What Now?

Posted Jan 03, 2011 by 4 Comments

Well, I’m home.  After a full 72 hours of travel (23 of which were spent in airplanes!), I made it back to Indianapolis.  All of a sudden I was caught up in Christmas, New Years, winter…  Let’s just say I’ve been a bit disoriented.

A lot of people have asked me how I am doing.  Many of them, however, are not asking about jet lag.  They want to know how I am doing emotionally.  After learning what I did about sex trafficking, they want to know how my heart is holding up.

I’ve stumbled a bit through my answers so far, but here is what I’ve tried to tell them…

Thick Skin

Because of what I do – traveling around the world and encountering humanity’s greatest injustices one after another – I have developed a bit of a thick skin.  I mean, I’ve seen so much awful and heart-breaking injustice over the years that I’ve had no choice but to put up a few walls to protect my heart.

Usually I simply compartmentalize what I see and then process it slowly over time.  Every now and then it builds up and I spend an hour or so bawling my eyes out, but for the most part, I can make it through the day.

My trip to Cambodia, however, was not like the rest.  Processing what I learned there is not a matter of walls or thick skin.

How do I respond after visiting a country where signs like these are necessary?

You see, I have no “compartments” for a six year old girl rescued from a brothel.  I don’t have the categories to explain a mother selling her own daughter into prostitution.  The evils surrounding sex trafficking are so unspeakably horrific that I can barely even wrap my head around them.

Few and Far Between

Making things more difficult is that there are very few organizations on the ground in Cambodia working to combat this issue.  Sure, there are fantastic ministries like International Justice Mission, the Center for Global Impact and Rapha House, but they are few and far between.

Although they are doing amazing work, there needs to be a lot more done if we ever want to see the situation change.  I left Cambodia feeling like the quest for women’s rights in Southeast Asia has only just begun.

It’s going to be a long time before I’ve fully processed all that I learned and discovered there.

What Now?

So here’s the big question I’ve been asking myself now that I’ve returned home: What now?  How do we respond to this issue?  How do we let our new knowledge change the way we engage with the world?

In the midst of great poverty, there is hope for Cambodia.

Or to put it another way… How do we move from numb helplessness to lifelong action?

Well, I see three major ways for us to respond.  By learning, by giving and by doing…

Learning

Sex traffickers around the world have one major ally in the suburbs of America: ignorance.  The less we know and care about the evil they perpetrate, the stronger they are.

So our first step must be to learn.  We need to read books about the issues.  We need to visit websites.  We need to watch films.

My life is connected to theirs.

Here are a few first steps to take:

  • Read Just Courage by Gary Haugen (president of International Justice Mission), a wonderful book about aligning your heart in the pursuit for global justice.
  • Read Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof, a difficult but important book about women’s rights worldwide (this book both wrecked and encouraged me in some powerful ways!).
  • Watch this youtube video, an intro to the work of International Justice Mission.
  • Read Terrify No More by Gary Haugen, an account of one of his organization’s daring raids to free young girls from a brothel outside of Phnom Penh.
  • Get a copy of At the End of Slavery, a documentary about trafficking worldwide.

Giving

But we cannot simply fill up with knowledge.  We have to get our money into the game.

There is a reason we say, “Put your money where your mouth is,” and why the Bible says “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).  Our money speaks volumes about what we truly care about.

Here are a handful of ways you can immediately put your money to work…

Doing

The girls from CGI’s Daughter’s Project.

Finally, we need to change the way we live.  It may seem like these issues are all the way “over there,” but there are many ways we can act in our own lives to bring change.

Here are a few ideas to get you started…

  • Host a screening of the film At the End of Slavery.  IJM provides everything you need to show the film to your friends and neighbors.  Once we’re all moved in to WND’s new office space, I plan on doing just that.
  • Host a Rapha House “Freedom Party” in your home.
  • Consider taking a trip to Cambodia with the Center for Global Impact.  I know it’s a big step, but just imagine how much your life will change after seeing these things first-hand!  Email Chris Alexander, director of CGI, for more information.
  • PRAY!  There is so much to pray for here.  Big picture stuff, individual stories, the effectiveness of specific ministries… The key is simply to pray.

Cambodia now has a big place in my heart!

Goliath

Sex trafficking is a Goliath of our time.  It will be a long and difficult struggle to bring freedom to the millions of enslaved girls in the world.

But after seeing the work of CGI, IJM and Rapha House, I now believe that it is possible.  This Goliath can be brought down… as long as you and I choose to act.

Remember, God is on our side on this one.  And if God is for us, who can be against us?

——

So, that’s a long answer to a rather short question.  How am I doing now that I’m home from Cambodia?

I guess the answer is: I don’t know.  All I can say for sure is that my life will never be the same…

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About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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Comments

  1. Linda said... 

    Reply

    January 3rd, 2011 at 2:15 pm  

    AMEN! I was moved by the Holy Spirit like I never have been in my life the first time I encountered what CGI is doing in Cambodia. I’m excited and scared to death as I plan to go there this summer, Lord willing. Thank you for such powerful pictures and stories that call us to ACTION for the glory of God.

  2. Jim.M said... 

    Reply

    January 3rd, 2011 at 10:21 pm  

    It is so important that we keep this front and center. Barry thank you for putting on your armor and having the courage to put yourself in the middle of this evil. Thank you for bringing this to our homes and offices and dinner tables.

    I know I probably speak for most people reading this work when I say thank you for sacrificing a piece of your heart so that we will be without excuse now. I pray that we will not simply shake our heads and think that someone else will act.

    This is a huge injustice, and unlike many of the stories you have shared it seems the resources being poured into it are so small in comparison to the problem.

    You have also given us some very specific and practical next steps. As we consider what next, I would also point out that WND is now a part of this in that you have exposed the reality of what is happening half a world away, I will pray that WND also finds support for it’s work so we will continue to have these stories to ponder.

    Many Blessings, and welcome home.

  3. Jenny Fitzgerald said... 

    Reply

    January 3rd, 2011 at 11:27 pm  

    Barry ~ Thank you. Thank you for inviting us into the unfathomable injustices happening in girls’ and women’s lives. I can’t wrap my head/heart around it all and I haven’t been. I, too, thank you for giving your heart in this way so that we can also see. I am praying and will be asking the Lord to make a difference through our prayers, giving and doing.

  4. Judi Nichols said... 

    Reply

    January 20th, 2011 at 1:58 pm  

    My heart hurts for Cambodia. There hasn’t been a day thats gone by that I haven’t thought about those beautiful children I’ve held. Cambodia holds a special place in my heart. There is hope for Cambodia. I believe this with all of my heart. All the women, men and children I met while in Cambodia, changed me life. My whole perspective on the world and my life, has changed. I saw God’s redemption first hand. Holding those girls in your arms is a feeling that can never be expressed in words.

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