I Hope We All Make It.

I hope we all thrive in a way where we remember our humanity, our connectedness; that we are all 99.9% the same DNA; that we are family, a body each with unique parts to play. That despite what someone may have done, where they live, how poor they are, what race, religion, gender or sexual orientation they are; that we are all worth loving, we all deserve hope, we all deserve life.

We all deserve to make it.

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“I am not interested in competing with anyone.  I hope we all make it.”

I saw this quote a while ago and it resonated with me.  Every day I want to believe it.  Every day I struggle to put it into practice.

Life feels like one giant competition sometimes. Even in the beginning there is almost a competition for a life to begin.  In the womb we compete against many elements to survive.  We compete in school for grades or in sports- against others or our own expectations.  We compete for jobs against more or less experienced and talented people. We compete in relationships; for someone’s heart, to be loved.  Women and some religions or races compete for equality – equal pay or equal treatment.

In the very end, or at some point along the way, we compete to stay alive.  To exist.  To be.  To make it.

Yet somehow despite the strength of our own fight; the fight for acceptance, for love, to win, to accomplish, or to be the best leads to us dragging others down in the process.  Instead of relying on one another and working together, so often our instincts or our selfish nature kicks in and we are right back to Eden; it is all about ourselves, our own survival and the competition takes over.

But I hope we all make it.

We live in a society where if someone is doing well- they will be torn down.  My sisters and I often speak about Taylor Swift for example.  Of course she like anyone is flawed.  She’s dated a bit; some think she isn’t the best role model.  Some adore her.  Yet so many tear her apart.  She is shamed and slated and called out for every mistake that she makes.  People can’t seem to embrace or support others (especially women) when they do well.  Taylor for example gives away $10000 to schools and fans, she is honest and kind. She doesn’t just sing about sex (which many with very young fans may do).  Yet all people seem to talk about is her dating life or her outfits.  Even though she has had so much criticism and grown up from 15 in the public eye, she remains poised. She has lots of brilliant female friends including some from school and she is fiercely loyal. Yet, as she says “Haters gonna hate…”

We live in a world full of cyber bullying as well as face to face bullying.  And subtle, yet often public shaming.  Fat shaming, slut shaming, skinny shaming; on and on.  Women tearing each other apart.  For what? Because we don’t think they represent us as females well?  Because we are jealous?  Because they provide unrealistic expectations? Because they are all that we are not, or they are who fear we will become?


Comparison is the thief of joy.

Taylor Swift said (in this beautiful and inspiring speech she made when I saw her in Hyde Park in June) something that I know to be true but so often forget.  When we see someone else’s life, or life on social media, we are seeing a “highlight reel”.  We see our own “behind the scenes” every day.  We see our own mess, our own frustrations and failings.  We see our ‘no makeup’ selfies and our bloopers.  So how can we possibly compare that to someone else’s highlights?  We so often never see their behind the scenes.  If we did- the comparisons may not be that harsh.

Is this what makes us compete?  Because we are so often comparing our messy lives to someone else’s best bits instead of just trying to be our best?

“You are not the opinion of someone who doesn’t know you.  You are your own definition of beautiful and worthwhile.”  – Taylor Swift

Nobody gets more Grace from God than me.  Nobody deserves more love.  Nobody is entitled to more eternity than me.  Jesus died for me as much as he did anyone else.  So why all the comparisons?

I mean I get it!  It’s hard not to.  I do it all day every day.  She has the perfect (fill in the blank_) husband, body, job, face, health, family…..
But, really my only comparison should be to my best self shouldn’t it?  The best version of the person God has called me to be.  And perhaps, if anyone, to the man who walked with sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors and thieves.  The man who loved, poured out miracles, and forgave them when they spat on him, took his clothes and hung him on a tree.

Even then; even in the midst of all of his pain and rejection, Jesus hoped we would all make it.

He died so we would all make it.

I hope and pray we all make it.


The world can be so terrifying in the way people will destroy others for so many reasons, and because of so many theologies or mind-sets.  You only have to watch the news for 5 minutes to despair of human kind.  War.  Rape.  Torture.  Murder.  Slavery.  Mankind pitted against mankind.

ISIS ravaging humanity in Iraq and Syria.  A ‘theology of rape’ being promoted with girls as young as 12 being raped; bookmarked with ‘prayer’ and religious practice.

