I love and hate that God asks us to do things that are way outside of our comfort zone. My pastor has mentioned often that he is a huge introvert and really doesn’t like getting up in front of people. But God called him to be a pastor and he’s an amazing one! For me, I can’t stand planning things. Even planning a get together with friends drives me nuts! I would much rather someone else make all the decisions and let me know where I need to be when and what I’m supposed to do. And yet, inevitably, I will feel God say to me, “Sarah, I think you could plan such and such. You know, I really want you to plan such and such. It would be great for you if you would plan such and such.” And I start down the fairly stressful path of planning an event.
I don’t do this often. It’s really God who has to convince me that it’s something I need to do. But He did so back in November of last year. If you can’t tell, something that weighs heavy on my heart is the atrocity of human trafficking. I’ve been in exposure and awareness mode for the last few years – learning as much as I can, attending various events, getting connected with others who are concerned about it as well. But, as I helped out with a Fall shopping day for Stop Traffick Fashion, I really began to feel like it was something our church needed as well.
And I cringed. I would have preferred to tell the ladies in my church about it and then they plan it. I would even have consented to talking about it in front of the church (another thing I’m not a huge fan of doing), but with the words coming out of my mouth, the task was placed in my hands. Our WMU leader was really excited about the idea, because she had been reading a couple of articles recently about human trafficking in the church women’s literature. God was in this. I’m not saying that I did it all – by no means – Brenda Heckman and Julie Johnson (Christmas tablecloths and all *wink) and Amy Jones and Jo Collas…they are some amazing ladies. I’m so grateful to have them as role models to learn from, especially in regards to unity of kindred women and…the dreaded – hospitality.
I am not practiced in hospitality at all. I can’t remember what all is needed to make people feel comfortable. For me, I go to an event to learn something and to network…and I assume everyone else is there for the same reason. Shocking, but that’s not really the case. Thankfully, the ladies mentioned above organized the food and decorating and there wasn’t much for me to do on that part besides being a grunt and moving tables and chairs.
My primary task was organizing speakers and getting the word out to the community. I may not have done the last part as well – and really the first part, I’m thinking went exactly as it should have gone, but nothing like I planned. I was anticipating having a speaker share at each hour something in regards to human trafficking. Emily would share about Stop Traffick Fashion and Hagar International. I would talk about the Christian responsibility and upcoming events in the community. And the one I was most excited about, a Hamilton Police Officer would come and share about human trafficking in our community, state and nation.
It was awkward trying to figure out how we were going to stop everything and have everyone listen to a speaker for all of 5-10 mins and then go on their way with eating and shopping. The only really solid group of “fresh” people was right between 10:30 and 11:15. So, I asked for Officer Collins to share with everyone what she had been researching. And it was great!
I wasn’t surprised that, as a local police officer, there wouldn’t be much experience with human trafficking. I would be surprised if even the local sheriff’s department had any experience with human trafficking. Our wonderful local sheriff isn’t that keen on the rights of illegals – no matter what condition they are in. So, I wasn’t surprised when she shared that she got wide eyes and remarks of disbelief or discredit from fellow officers when commenting that human trafficking may be an issue in Butler County, OH. She talked about not finding much information within the department to go off of, so she began to broaden her scope to the state of Ohio and then to the US. She was surprised to find that Toledo is #4 in Top Cities of Human Trafficking. Ohio is #7 in the US for human trafficking. It’s an issue in every city (which would include Fairfield and Hamilton…”every” being an all-inclusive term).
I think that about 50 people came to the event. Most of them bought something from STF. But what I’m most excited is how God brought me to a job where I would meet this police officer, who I could then coordinate with and share a concern and a need in our community with. And that she would then become interested in the issue and maybe work on spreading it to the rest of the department.
I don’t know what this means for Butler County. I don’t know if we’re on the edge of something starting or if it will take a few more years for anything to get going. I don’t know what my part will be or if I will even have a part in it. But I know that I am available to God – even if it involves more planning – that I will keep going until He stops me.
- Residents urged to fight human trafficking (cbc.ca)
- Law School Combats Human Trafficking in Haiti (conversationswiththelivingofficial.wordpress.com)
- Coffee Shops Fighting Human Trafficking (bizcovering.com)
- Boyd Law Students Study Human Rights in India (shaktivahini.wordpress.com)
- Rob Holmes on Human Trafficking, Boot Camp Launches (knockoffreport.com)