What do you do when the world breaks your heart? (Or, You won't believe Lisa's story!)
Recent world news is making me sad and sadder. Suffering of the people and places I’ve been recently connected with—in the Middle East especially—is escalating by the day. I feel helpless and weary. I won’t stop working on their behalf, planning trips to visit Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers, and writing grant proposals for Jordanian and Lebanese organizations serving Syrian and Iraqi refugees. But the suffering is all so big and horrific and ongoing. I won’t stop caring; I won’t stop working; but at the moment, I feel overwhelmed.
Do you ever feel that way?
I started reflecting on what I should do with the anxiety I feel for the world. Is there a way to channel this energy into something good?
Maybe that’s why I latched onto Lisa’s story: the story of one girl with an immediate need that could actually be met in just a few days. Lisa was sexually trafficked at age two—by her own father. She was forced into prostitution and suffered unimaginable abuses for twenty years. Miraculously, she survived and at 22 was rescued by police. For safety, Lisa fled to the US, used her new freedom to earn her GED and found scholarship programs that allowed her to attend college on a student visa. For three years she maintain a phenomenal GPA of 3.96 with a major in psychology, and a growing dream of one day helping survivors of human trafficking find hope and healing.
We always hear about the big picture of human trafficking and what needs to be done on national and international levels to fight it. And that's important. But sometimes an opportunity comes along to address it in a nitty-gritty, grassroots, very personal way. That brings me back to Lisa—and one more hurdle she has to face. She recently discovered that unless she raises the entire funds for her senior year BY JULY 1, she’ll lose her student visa and be sent back home. Once before this happened and she was abducted and returned to prostitution. Those who know her fear that if she’s sent home again she’ll die at the hands of those who trafficked her.
Some young woman from my church are part of an organization called Gridlock Ministries that helps girls like Lisa create a meaningful life after being rescued. Gridlock is working hard to raise Lisa’s scholarship money. On their website you can read more about Lisa and also make a tax-deductible donation to Lisa’s scholarship fund. In order for Lisa’s student visa paperwork to be processed in time, all the funds need to be raised by July 1.
I’ve just donated $1000 to Lisa’s fund. What if everyone who reads this blog donates something? $10? $20? $50? I know how easy it is to read blogs like this and think, that’s great, I’m sure lots of people will donate. Frankly, I’ve discovered that not many people actually do donate—they “like” and “favorite” and maybe even “retweet.” But we could actually give Lisa the future she’s worked so hard for if we hit “donate.”
As soon as I post this blog, I’m going back to my Syrian refugee grant proposals and to reading a great book on the long, slow process of peacemaking. I’m committed to the long-haul engagement with our broken world.
But every now and then I need to grab hold of something that’s readily doable, fixable, changeable! Like Lisa’s college tuition!
Come on. Join me. Hit donate! Then, for Lisa’s sake, forward this blog to your friends, or retweet about it. Let’s safeguard Lisa’s future. Let’s help her become the world-changer she wants to be!
*Lisa’s name has been changed in order to protect her. The work of Gridlock Ministries is endorsed and recommended by:Chicagoland Brenda Myers-Powell, Cook County Sheriff's Dept. Prostitution Intervention Team Terri Kraus, West Chicagoland Anti-Trafficking Coalition Bob Brabenec, Wheaton College International Justice Mission Chapter Frank Massolini, Anne's House Tyrone Staggers, Salvation Army Anne Rand, Willow Creek Compassion and Justice Ministry Anny Donewald, Eve's AngelsSan Diego San Diego Police Dept. Anti-Trafficking Division Carina Hinton, San Diego Regional Human Trafficking Advisory Council Crystal Anthony, North County Lifeline (first-responder team) Susan Johnson, Churches Against Trafficking Susan Munsey, Generate Hope Jamie Gates, Point Loma Nazarene University Center for Reconciliation and Justice Bill Wells, Mayor, El Cajon, CA