‘Black Lives Matter’ being screamed at the top of heartbroken lungs.  Whilst others profess ‘All Lives Matter’ in some ways undermining the outcry of injustice at all the ways black men and women have been robbed of their lives, their humanity.

We shouldn’t have to say ‘All Lives Matter’.  We shouldn’t have to cry ‘Black Lives Matter’.  We shouldn’t have to remind each other of our inherent value and worth.  We should all hope that we all make it.

The Nazi regime and the atrocities carried out is perhaps one of the most memorable and heart-breaking examples of some lives being deemed less important than others.  Jew.  Black.  Old.  Disabled.  Not worthy even of life.

Yet today it is still the case daily- woman, black, gay, other religion, other nationality, other caste, less intelligent, criminal; seen as less human, less worthy, less important, less worth making it.

Surely there is enough pain in the world with natural disaster and disease without us adding to it with our pain, anger, jealousy and hatred?  I know so much of this come from despair, desperation, or hopelessness.  Perhaps you call it sin?

But what if we stopped competing? Stopped seeing others as less than ourselves even in our small spheres of influence?


Somehow despite all the horror and despite all the loss I still hope.  I am not interested in comparisons or competitions.  I really do hope we all make it.

Those who have treated me badly- I hope you make it.

Those that let me down, didn’t protect me, or caused me harm- I hope you make it.

Those that I damaged, lied to, hurt or broke along my way- I hope you make it.

Those whom I’ve compared myself to, been jealous of- I hope you make it.

Those who have done unspeakable wrong- I hope you make it.

Those who scream silence, in pain or fear- I hope you make it.

Those who are totally alone- I hope you make it.

Those for whom there seems no way out- I hope you make it.

More than that- I hope you don’t just make it.  I hope you don’t just survive.  I hope and pray we all thrive.

I hope we all thrive in a way that doesn’t mean stepping on another to get where we want to be.  I hope we all thrive in a way that builds others up with us as we go along.  I hope we all thrive in a way that we don’t have to put someone down, in order to go up.  I hope we all thrive in a way that we will stop and cry out when we see others’ not making it.

I hope we all thrive by stepping out and helping, rescuing, carrying, petitioning and advocating for all those around us who are not making it.

I hope we all thrive in a way where we remember our humanity, our connectedness; that we are all 99.9% the same DNA; that we are family, a body each with unique parts to play. That despite what someone may have done, where they live, how poor they are, what race, religion, gender or sexual orientation they are; that we are all worth loving, we all deserve hope, we all deserve life.

We all deserve to make it. 

I am not interested in competing.  I hope we all make it.  I must keep reminding myself of this and live it out in my life today even in the smallest ways.

My Heart…

Hello all,

I just wanted to post a quick update on some really exciting recent developments.

As many of you will hopefully know, I am very passionate about seeing an end to human trafficking of any kind, and I have spoken about this in many blog posts including ‘Fighting for Something‘ and my ‘Stop the Traffik’ posts!  After a trip Sabine took to Bulgaria with the A21 Campaign, and God placing this passion on our hearts in a number of ways; my amazing friend Sabine and I decided to start an abolition group to raise funds and awareness for the A21 Campaign.

You can read all about how this developed in our blog posts on our website http://www.restoredfor.org.uk/

We also have a facebook page and a twitter account- @Restoredfor

So far it has been a really exciting time of developing the website with help from amazing friends, doing all the photos and content, getting informed, sharing what we know, and preparing for fundraising events we would love to do.

 

 

Here is a taster from the latest blog post about how we got started…

“I have always been an empathetic person, and a compassionate one.  Some things break my heart- Poverty, Injustice, Violence, the Vulnerable or Oppressed.  But I don’t think anything has ever broken my heart quite like the issue of Human Trafficking.  I don’t know if it’s just because it is so horrific, the way people can hurt other people like that just for profit, or if it is the way it views people as commodities, and uses them until they can be used no more; but from the moment my eyes were opened to this injustice, my heart was in pieces, my mind couldn’t comprehend it, and it made me sick to my stomach.

I had often heard about issues of prostitution, people being kidnapped, even sex trafficking rings but I never really understood what any of this meant.  When people talked of children being stolen for prostitution rings, I genuinely, naively thought that someone would just hold onto them until they were an adult.  I don’t think my mind could comprehend the horrors.  That was until one day last year when Christine Caine the founder of The A21 Campaign spoke at our Church about Human Trafficking, and told us 1st hand accounts of the reality of modern day slavery.  She showed the ‘Natalia’s Story’ video and I just could not believe it!  I couldn’t believe that things like that really happen.  Nor could I believe that there are 80,000 more stories just like hers in Europe alone.

