Two recent Saturday mornings I had the privilege of working alongside a group of people painting at The Well.
The Well is a drop-in center for girls who are prostituted on the streets. Pastor P calls them God's Girls. She (Pastor P) is the founder of Forgotten Children, Inc., a non-profit organization committed to helping children and women caught in the cycle of human and sexual trafficking.
I signed up to attend Pastor P's workshop on Human Trafficking scheduled for April 12th, but when the workshop was rescheduled for a later date, she asked that those who'd registered come out and help paint if we could. The Well was moving to a new space and needed to be ready by the first of May. The rescheduled workshop will be held in the new location mid-May.
I hadn't been out to volunteer in a long while. When you're a mom of a young one, that is your volunteer work, your outreach, your ministry. But I know it's time. I know for me reaching out beyond myself and my home life is necessary to live out God's calling in my life. So yes, it's time to get back out there.
I had been asking God to show me where to serve, but before I had the sense to ask Him I eagerly began to follow my own plans, but as we know that never works. Then I prayed.
Lord, where do you want me. I'm not taking any more steps until you show me.
About a week or so later, Scot heard Pastor P speak at a church. "I thought you might be interested in this," and he showed me the Forgotten Children Inc brochure. I had heard of human trafficking in other countries and heard that it was growing here in the U.S. but so close to home? Even so, was this something God wanted me to get involved in? When I watched an online video from their site, I sensed it was. I called Pastor P and signed up for the workshop. (see the video here.) These were typical girls that I could pass by and not have a clue they were victims of sexual trafficking. The image of these girls stayed with me. One morning I woke up at 3:30am and had them on my mind.
When the workshop was rescheduled I was disappointed because it was at the workshop that I thought God would confirm whether or not this was the area He wanted me to serve ( I had it all figured out again). Now I would have to wait a month to find out. I didn't plan to go and paint, not because I didn't want to, but what did painting have to do with the next step God wanted me to take? I was supposed to attend the workshop, and because my mind was so fixed on attending the workshop and how I thought things would go that I almost missed it.
But somewhere in the depths of me, a little twinge of me knew I was to go and paint. There's always that little twinge that we oftentimes suppress with our own plans, fears or something, and we miss out on what God has for us.
Already somewhat knowing what Scot would say when I told him about the cancelled workshop and the painting, he said, "That's great. Painting will give you an opportunity to get to know others who have a heart for this cause. And like Matthew Barnett says if there's a need, fill it."
As soon as Scot said that it made sense that I should go and paint. We'd both just read The Cause Within You by Matthew Barnett (founder of the Dream Center in Los Angeles), a book that spoke to me about surrendering my ideas and making sure I'm following God's plan in however He's calling me to serve Him and the importance of connecting with others in that particular cause.
Walking into The Well the first time, I didn't know anyone else. But I got a chance to meet and talk to several people and hear how God gave them a heart for God's Girls.
I met an interior designer. She told me about her recent trip to India, reaching out to human trafficking victims. Upon her return she wanted to know how she could continue what God put in her heart. She learned of Forgotten Children, Inc. and contacted Pastor P. Amazingly enough, Pastor P had been praying for an interior designer to help with the new space. She brought her parents to help.
There was a young college student, I believe in her second year, who was majoring in psychiatric nursing. Before college, she had volunteered in Northern California, where she's from, reaching out to human trafficking victims. She brought her roommate to help paint.
There was a man fixing The Well's computer, who joined in with the painting later. It turns out we attend the same church.
Of course I met Pastor P. She's a woman who has rejected retirement and traveling around the world in a mobile home to take on this full-time cause for Christ. Her heart for these girls is amazing, from God and infectious.
There were others that I met but didn't get to talk to much, but we were all there with the same heart for the same cause.
But this wasn't about us. Nor was it about painting. This was about God's Girls. The girls and young ladies who walk those streets, who must make a few dollars to keep from being beaten if they bring back nothing. Or the possibility of being beaten or killed anyway, by the strange men who purchase them night after night.
They are caught up in this life not because they want it but because they are victims of someone else who is making them do it. Perhaps it all started because they felt unloved, so a man comes along and gives them attention, makes them think he cares and before you know it he is forcing them to sell their bodies to strangers every night. Or who knows, maybe it is their own mother who pushed them into this life, because it is all she knew.
I like that Pastor P calls them God's Girls. She sees what no one else can. She sees what God wants them to be. His Girls. His precious daughters. And God wants them to know they are loved. That He has a plan for them. Like the woman at the well in the Bible, perhaps they will meet Christ at The Well.
There is Rachel's House of Healing, also started by Forgotten Children Inc.. It is a long-term treatment and residential program that will provide counseling and other needs for the girls as they begin their new life.
I'm going to attend the upcoming workshop on human trafficking, but I don't have to wait until then to know if God is directing me to this cause. I know that I have to be involved in this...how can I not be?