Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hagar International- Bringing healing and restoring hope

“Evil can be undone, but it cannot 'develop' into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound, bit by bit, 'with backward mutters of dissevering power' - or else not.” ― C.S. Lewis

For as long as possible, I avoided reading the trafficking stories. I read statistic after statistic, learning more than I ever wanted to know about this trade. The simple facts were horrible enough. The avoidance did not come out of apathy or lack of compassion. It came because I knew what was coming.  You see, several years ago I started praying this prayer, "Break my heart with what breaks Yours." He answered that one. Clearly. It is His desire that we see others the way He does, so we can love them the way He loves.

So, I read the stories. And, I can't stop thinking about them. Or talking about them. (I have been really fun to be around lately. :)

This weekend I attended the Created For Care retreat in the Atlanta area. Stories were a common theme in every break out session and large group. Adoption stories- the happy ones and the hard ones. Orphan care stories- the successes and the mistakes. Stories of vibrant life and of death. Stories of hopelessness, stories of hope waiting to be fulfilled and stories of bright, vivid hope in the least likely of places.

As I sat listening to the stories, this unfinished blog post kept coming to my mind. God reminded me again that these stories are important. They need to be told. They need to be known. My heart needs to break, because His does. These precious souls, so valuable and loved by their Creator, need to find their voices and their voices need to be heard. They need to know their story can change.

This week's organization, Hagar International, cares deeply about hearing the stories of brokenness and giving the trafficking survivors the opportunity to have a new, hope-filled story through Jesus.

What is Hagar International?

Hagar International
, named for Sarai's handmade, (read her story here) was founded in Cambodia in 1994. In 2009, programs were launched in Afghanistan and Vietnam. Support offices are located in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

What does Hagar International do around the world?

"Although each individual journey is different, each woman and child walks through three critical steps:  recovery, building resilience, and reintegration."

Here is the Why, Who, What and How of their work in their own words-

"Hagar is following the example of Jesus Christ in humbly serving and loving those rejected and exploited by society. Hagar nurtures hope, healing, resilience, dignity, family and community so that all involved (donors, partners, staff and beneficiaries) experience transformation.

Hagar is responsive to the most severe injustice and alienation among women and children on an individual basis. Consistent with Jesus' example, Hagar provides services without any discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs, race, gender, culture, social position, or nationality. 

Hagar is tenacious - whatever it takes and as long as it takes - in recognition of the deep wounding of severe abuse. Hagar provides high quality professional services in health care, legal aid, counseling, education, family services as well as employment through innovative businesses. 

Hagar is committed to real life giving relationships as the most powerful currency of transformation for both survivors and supporters. Hagar identifies the individual needs and potential of each survivor and nurtures, through relationships, their journey toward resilience and dignity."

How can we be involved in Hagar International's work?

*Read the stories of the women and children served by Hagar.

*If you are interested in working full time in the fight against trafficking, Hagar has positions open.

*You can partner with Hagar through giving.

*Keep informed by signing up for Hagar's quarterly newsletter.

*Become a Hagar Prayer Partner.

*Be a volunteer.

Because the annual revenues generated by Hagar USA have not exceeded one million dollars, they are not rated by Charity Navigator. Look here for Hagar's accounting of  their financials. For an independent review, check out Guidestar's Hagar rating.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

International Justice Mission

Freedom Week Update...

Ecclesia, the college ministry at The Church as Shelby Crossings, with the help of Montevallo students and professors, raised $5,750 for organizations combating human trafficking! That total is $750 over their goal.  Ninety percent of the money raised was given by college students!

That's good stuff, isn't it? I'm proud to know those guys and girls who worked so hard to make it happen.

Now- this week's organization...  

The International Justice Mission 

Whenever I hear the name International Justice Mission these are the mental images that pop into my mind...


Growing up with two brothers, I rarely watched or played anything girly. We played army, detectives and Super Heroes. In fact, one of my favorite cartoons was The Justice League. There was just something about knowing that the Super Heroes were friends and worked together to fight against evil that made sense to me. They shared the same values and understood what it meant to live among mere mortals while balancing the responsibility of incredible super powers. Why shouldn't they work as a team? (For the sake of full transparency, I loved that Wonder Woman was a brunette- almost all the heroines in the 70's were blond and that was disheartening for a brown haired girl.)

As I have learned more about the IJM this week, I feel certain there are real life super heroes. No secret identities or capes or (thank goodness) tights, no fame or high praise, just real people fighting injustice. Real people refusing to look away even though that would be easier.  Real, normal, every day people that not only believe we are called to something more, but actually live it wielding the only true super power- God's love.

Facts about the IJM--
  • Established in 1997
  • 14 field offices, located in Bolivia, Guatemala, India, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia
  • 2 casework alliance offices, located in Ecuador and Honduras
  • Headquartered in Washington, DC
  • Partner offices in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK
  • More than 400 staff (90 percent are nationals of the countries in which they work) 
  • IJM has an overall four star rating from Charity Navigator.
What the IJM does-- (quoted from IJM's site)
  • Victim Relief 
    IJM's first priority in its casework is immediate relief for the victim of the abuse being committed.

  • Perpetrator Accountability
    IJM seeks to hold perpetrators accountable for their abuse in their local justice systems. Accountability changes the fear equation: When would-be perpetrators are rightly afraid of the consequences of their abuse, the vulnerable do not need to fear them.

  •  Survivor Aftercare
    IJM aftercare staff and trusted local aftercare partners work to ensure that victims of oppression are equipped to rebuild their lives and respond to the complex emotional and physical needs that are often the result of abuse.

  • Structural Transformation
    IJM seeks to prevent abuse from being committed against others at risk by strengthening the community factors and local judicial systems that will deter potential oppressors.

    For more details the IJM's four step action plan, click here. 

    How can we be involved?

  • Know the facts about trafficking.
  • Sign the petition and stand up for freedom.
  • Join the IJM prayer partner program. Prayer partners are a great encouragement to the staff of IJM. Weekly prayer updates are emailed to the Prayer Partners. Notifications will be sent when an urgent prayer need arises.
  • Check out the internships and career opportunities that are available if you are looking for a "front line" position in the battle against trafficking.   
  • Share information about trafficking through embeddable banners on your blog or websites. 
  • For even more opportunities, visit IJM's get involved page. 
The founding call for the IJM comes from Isaiah 1:17 "Seek justice, protect the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow."  Let's join these real life "heroes" in seeking "Truth, Justice and the Kingdom way."  (Yes, I had to say it.)  There is a role for each of us.

    image credits:
    Hall of justice
    Super Friends