At first I was really overwhelmed.  My heart hurt and I didn’t know what to do.  But then I was reminded in the same talk by Christine that there are 1 BILLION Christians on the planet, who if mobilised properly would be a powerful force to fight against these injustices. I was reminded that crying isn’t compassion, but that compassion is being moved to do something.  In Luke 30v34 the Samaritan has compassion so he goes to the man and puts him on his own donkey.  He may have been busy, but he was willing to be inconvenienced and interrupted to do something to help another.  In the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus has compassion on the crowd so he fed them!  From hurt and compassion I believe should come passion and action.  And this is where my heart for ‘Restored’ came from, and thankfully Sabine’s heart was in the same place after her trip.

God isn’t looking for super heroes or for us to necessarily be on the ‘front line’ of the battle.  But he is looking for prayer warriors, fundraisers, awareness spreaders and for people to do what they can with what they have.

Almost immediately I set out on a mission to get informed, and I try to do so every day.  Every time I open my heart and my mind to something it is easy to get numb or complacent, so I look further and try to do more.

Sabine and I read the A21 Campaign website information repeatedly and looked for ways to get involved.  As she said the ’21 ways to help’ was extremely informative.  http://www.thea21campaign.org/21-ways-to-help.php

We decided that on top of praying, and sharing everything we had found or learnt through social media (Facebook, Twitter, our blogs) that another thing we could do was share face to face with people who we knew could make a change also.  Our hearts overflowing, we shared with our Church Connect Group about all that we knew and felt about trafficking.  We used resources including videos and prayer points from the A21 Campaign website, and Sabine shared all about her trip to Bulgaria.  Our hearts, and our pain came across and our passion was shared.  We then did the same at our workplace where there are lots of amazing Christians, as again we wanted to empower and equip even more people to get involved.

One thing we were really keen on, with both of these groups of people, as well as raising awareness and praying, was to do something practical so people could take action right away.  Again A21 had the perfect suggestion, so we decided to write cards of encouragement and send gifts to the beautiful survivors at the shelters.  All the details of how you can do this are on the website.

It felt so good to do something active to help in what can sometimes feel like a hopeless and dark situation.  But as you can see from the pictures and the responses it made a difference!

A few weeks later Sabine and I were then privileged to share the same presentation and our heart with a group of ladies from our Church who along with neighbours and friends had committed at a women’s conference to raising £500 for the A21 Campaign.   It was an amazing afternoon, and with the clothes swap that they did, they raised £160!  Since then they have raised even more from other events.  Again this showed us what a group of passionate people can do, and added to the spark that was growing for our abolition group.

We have aimed every day to get more involved with this fight.  We have volunteered, been on training, had many discussions, watched films such as ‘Nefarious’, ‘Human Trafficking’ and ‘Trade’ (which I will share more about soon), followed closely news and events, and of course prayed to God for wisdom, to show us what action to take, and to see an end to this injustice.

We have met many amazing people fanatical about seeing an end to human trafficking.  We could see there is a massive problem, yet that we can be part of the solution.  From all of this; ‘Restored: for such a time as this’ was born.

We would love you to join us in this venture.  Please keep an eye on the blog, on Twitter, Facebook and the website, so that we can equip and encourage each other, and of course so that we can share with you more ways you can get involved, and help raise funds and awareness for the A21 Campaign.”

 

xxx

Getting Equipped to Stop The Traffik …

On the 30th June 2012 the lovely Sabine and I went to the Oasis Centre in London for a training day from ‘Stop the Traffik’ ahead of us volunteering for the ‘Gift Box’ Campaign which I will share more about soon.   I just wanted to share with you all a few lessons I learned, and how you too can get equipped in the fight against Human Trafficking.

Stop The Traffik are an amazing charity that have been going in the UK since 2007.  Read their story here  Visit their website and sign up to their blog using the links on the right on this page.

I was full of anticipation heading to this training because as massive as my heart is to stop trafficking, I know that in order to make my contribution I need to be resourced, equipped and empowered.  And thankfully that what Stop The Traffik do.

