"It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free."
Over the past few years, this has become one of my very favorite verses in scripture. Until recently, it served just as a sweet reminder that Jesus has already completed the work for my freedom. I don't have to wonder if I can be freed from struggles, sickness, or fears. It's all been dealt with (past tense), and Jesus has already claimed victory for me in every area of my life. All I have to do is choose to walk in freedom. And for me, that reassurance was where this verse ended...until last summer.
Most of you probably know that my parents and 4 of my siblings spent three months at a missions school in Mozambique this summer. While they were there the Lord did an amazing work in each and every one of their hearts! My parents felt a call to serve full time overseas (they are now living in Asia and the Lord is establishing a great ministry with them), Matt fell in love with the people of Mozambique and came home with a new understanding of the Lord's heart, the restoration of Mason's hearing (something we believe will happen one day) became an even bigger prayer priority for our family, Molly accepted Jesus as her Savior and was baptized in the Indian Ocean (so cool!), and Madelyn was prophesied over by several people telling her that she would be play a huge part in ministering to women and children who had become sex trafficking victims....when my mom told me what had been spoken over Madelyn, it was the first time I felt the Lord tug at my heart about this issue.
A couple months after my parents had left for Africa, my mom and I were having our usual weekly Skype date and the Lord began to tug at my heart again, this time a little more strongly! After we had small talk about the weather and the kiddos, Mom asked me to pray about something specific. It was a prayer request that I believe that Lord has used to shape my future for maybe the rest of my life. She told me that one of the teams from their mission school had gone into a village a few miles from their base to preach the gospel, bring food, etc. As soon as they arrived they knew something was horribly wrong. As they started talking to the people there, they discovered that almost all of the children from that village had been sold to a neighboring village for $6 each. Before you pass judgement on the parents who agreed to take such a small price for their sons and daughters, know that they were probably led to believe that their children would be offered a better life. Most of them probably couldn't even afford to feed them, so they figured they would have a better chance somewhere else....sadly, that was not the case. After the team did some more researching, they found out that these children were being used as slaves in a ruby mine that this other village had recently found. As if that wasn't horrific enough, they eventually found out that on top of all of that, the girls were being used as prostitutes for the owners of the mine. Some of these children were barely old enough to be in school and their childhood was being stolen from them! I have never felt such a strong sense of urgency in my heart as I did when my mom started explaining exactly what was going on over there. She told me everything the team was doing to try to get these children back in a safe place, but it was going to be a really long road. I spent the next couple of days just sobbing, because for the first time in my life I wasn't able to numb myself to the true depravity in our world.
That's where the first part of this blog name, "Rubies" came from. It's to honor the children who are still there in Mozambique working 12 hour days in horrible conditions while we sit in our air conditioned homes and complain about spotty phone reception and high gas prices. The second part "Red Lights" is in honor of the women and children specifically in the sex trafficking industry. Red lights used to be used to signify that a brothel was in the area. While most people believe that "red light districts" and brothels are not nearly as common as they used to be, you might be surprised to find out that there are 18,000 women and children being enslaved in this lifestyle just in the US. They are the women that most people think have chosen to sell their bodies to make money they couldn't make anywhere else. The sad reality is that most of these women (and I use the term loosely, because the average age to be introduced into the sex trade is 13 years old) never see a penny of what they make. Their pimps are able to enslave them in this environment by using emotional and/or physical threats and abuse. "Red light" is also in reference to my desire to help put a STOP to human trafficking through awareness and small contributions from normal people like you and me, which is what this blog is all about!
As I mentioned before, Galatians 5:1 took on a whole new meaning for me after my mom told me about those children in Mozambique. As I started receiving more revelation about the full message behind that verse, I realized that I had always read it as if it said:
"It is for MY freedom, that Christ has set me free."
But that's not what it says at all. I always thought of this verse as a free pass, something that pretty much excluded me from any responsibility, because the work was already finished. The beauty of grace is that I didn't have to do a thing to "earn" it. But the reality is that this verse carries a HUGE responsibility. Yes, Christ set me free for no other reason than that he loves me. I didn't have to do anything to gain that freedom other than accept it. But Christ not only set me free so that I would be free; He set me free so that I might lead others to freedom. I have a responsibility to bring justice to those who are oppressed!
So that's what this blog is about. It is month-long journey that I'm asking you to be a part of. Hopefully each day I will present to you a new challenge, opportunity to give, or prayer request that will allow us to come together to play a role in ensuring that human trafficking does not keep happening! In the coming days, I'll share some more statistics and stories to give you a better understanding of exactly how big of a problem this is, not only in foreign countries, but also right here on American soil, quite possibly in your neighborhood!
I promise I won't ask you to make a career change, move overseas, or spend hours a day campaigning. This is all about making small changes to make a big difference. My hope is that if you can pick just a few of these things and do them for a month, you'll continue to play a role even after this 30-day challenge is complete. It won't be a comfortable journey. There are a lot of harsh truths about human trafficking. But I also hope that in the midst of the sadness that the Lord brings encouragement through this, because I believe with all my heart that he is raising up a generation that won't stand for human trafficking any longer! Love you all! See you tomorrow!