How our readers are changing the world

The mission of World Next Door is to use compelling journalism, hands-on mentoring, and influential leadership
to change ordinary people into wild-eyed revolutionaries for God’s kingdom
and to unleash them on local and global issues of social injustice.

Diving In
Interview by Brooke Hartman

From the suburban Midwest to a remote Cambodian village. From counseling teens in Indiana to leading Bible studies for at-risk girls in Cambodia. From totally unaware that a specific social injustice was even occurring, to diving in headfirst and pulling others into the water with her. And, eventually, to stepping on a plane and flying into the heart of the issue herself with her family in tow.

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Tasha Simons

How does this even happen?

Let’s ask Tasha Simons: a wild-eyed revolutionary unleashed on the global injustice of sex trafficking.

How did you first get involved with World Next Door?

I heard about World Next Door at Grace Church, and I remember reading an article about a young boy named Peter in Ukraine. I had spent a month in Ukraine on a mission trip when I was in college and my heart was already softened for the struggles Ukrainians face when I read this article. I was hooked from the beginning. I attended a fundraiser for World Next Door and signed up to join the prayer team.

How and why did you get involved with The Center for Global Impact? What moved you from simply learning about a specific injustice to actively engaging in the fight?

In the winter of 2010, Barry wrote a series of articles on the World Next Door blog about sex trafficking in Cambodia. It hit me at the core of my soul, and although I felt a range of emotions, at some point I just felt numb. It was too much to see the injustice so clearly. I saw through God’s eyes how heartbreaking it is when a child is used for the sexual gratification of another. Bill Hybels asks: “What is your holy discontent? What is it that you can’t stand anymore?” I realized I couldn’t stand sex trafficking. I had to do something. God made it clear that I was meant to be a voice for those who have been silenced.

Tasha with some of the Imprint Project girls at Angkor Wat in 2012.

Tasha with some of the Imprint Project girls at Angkor Wat in 2012.

It was unique that World Next Door ended the articles on sex trafficking with hope and “next steps” for me, as a reader, to get involved. After reading such a heartbreaking story, I needed hope and actual ways to make a difference. I started to host events and share about the situation in Cambodia. I raised money for CGI through trunk party events where I sold the byTavi products made by those in the vocational programs in Cambodia.

Over the last three years, I have had the opportunity to share the work CGI is doing at several churches, schools, youth groups, fundraisers, trunk shows, and seminars to over 2000 people, and ultimately made the trip to Cambodia with my family to see firsthand the work CGI is doing.

So how did you and your family end up in Cambodia?!

There was enough interest at a justice seminar held at Grace with CGI that Grace sent a team of people on a Vision Trip. I hadn’t initially planned to take my kids on the trip (I had gone by myself the previous August), but I knew how hard it was for my kids to grasp poverty at a heartfelt level. They are great kids but they’ve grown up in the suburbs and simply couldn’t relate to the poor. So my family and I went on the trip with several other Vision Team members, and we were able to see the work of CGI firsthand. Everyone on the trip has become passionate volunteers with CGI upon returning, including my own kids.

The Grace Vision Team in Cambodia, July 2013.

The Grace Vision Team in Cambodia, July 2013.

My daughter raised $4,000 within one week through inviting her peers to purchase byTavi products at events we hosted. The first was a mother/daughter event for her middle school peer group at Grace, and we raised $2,000. The following Saturday we spoke at her middle school and raised another $2,000 to those who attended a play.

Just by sharing my experience in Cambodia and letting people know how they can get involved and make a difference, I’ve seen people get excited about joining in the work CGI is doing.

I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to join God’s mission in Cambodia. My heart’s desire is to help others let their heart be broken so they can join God’s mission, engage with their gifts and skills, and change the world with Jesus.