We learnt about some of the tactics that traffickers use to deceive people into being trafficked.  I think we can have this naive view that trafficking is only about prostitution, or that people must be stolen like in ‘Taken’ or just be stupid.  Sadly in reality there is often very clever deception that takes place.  For example a job advert for a well know building company to work in Spain, with training provided- when in reality an 18 year old from Russia ended up locked into a building site with no safety equipment, no money, and had to eventually walk to Germany to escape.  Or an advert for a summer job abroad with a family business selling ice cream in Europe- to which a girl in Latvia applied, took a plane to Heathrow, met someone in Costa Coffee, had her documents taken, and was then sold in that Costa for £4,000 to work in a brothel in the North of England.

These aren’t just stories.  These are realities!!

Human trafficking is to be deceived or taken against your will, bought or sold and transport into exploitation; whether forced labour or sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced marriage, forced begging or for the removal of organs.

1.2 million children are trafficked every year — Estimate by UNICEF

There are even reports that some trafficking groups are switching their cargo from drugs to human beings, in a search  of high profits at lower risk — The UN Office on Drugs and Crime

Approx 4 x the profit can be made from a person than drugs.  The person can be willingly brought into the country whereas drugs would be illegally hidden.  A person can be re-used again and again.

Trafficking affects every continent and every country; whether it’s an origin country where people are trafficked from; a transit country where people are trafficked through; or a destination country where people are trafficked to. 

On average, one person is is trafficked within and between countries every 30 seconds

Stop the Traffik recognised the fact that the Olympics provided a unique opportunity to reach a huge number of people from all over the world with the truth about human trafficking.  There was some speculation that trafficking could increase during the Olympics, but the reality is it happens every day! Our aim was to raise awareness and also do research about trafficking during this time, whilst the world was in and around London.  They recognised that power doesn’t just come in sharing a statistic, but engaging in conversation, and empowering people to make a change themselves.

Stop the Traffik and the Police…

As part of our training we were privileged to be spoken to by one of the Inspectors for ‘SCD9’ a special unit of the Met Police who are focusing on trafficking, and have a great relationship with ‘Stop the Traffik’.  He told us that they have 35 trained detectives, and , police trained on human trafficking, which is amazing!  There are no boundaries to trafficking and therefore it can happen anywhere.  Citizens really need to be able to notice the signs and report their suspicions.  How this information is reported has been developed.

You can report any suspicions you have on the Stop the Traffik website ‘Report Incident‘ tab.

Or call the Police Trafficking Helpline: 08007832589  For advice/ info: UK Human Trafficking Centre 08447782406.  For victim support: The Salvation Army 03003038151

Trafficked people often lack movement, language, documents and information on their area.  therefore the police are being trained to ask the right questions, eg where is your passport? When did you last leave your house?  It is so important for the police to see them as victims not suspects, and massive progression has happened in this area.  Victims are now often sent to victim centres rather than police stations, and are given 45 for their case to be studied rather than an immediate deportation.

1 trafficker in England made £2.2 Million from 1 Croatian person.

A trafficker in London made £40,000 from 1 sex trafficked victim in one year.

There are currently 46 live cases being investigated.  It is an appealing crime that must be stopped.

It has been important for people to know the difference between trafficking and smuggling.  Or from a person trafficked into sexual servitude, and someone working as a prostitute.  Victims of human trafficking don’t “self identify”- they often don’t realise that they have been ‘Trafficked’ therefore it is up to us and the police and NGO’s to help them.  They are often given a ‘legend’ or intricate back story, and told to abscond to a certain place.  All kinds of threats and tactics are used.

However, there has been break-though and convictions.  Recently a trafficker received 20 years for trafficking 2 Nigerian women.  And the case of the ‘Romanian Cinderella‘ received 40 years total convictions

ACT Groups:

Stop the Traffik have 50 ‘Act Groups’ (Active Communities against Trafficking) nationally.  These groups educate people on trafficking and campaign.

‘Human Trafficking’ The Movie:

When Sabine and I got home, after being equipped and excited about the difference we can make, we decided to watch ‘Human Trafficking‘ (2005).  I would say if you haven’t watch it please do!!  Although fictional, it covers really well 3 different types of human trafficking that can take place.  I couldn’t believe that what was a prominent enough issue to be made into a film in 2005, could be something that I, and the world are only just opening up their eyes to!

“We must face the fact that none of this horror would be possible, if our culture didn’t create a demand for it.  We need to realise that modern day slavery is only occurring because we choose to ignore it”  

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”

 – William Wilberforce

Think about how you can get equipped and empowered to fight trafficking yourself…