Sunday, May 17, 2015

With actions and in truth.

"If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." - 1 John 3:17-18

   I'm a little (or a lot) behind on life here, but this summer mom and I are returning to SE Asia to work with sex-trafficking victims. My mama's my best friend and for years we've dreamed of going on a trip together. After much thought and prayer this trip landed us 8,000 miles away for three weeks between me taking boards and moving/starting a new job. A lot of people don't quite understand why we've decided to spend our time in a poverty stricken country instead of sitting on a beach relaxing for a week, but the above verses were said in church this morning and I think they sum it up pretty well for me.
   I've seen my brothers and sisters in need and how can I not love them? I've seen brokenness, poverty, and injustice and my hearts been completely shattered. I've also seen hope, restoration, and justice though and the Lord's put a burning passion in my heart to see these things overcome the brokenness, poverty, and injustice. And the way the Lord does this is extremely complicated, but also incredibly simple. He calls broken, sinful people like mama and myself to love with actions and in truth. He equips us to love well, through the love we've been given. So that's why we're flying over 26 hours for three weeks only to be sleep deprived and culture-shocked and home-sick, but also to pour out Christ's love, to see the Kingdom grow, to be challenged, and to witness the hope overcome injustice. 

"We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dressember day 31.

December 31, 2014. 
This not only means that tomorrow begins a new year, but it also means that tomorrow I can wake up and put on jeans or sweatpants instead of deciding which dress I want to wear for the umpteenth time. It's a really strange feeling actually, and part of me is sad. Dressember has been such a good experience in so many ways for me. I've continually been reminded of the redemption we find in Christ. I've found joy in seeing others participating and finding new passions. I've been thankful each and every day when I do put on a dress and am reminded of the life-giving freedom I have found in my Savior. The other day a friend of mine was watching a documentary on sex-trafficking and asked, "Kelsey, how am I suppose to relate to these women?" And I couldn't really give an answer because we can't- I've lived a pretty freaking privileged life. I complain about putting on a dress while women around the world are sitting on a stained bed in tattered rags. I complain when my legs are cold through my tights while women are forced to stay outside at truck-stops waiting for customers to strip them of their dignity. I complain about wearing a dress for 31 days in a row..but you know what? Most days I felt truly beautiful, loved,and supported while millions of women have never felt beautiful but instead feel used and unworthy of love. This oppression is normal for many women and that's what struck me most this December. One day I picked out my dress and thought about how putting a dress on each morning was becoming normal, and suddenly I was HORRIFIED. For so many women, enslaved in trafficking or not, oppression is normal. Feeling unloved and unworthy is normal. Abuse is expected. Being raped up to 40 times a day is normal. Many women in trafficking don't know another reality and therefore don't even self-identify as victims. This makes me hurt. It literally makes me sick. Each women is a beloved daughter of the King, relentlessly pursued by their maker, and should be treated as such. This is why I fight. I fight so love, joy, and beauty will be normal for women around the world instead of abuse, oppression, and hopelessness. 

Dressember is about embracing femininity, standing up for the oppressed and enslaved, and fighting for women everywhere to feel beautiful and be free. I've been blessed to take a stand with thousands of others around the world but it doesn't end today. Keep praying. Keep learning. Keep having those tough conversations, and keep fighting for the voiceless.  

Isaiah 58:10-11
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
 with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and spend yourself in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
  then your light will rise in the darkness,
 and your night will become like the noonday. 
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land 
and will strengthen your frame." 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

All oppression shall cease.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, 
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth. 
Long lay the world in sin and error pining, 
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth. 
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. 

Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices! 

O night divine, O night when Christ was born; 
O night divine, O night, O night Divine. 

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace. 
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; 
And in His name all oppression shall cease. 
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, 
Let all within us praise His holy name. 

Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices! 
O night divine, O night when Christ was born; 
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

I have heard this song hundreds of times before. I've grown up singing it each December, and yet it took on a whole new meaning to me this year. It's been my favorite Christmas song for years, and once again I was reminded why. Those lyrics in red? Yeah. They're awesome. Read them again. He taught us to love. Jesus Christ is love and peace even in the midst of our chaotic and broken world. And this unfathomable love will one day break all chains. In HIS name, all oppression shall cease and this folks, is why I'm participating in Dressember. I'm participating because the slave is my brother or sister and I wish to see a world in which all oppression ceases in the name of our risen Savior.

The problem is big and the injustice is overwhelming, but the hope is immense too. The work of ending trafficking is often tiresome and tedious, but one moment can give hope for a lifetime. Every time that injustice seems to swallow me whole, I remember those moments. I remember sitting on the floor next to a beloved thirty-something year old who had endured trafficking for SEVEN YEARS and I see her paint "God is love" in watercolor. I hear her say those same words in her broken English. After seven years of injustice, Jesus Christ broke the chains in her life and his love prevailed. I remember walking into the center, seeing a shy woman with a large scar of her chest huddled in the corner and sitting down next to her. She grabbed my hand and never let go. Those are moments I will never forget and those are moments that give me hope. I see love, I see chains breaking, and I see oppression ending. Those are moments I see Jesus.

Merry Christmas! I hope you're able to rejoice in Emmanuel- God with us.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Day 22- Sarah W.

Day 22. This may be our last profile for Dressember, but I am so incredibly thankful for all the people who have participated on Northwestern's campus. I've definitely seen the Lord work through Dressember and I've seen a generation rise up to fight injustice. About 30 people at Northwestern committed to wearing a dress or tie for all 31 days of December, more people participated weekly, and our team has raised $2,623 so far. SO BLESSED. Today you get to meet Sarah Wedel. Sarah's also worked in Bangalore with trafficking survivors and is near and dear to my heart. 

“I will never forget the first time I heard about human trafficking. Shockingly, it was just last year. How could I have gone through my first 19 years of life never hearing about the 30 million slaves in the world today? People can’t fight against what they don’t know is happening. When I found out the truth about human trafficking, it changed me. It moved me to action. This past summer, I had the opportunity to live in Bangalore, India for six weeks to work at a safe house for rescued trafficked women. It was such an incredible blessing to get to know these beautiful women and to see them beginning the process of healing. That’s why I am participating in Dressember. Because awareness comes before action. By me wearing a dress this month, maybe just one more person will join the fight against human trafficking. And one by one, we can change the world. I wear a dress for the women I met in Bangalore. I wear a dress to bring rescue, hope and healing to one more of the 30 million.”

Over half the slaves in the world today reside in India, which is about 14 million

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 20- Taylor

Day 20. TWENTY. Where has December gone? Today you meet Taylor, who is near and dear to my heart and has a passion unlike any other.

"My interest in the welfare of women began in a class I took sophomore year called "Violence against Women."  We read the book "Half the Sky" by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (once again- they're awesome!) and learned about so many tragic things that women are experiencing around the world:  Prostitution. Maternal mortality. Rape. Domestic Violence. Unequal pay. Female genital mutilation. At one point the authors quoted one magazine who wrote, "Maternal deaths in developing countries are often the ultimate tragic outcome of the cumulative denial of women's human rights. Women are not dying because of untreatable diseases. They are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving." Women are dying because people don't think their lives are worth saving. Since my sophomore year I've learned so much more about modern-day slavery, and the truth is that yes, violence against women is such a huge issue and one I hope to passionately pursue forever, but it's not just women that are experiencing the many ways in which slavery is occurring. This is why I'm participating in Dressember. There's a girl in Africa who isn't getting justice even though she was gang-raped. There's a woman in your county who is living in the cycle of domestic violence and she's too scared to come forward because her partner has threatened to take her kids away if she doesAnd there's little girls and boys all over the world who are being kidnapped and sold into slavery. 30 million people in this world don't have the ability to choose their food or whether they're educated or who they marry. It's enraging and discouraging, but I hold onto God's promises. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, including slavery. How blessed are we that we can walk alongside God in this fight for freedom? It's not their fight, it's our fight."