I didn’t expect how working at the New Orleans Children’s Advocacy Center would influence my Christian faith, something that is incredibly important to me.
As a Christian, I believe that the world is in a profound state of brokenness apart from God, and that there is hope to be found in Christ alone. I believe that there is nothing I could have done to save myself from this brokenness, and, therefore, place my trust fully in Christ, who, I believe, was punished in my place, and rose victoriously over death (Titus 3:4-7).
I’ve been near to this brokenness the Bible talks about before. We see it in murder, politics, hunger, and divorce. But the CAC has brought me close to it in ways I haven’t previously been.
I’ve seen some of the world’s brokenness through my thesis research on human trafficking. I spent all of May conducting interviews with anti-trafficking organizations. I thought I had an understanding of this crime. But, it’s a completely different experience to be sitting on a couch when you see a young victim of child trafficking walk into the room, instead of reading about it in a newspaper. Witnessing this put a deeper dimension on my understanding of trafficking.
I’ve read the literature. I’ve done the research. I’ve conducted the interviews. But seeing the impact of this crime with my own eyes was a fully different experience.
This girl was starved, scared, and didn’t know how to meet her needs apart from her trafficker. It was psychological manipulation at its finest.
The day I saw this girl, I wrote the following in my journal:
“As a Christian, so often I unintentionally act as if I am escaping from the world. I unintentionally distance myself from the world around me by staying where I’m comfortable. But Christ came to seek and save the lost. To be near to the broken. So why have I not also prioritized this?”
I don’t believe that God means for me to live in a bubble, separate from the rest of the world. Christ didn’t when he came to earth. He was near to the broken. He ate with outcasts, with people the society looked down upon.
I have had trouble forgetting about this girl who walked through our doors. Where did she go after she left us? I don’t know if she had a safe place to go.
This is one girl in New Orleans. There are countless others.
There’s a promise in Christianity that God will redeem all things. In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, we read the following:
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, ESV)
The stories of these victims of child trafficking are so different than my own. I am beyond thankful for the upbringing I had, filled with security, provision and love. I have two of the world’s best parents, and two incredibly fun-loving brothers. But I’m sheltered. It’s easy to accept the promises I read in the Bible, such as the one just cited, without fully understanding the impact of their reality. That only comes with understanding the stark contrast they create with stories such as belong to these child trafficking victims.
As a believer, this hope of redemption is something I cling to. But, it can’t ever serve as an excuse for not being fully present now. In fact, Christ himself, being fully acquainted with this hope, wept with the dead Lazarus’ sister, though he knew that he would soon raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:32-44). He voluntarily entered into broken situations to bring redemption.
I can’t allow my lucky position of privilege to become a sanctuary from the rest of the world.
I want to be near to the broken too. I don’t want to fall privy to the intention to mentally escape the realities in this world. I want to do everything I can in my current capacity to offer healing and hope to children such as the child trafficking victim who walked through the CAC’s doors last week. What other response can I possibly have?