight: “I came to prison, but I am not alone. God took me from that place to here. I am requesting to God that like IJM saved me they will save even more. What is impossible for men is possible for God.”
There are nearly two million children like Manna currently trapped in the commercial sex trade. (UNICEF). Yet, out of 1,000 raids in one district of South Asia over the past five years to free enslaved children like Manna, only 40-50 traffickers were convicted and fined. (U.N.). Human trafficking is the world’s third largest criminal enterprise, and the total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion (U.S. Department of State; U.N.). There is no doubt that the forces perpetuating this violent oppression are strong – perpetrators have much to gain. And the scope of the crisis is so enormous that it is almost paralyzing. So it is a privilege to join an organization which believes that the prospect of saving one Manna is worth any amount of sacrifice, passion and intellect it can devote; and which believes that the arc of justice ultimately bends toward the powerless, if those with power use it to help.
I look forward to sharing next year’s adventure with you and I am honored to have you join me in this beautiful, scary, hopeful season.
I know it takes a while for the heart of a mother to accept the fact that right now there are four and five year old girls being held as sex slaves. Little girls who at this very moment are trembling and praying to God to rescue them.
And this is how I think prayer works. I believe that God hears the prayers of these little girls, and in response He taps the shoulder of somebody else’s little girl, halfway across the world. He whispers in her ear: “We’ve been preparing for this moment for decades. It’s time, Sister- Let’s Roll.” And Sister says, “All right. I’m in. Let’s roll.”
I’d like to cordially invite you to Roll With A Sister.
Sister is going to become Momastery’s field reporter. She’s going to write to us from her post across the world and tell us what she sees, hears, tastes, and feels. She’s going to tell us what she can about the crisis, about the oppressors, about the heroes. She’s going to help make the world a little smaller for us. She’s also going to tell us how her heart and life are changing. In preparation for this…..
The first official book selection of the HERMIT CRAB BOOK CLUB is “Just Courage” by Gary Haugen, the founder of the International Justice Mission. It’s a book about using your life to make an impact on the world and loving your neighbors. It’s written from a Christian perspective, but I think it will speak to anyone who yearns to make a difference and to feel more alive.
Our first discussion will be in two weeks and you can buy the book on the IJM website,www.ijm.org.(While you’re there, check out the amazing ways in which IJM stands for thevoiceless and powerless.) If you can’t buy the book because you’ve already spentyour monthly discretionary funds on wooden word signs and replacement sippy cups …email your address to me and I will happily send you a copy.
I hope you’ll come along on this ride, because I think some magic is going to happen. I don’t have a clue what it might be, but I can feel it. Something special is going to happen when the Culdesac and the Brothel Meet.