Happy New Year! I am so very excited for 2014 and all it has in store for us. 2014 is the year of “deeper”. May we all go deeper and deeper into our understanding of God’s heart for us, and may we go deeper into the places and projects and relationships that we cultivated in 2013 and before. May we go deep and find all the treasure buried deep deep down in the dark places.
I am in New York right now on furlough. I will be in America for about two more months. I flew in from Kenya two weeks ago after a crazy month of traveling, weddings, and spending time with my daughters in Kenya during the holidays. We had such a blast. Thank you to everyone who gave to make that possible for us. The weddings were also absolutely beautiful and I enjoyed seeing many old dear friends I hadn’t seen in a while.
I got back right in time for New Years Day and my time here so far has been nothing short of miraculous. I feel like I am smack dab in the center of His will right now and I am having such a great time. Many things I have been praying for over the past year are coming to pass in this season here in New York. I’m being really nourished artistically, socially, and spiritually. It’s so good for me. Also, this is New York, so every night there is something to do and somewhere to go where I meet amazing people and build new relationships. I am enjoying this season here very much.
One of the great things about furlough is coming to America and catching up on all the TV shows everyone has been flooding your facebook newsfeed about. One of those shows is the popular Netflix series called Orange is the New Black. It’s an amazing show. Great writing. Great acting. Amazing characters. I love it. Anyway, have you ever been watching a show or having a conversation or eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation and a phrase someone says jumps out at you and hits you right in the heart? Well, that happened to me as I was watching an episode of Orange is the New Black. There is a scene where one of the characters is teaching another how to mop the floor of the bathroom in the prison correctly and she says to her, “You gotta start from the inside or else you’ll step on the clean”. WHOP! That line jumped from the computer screen, looked me directly in the eye, and then gutted me right in the heart. It’ exactly what I’ve been talking to God about for 2014. She was explaining to her friend that when you mop a room you start from the inside of it and work your way out, that way when you finish you wont leave dirty footprints on the parts you’ve already cleaned. In all my 27 years of life where I’ve mopped floors hundreds of times I’ve never mopped floors that way. I ever knew the trick. I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the depth of truth in it in regards to my ministry either. This is integral for me in what 2014 will look like for me in Africa. Friends, we are changing our approach to what “rescue” looks like. We are going to “start from the inside so we don’t step on the clean”. If I have learned anything over the past year and half in working with rescued child prostitutes and a trafficking survivor it’s that “rescue” doesn’t work from the outside in. If you try to clean up their dirty situation from the outside in, when it looks all clean and you start walking out to put your cleaning supplies away, you will step on the clean and leave big muddy footprints that you have to go back and clean all over again… and again, and again, and again. You can’t clean up the issue of sexual slavery with external things alone. Food to eat, school to attend, a big pretty house to live in, these external things can cover up the problem and make the child feel happy in the moment, but the pain and trauma and suffering that comes from sexual abuse of any kind has to be dealt with from the inside, they are heart issues and mind issues and belief issues and identity issues that must be dealt with intentionally. And the only way to deal with them is to hold Jesus’ hand and step with Him all the way inside of the child’ heart and start cleaning from the inside out. That’s what we are doing this year. We are healing the wounds from sexual slavery and releasing sexual freedom into Kenya and Ethiopia starting from the inside of these girls’ hearts.
I was reading a book on the subway on my way into Manhattan this morning and choking back tears as I realized how many people in the world have been affected by sexual abuse of all kinds in this world. The effects are crippling. Whether you are a nine year old chained to a bed in Kenya and gang raped all night or a 13 year old girl in America whose stepdad snuck into her bedroom and put his hand down her pants. The pain that comes from being sexually violated as a child has no spectrum. There is no less or worse. That violation assaults the very core of who we are and splits it wide open and leaves it that way: exposed, bleeding, ashamed. And that core, the essence of who we believe that we are, our identity, needs to be nurtured and cared for and put back together again tenderly and with divine love. One of the lines from the book I was reading is
“Pain reveals to us the inadequacy of what we are beholding and unlocks our ache for a greater beauty to fulfill our need… the One to whom it can lead us.”
When we experience the pain of being sexually abused as children we begin to experience an inescapable ache that nothing else can free us from, but the Beautiful One Himself. And I believe He wants to use us, my friends, as the ones who respond to the aching, the wailing, of a generation of young girls and boys all over the world who have been raped, enslaved, molested, violated and are crying out for freedom from the pain. How will we answer that cry and heal their broken hearts from the inside out?
I have an idea. What if we tried using the arts?? What if the arts could heal broken hearts?? In response to these childrens’ cry we are journeying into the land of bringing art therapy into the brothels this year.