Other than the adoption, there are quite a few other things on my mind lately that are requiring some thought and preparation. One of the biggest is leading a mission team to Nepal in March…
Sometimes I can’t even get over the blessing and the privilege I have to travel the world for missions through my job, and the opportunities they bring for building relationships with people, serving others, and developing God’s heart and perspective of His world. Yesterday morning I made my coffee and went to work in my cube, and in a couple months I’ll be experiencing His creativity in another culture, being a [small] part of what He is doing for the sake of His kingdom globally. Each one individually is significant. Getting to experience both is a gift.
I’ve had this feeling, since I was first asked to lead this team, that God was very purposeful in the timing of this mission. (Our “waiting period” actually officially begins the very week after I get back!) Not only that, but that He is going to teach me something big through it in regards to our adoption. That the two aren’t merely coincidental (or competing) but intrinsically linked. How can going halfway around the world to visit the oppressed not bring about a new awareness of the plight of injustice right here in our own little corner of the world — and what He is doing right here in our own lives?
This time I’ve been blessed with an incredible,
manageable medium-size team of seven, along with six “senders” trained from our sending ministry. We are currently going through a Bible study together, among other preparations, on God’s heart for justice.
Justice. That often-misunderstood, misrepresented word. “Social justice” is such a hot-topic phrase, both scrutinized and glorified, done poorly and fought honorably — both defended and rejected.
I have so much to learn. I read “When Helping Hurts,” and “Orphan Justice,” and “Toxic Charity,” and I know that the both the motivation and the method matter. That God’s perspective — not ours — matters. With a bent toward compassion and mercy, I also have to know that to truly care for those you serve, good intentions just aren’t always enough.
And sometimes, to be honest, I have a hard time with justice. Because it takes a person long enough to understand that the world isn’t fair, to come to a point of reconciliation with that, to know that God cares far more about our character than our contentment… our holiness than our happiness. And yet, simultaneously, this heart for justice?
Jesus in his very first public speech, the introduction of His mission in the world, said:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19, NLT)
15,000 women and children are trafficked from Nepal into India every year. This festering, spreading, toxic injustice of trafficking is happening not just abroad — as I’m sure you must know — but right here in our own communities, in a BIG way. There are so many statistics that are easy to find, that I’m sure you’ve seen. Here’s just a quick few, to remind us:
- Human trafficking consists of both labor trafficking and sex trafficking: modern-day slavery.
- There are 27 million+ people in slavery in the world today — more than at any other time in history.
- The global commercial sex trade is a $32 billion/year criminal industry, a market-based economy that exists on the principles of supply and demand.
- A child is trafficked every 30 seconds; in the U.S. alone, there are hundreds of thousands of child victims.
- Fifty percent of trafficking victims are minors (and 70% of these victims are children in foster care).
I’ll have the privilege of speaking to the high-school girls at our church less than a week after our team’s return from Nepal. (I’m having a hard time deciding which one is the more incredible opportunity.) During this overnight, all-girls event focused on human trafficking, including worship, and small-group breakout sessions, and tangible ways to take action, and be creative, and be invested in by leaders, these girls will hopefully find a safe place to process and communicate and wrestle with this issue. As the speaker for the night (working on developing my content before we leave), I’m praying hard for insight and discernment on how to fit what I want to say to them into a 30-minute message…
To be honest, one thing that is weighing my heart most heavily is how to speak about this in an age-appropriate way. (So you can pray for that!) There will be 8th-graders to 12th-graders… and I know I would speak to an 18-year-old about sex trafficking a whole lot differently than I would to a 13-year-old. I want them to know the truth, know the facts, be educated and be inspired to action. I want someone to be talking to them about this. These youth are both the next generation of freedom fighters AND the ones who are susceptible. But I also don’t want them living in fear of being snatched up! I’ve got tons of resources, tons of research, and an outline that will probably be completely changed from start to finish on the plane ride home. So my prayer right now sounds a lot like, “God… just get me out of your way.”
It’s hard to wrap your head around all the work that’s being done — and has yet to be done. In Nepal, we’ll be working with an organization that is fighting human trafficking from all sides: Prayer (a huge initiative called One Girl), prevention (children’s homes; whereas in Kenya you see street children everywhere, in Nepal there are none — because, by the time they end up on the streets, they are already snatched up to be trafficked), interception (border-monitoring stations that stop trafficking as it is taking place), rescue (actually going into brothels), and post-rescue restoration (a center for empowerment). Again, hard to wrap your head around all that’s being done — and is yet to be done…
Oppression, injustice, slavery. Redemption, justice, freedom.
Horrors in the world; hope in Christ.
Hands and feet.
And in His miraculous physical healings Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well” — as though the healing he just performed hadn’t already happened? — yet because “wholeness” is what He means. Saved by grace through faith. And “healed” takes on much more meaning than just the physical…
And yet it’s both.
I hear the reminder in our team meeting on Sunday: These women in Nepal who have been victim to trafficking, who have suffered this horrible plight of being forced into slavery, now through the rescue of these border workers and intercepters have had a chance, many for the very first time, to hear the Gospel.
And that’s when it rises: this correlation to our adoption. Not a new thought, but a connection to the mission. What God might be wanting to show me firsthand in the world before ushering it into our home. Our baby might not be a victim of oppression in this exact same way — but there will be a tremendous loss involved, even through the incredibly courageous choice of his or her birthmother. I would never suspect or assume that our child wouldn’t or couldn’t come to know Christ in any other way, but just perhaps — this loss, that pain, and the resulting incorporation into our family is what ultimately leads to living a life knowing Him. Or for the birth family. Or us, more deeply. God’s sovereign and missional way of bringing others to Himself.
This grace that levels the playing field, that levels me every time I re-learn it. I have no more or no less. I deserve no more or no less. Grace abounding and abundant. We are not rescuers. In my very own brokenness, there is only response.
“Adoption is wonderful and beautiful and the greatest blessing I have ever experienced. Adoption is also difficult and painful. Adoption is a beautiful picture of redemption. It is the Gospel in my living room. And sometimes, it’s just hard… Adoption is the redemptive response to the tragedy that happens in this broken world.” (Katie Davis)
If separation from God is the ultimate driver of evil, at its core, then maybe it’s true that the adoration of God — bringing glory to His name and worship of Him from every corner of the earth — is truly its justice…