Friday, November 21, 2008

Shared Hope International

If you were unable to attend the Shared Hope International fundraiser dinner on Thursday, November, 20, 2008, I am so sorry. It was a wonderful evening of meeting fellow abolitionists and hearing the heart of Linda Smith. Above all of that, though, was the beautiful story of a young woman Shared Hope has helped restore.

To see this young woman, to sit across the table from her, hear her voice and her story you cannot help but be drawn in and then realize what you don't see or hear. You do not hear anger or bitterness or self-pity and as someone who was forced to work in a brothel from the time she was 14 until she was 17, you figure she has every right to feel that way. She does not.

Instead what you hear is her give all glory to God. She offers praise to Him with almost every word she speaks. She doesn't show any anger for her time as a slave, she instead shares grace and love and hope. All of which she found and knows because of Jesus Christ. She speaks of meeting up with the man who sold her into slavery (her brother, by the way) and the look of shock and fear on his face when he realizes who she is and then the abject relief he felt when she told him she would not do anything to him. That she had forgiven him. As she speaks you can see this picture in your mind and you are left speechless. Could I be so graceful? I doubt it.

It was all I could do to hold back the tears (the flood that is, a few did escape) because every time I looked at this small, beautiful child of God, I wanted to hurt the men who hurt her. Yet she spoke of forgiving them. I wanted to yell, scream and throw things because of those who are still being hurt. Yet she has gone right back into that world, serving the women who are still there. I want to wrap every woman and child who have been sold as slaves up in my arms and protect them. Yet she is going to school for her degree in Business so she can offer them specific, concrete ways to live independently if they are able to get free from their captors.

You can show me pictures of what is considered beauty. You can show me pictures for weeks or months at a time. It will not matter. Nothing, absolutely nothing in this world is as beautiful as the light of Jesus shining through, the picture of true hope and restoration. I have never in my life witnessed anyone as beautiful as that young woman from Nepal.
Linda Smith has written a book, From Congress to the Brothel and it is available through Shared Hope International's website. You can go here to order your own copy. When you get done with that, please explore Shared Hope's website. What they do, what they offer and what you can learn from them is amazing.

If you would like to learn more, please ask. Most people who know me know I can speak for a very long time on this issue and am more than willing to do that. Please do not let the information overwhelm you. As Linda herself has said (and I am paraphrasing here) - all you have to do is show up. God will show you the rest.

Have a blessed weekend.

Proverbs 31:8-9

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