Friday, April 8, 2011


We were privileged to be invited to a wedding last Saturday for one of the women who works at FS. She married a fellow believer and the wedding was at our fellowship.

Her eyes were culturally appropriately downcast for the whole ceremony, but it didn't hide the sweet joy that was on her face. But my favorite part was at the end when the groom instead of a kiss in this modest culture was told, "You may now unveil your bride," and he pulled the veil off of her face and over her head!

Kids and Compassion

A friend asked yesterday how we help our kids handle the things that they know about and see where we live. I thought I'd share my response to her here, too:

The main thing that we've pointed out to our kids is that this isn't the way G0d intended it to be. J said, "The poor will always be with us," because He knew the sin nature. But in the O.T. going into the promised land if they'd followed all of the law there wouldn't have been any poverty. So when our kids are feeling angry about things they see, they know where to pin the blame.

My mom has always said that when we asked difficult questions as kids that she'd listen and answer whatever it was we were ACTUALLY asking. Without adding a lot of extra information from the adult perspective. That way we learned as we were processing the questions at our own rate without being overwhelmed. So when they want to know more about something here that's what we do.

But kids are quite adaptable too when they need/want to know! When we were in NZ before coming here our then 6 year-old was having a long chat with a European tourist somewhere. When he walked back over and we asked what they'd been talking about he nonchalantly said, "Oh, I was just telling her all about the prostitutes we're going to go help." Wonder what that lady thought!

Since being here he has realized more of what his conversation was really about, but he still doesn't know it all. And he still has days of being upset because no one should have to live like people he sees and knows.

I think it's awesome that our kids aren't afraid of the poor, though, and that they see human beings with a soul sitting on the side of the road, not just the circumstances. I think that's the key: that each person has a face.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


A friend in a different country who also works with trafficked women wrote the other day that she'd been to the States recently and was part of a forum on trafficking there. She said that seeing it from the American perspective really brought the realities of what trafficked girls go through home to her heart again in fresh way. She realized that she had let her heart become a bit calloused to the plight of the women where she is located.

She got me thinking about the balancing act that we attempt in our day to day lives of keeping our hearts soft and open to those around us, yet not letting the realities that they face tear us up so much that they keep us from functioning. Walking that wire here is harder than I thought it would be. The reason? Because when the faces are people that you know it's so much more personal. And the longer we are here the more we're aware of the underbelly of the city as well.

For example, there's an eleven year old girl that I've come to love. Her name is Puja and she's homeless and basically alone. She gets picked up by a bus 5 mornings a week and is fortunate to go to a school that takes a percentage of kids off of the street. Then she comes home and carries a basket around a large market selling hair clips, nail polish, etc. in the afternoons to make money. She's got a cheerful, precocious personality and speaks English well because of her school. Tourists love her.

Sounds like she's in a difficult circumstance but is making the most of it, right? That's true. But here's the reality that she lives: while she's not living in a brothel, statistics of street children in this city say there's no way that she hasn't been trafficked on the side by some adult around. There's no way that she hasn't been raped and generally abused. When you look close she has burn scars to prove it.

I have no answer for how to untangle her life! I've offered to try to get her into the hostel that I know her school operates, but she doesn't want to for some reason. I can be kind, offer her friendship, buy things from her, share with her how I live my life, but at the end of it I go back home to my family and she's on the street alone. Her situation is far from uncommon here.

I have daughters who I'm teaching to be pure until marriage but for thousands of mothers in my neighborhood that is an unrealistic option. Not necessarily because of loose morals on the part of their girls, but because in tight communal living and in an atmosphere of people just trying to survive (plus it being a red light area) the odds are that someone will use their daughters before then. They just do their best to look after them and hope that their daughters won't be trafficked away from them into full-time usage.

Behind the scenes knowledge makes walking the wire of compassion difficult. It's also hard when the sufferer has a face that you know and care about.

But the man who walked on water was described as 'a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief' (Is. 53:3) He knows EVERYTHING behind the scenes. And to Him EVERYONE who suffers has a much beloved face....

I can't even imagine His pain.