Friday, June 5, 2009

Joy's Testimony: From Despair to Cambodia

A testimony of how the Holy Spirit moved me from a place of fear and despair to my present plans to join the Ratanak Foundation in Cambodia this summer, to help in the work of restoring children who have been rescued from the sex trade.

Three and a half years ago, I watched a CBC documentary ‘Sex Slaves’ about the plight of women in Ukraine. One young woman I just couldn’t get out of my mind. The family lived in extreme poverty; her younger brother had leukemia; she was desperate to get him medical help, and so she left home to look for work in the city. There she was tricked, brutally raped, beaten, sold and trafficked into a prostitution ring.

I learned that thousands of girls are trafficked internationally each year. The trafficking of children and women is the second largest crime in the world today, next to drugs and guns. This vicious industry is growing.

I was angry that CBC aired such a disturbing documentary but didn’t suggest what one could do to help. My pastor and two close friends listened to my frustrations and despair at this evil crime. I cried, they sat and held me and prayed. I realized that was the beginning of a prayer of solidarity – while I couldn’t pray, my friends prayed and lifted me and the girls up to Jesus.

I eventually went to CBC and asked to borrow the documentary to show at our church. We showed the film on the Anniversary of the Massacre of the Women in Montreal. I met Tom Axworthy, who was doing research work on Human Trafficking at Queens University. The provincial election was on at the time, so we invited the politicians to come. Only a few people came that evening. One Green party candidate joined us. I met a woman, Melody, who expressed interest in getting together to pray.

During a prayer time, my pastor and close friend, Linda, heard that God wants us to begin praying regularly and consistently for this issue. What followed seemed like months of prayers but silence from God. I felt God was far away.

I felt useless and I wondered if I could do anything at all. After all, I’m not a private investigator, a policeman or a politician. I asked God, surely you don’t expect me to sing and dance my way into the dark world of Human Trafficking? I thought perhaps God will call the right persons with the skills to fight this crime.

Almost a year later, Melody invited me to a Human Trafficking Conference. Looking back, I see the hand of God in this step by step.

At the Conference, I met Brian McConaghy, the founder of Ratanak Foundation. I felt a connection with Brian. He is from my home town Vancouver and he attended my old church there. As I listened to him speak, a still small voice was leading me to dream about joining his organization to help the children in Cambodia.

God started to bring me together with other people: several women joined me to pray. I learned about International Justice Mission. Melody invited me to join the Ratanak Foundation Core group. Linda invited me to join the ACTS group at church and to share what I knew about Human Trafficking. We made Human Trafficking our focus that winter.

During this time, God spoke to me through my desires and dreams. But most of my efforts to raise awareness on Human Trafficking were met with little interest. It seemed that the Holy Spirit was teaching me to trust without a need to see fruit. The Spirit grew my passion to simply follow His leading. I had a sense God was meeting me heart to heart. As I grieved for the girls, it seemed that I was living in the heart of God, and I learned to trust God’s love and power. I learned to wait on God’s timing.

Recently I danced for a Trafficking conference, and it was a healing experience for me as I danced out the pain of abuse. You see, I too had a childhood of abuse and violence, though not as horrific as the girls’ experiences in Cambodia.

And so I find it an awesome thing for God to use me to be part of His healing process. I hold on to God’s promise for me and for the abused girls – God says: “Don’t be afraid, I am with you. You are my beloved daughter. I have called you by name, you are mine. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned and the flame will not consume you. You are precious in my sight and honored and I love you.” A favorite writer of mine, Henri Nouwen said ‘When we see the God in us, we begin to see the God in the world.’

This summer, I can’t wait for Jesus to give me eyes to see what he sees, and for Jesus to take my hand and show me what is in His heart for the girls in Cambodia. I want to be there in solidarity with the abused.

Brian McConaghy mentioned that many mental health professionals thought that the girls rescued from slavery are so damaged they will never recover and yet Jesus heals them!

I want to be part of that healing. To witness to Jesus’ resurrection. That’s why I’m going to Cambodia with the Ratanak organization.

To raise funds for the children in Cambodia, my young piano students, ages 5 to 18, will be playing in a fundraising concert on Wednesday, June 10, 7 pm, at Runnymede United Church, 432 Runnymede Rd., Toronto, Ontario. M6S 2Y8

These young students are the same ages as the girls who were sold into the world of violence and abuse in Cambodia. At the concert, we celebrate the gift of our children here in Canada and at the same time we remember the suffering of the children in Cambodia.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Joy,Thank you for sharing what's in your heart. It is absolutely an amazing story of your journey with Christ's passion to serve him in Cambodia. You have touched my heart and inspired me to walk deeper with the Lord in this matter. I am so privilaged to journey with you this summer to Cambodia, to be the hands,feet and voice for JESUS!!