Two weeks ago, I started reading the book of Nehemiah. I started reading there because Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem's walls in just 52 days. I'm working on a writing project and things are moving slowly...I had been praying for the project to be expedited...maybe I could learn something from Nehemiah.
It didn't take long for God to speak to my heart as I read Chapter One. But it had nothing to do with my writing project.
Nehemiah lived about 800 miles from Jerusalem and worked for a king. One day Nehemiah got news that Jerusalem's walls had been destroyed and the people were in crisis. Nehemiah was deeply troubled hearing the news. In verse 4, he said, "...I sat down and wept...for days I mourned, fasted and prayed to the God of heaven."
As I read this and felt Nehemiah's heart, sex trafficking victims came up in my spirit, and I remembered the compassion and concern I had for them when I first learned about sex trafficking and the sincere desire I had to want to do something to help. (You can read about that here: Painting for God's Girls and Update: Human Trafficking Workshop)
Like Nehemiah, I prayed. I prayed that God would show me how he wanted me to help, and I prayed for sex trafficking victims and survivors although I'd never met even one. I stepped out as I believed God was calling me to.
I read books to educate myself and attended workshops. With other volunteers, I helped paint new offices at a drop in center. (A drop in center is a place that reaches out to girls on the streets.) I signed up to volunteer at the drop-in center once a week to reach out to the girls...pray with, talk to, just be there...but there were no longer any girls to reach out to. They had recently been "moved" to another location due to police presence. At another non profit agency, I signed up to do a phone hotline training to reach out to sex trafficking victims, but it turned out they needed people eight hours during the day on the weekend and I was only available late evenings and nights. Everything I stepped out to do did not pan out.
I knew God put sex trafficking victims on my heart but as time went on, and I haven't been involved in any specific outreach, it has remained in my heart but not in the forefront of my mind. Actually everytime I see something about sex trafficking now it is a reminder that I'm doing nothing about it.
As I sat and pondered Nehemiah's words, I heard God speak in that still silent voice, "don't forget them...keep praying for them."
When I was actively involved with the drop-in center and attending workshops I prayed often for the girls but at some point my prayers for them slowly dwindled to a complete stop. (I didn't even realize it until I was reading Nehemiah that day.)
I think we are more apt to pray for someone or something when it is a situation close to us...when you know them personally or they are a relative of a friend or if you serve in a particular ministry or outreach...when it seems more tangible in some way. Also when something is as massive as sex trafficking you may not realize your prayers make a difference.
God used Nehemiah to remind me not to forget the girls and the importance of praying for them whether I'm involved in a local outreach or not. Nehemiah lived 800 miles from Jerusalem and he continued to pray for the city and its people...he didn't forget them nor allow the situation to be removed from the forefront of his mind or heart. Verse 6 (Chapter 1) says he prayed night and day for the people. (Nehemiah's prayer(s) is powerful. You can read it here: Nehemiah 1:4-11.)
If sex trafficking has been on your heart and you don't know how to help...begin by praying for the girls trapped in that life. Prayer is powerful and it is a privilege that we, imperfect women in Christ, can intercede in prayer to our Creator, for other imperfect girls and women who don't yet know Christ.
I thought being involved in something where I am serving these women face-to-face was where God wanted me, and who knows maybe it is down the road, but right now I'm to be praying for them. I added them to my prayer door (some people have a prayer closet, I have a door where I tape my prayer lists...got the idea from the movie War Room).
I started out reading Nehemiah for one reason and God had another reason...isn't He amazing!?