Today was one of those truly amazing days…
Today was the start of our filming of the kids in post trafficking rehabilitation. This was and is very sensitive stuff. This had been preceded by long and detailed discussions and consultations with aftercare staff over several months. The kids remain very vulnerable and yet their story is one of hope and recovery. We hopped that the telling of their story would, if done correctly, be a blessing to them. Permissions were granted, the girls consulted and all were in agreement as to how we were to proceed.
But today started with miscommunication, timetabling problems, frustrations, distractions and irritants. As a clear pattern of negatives grew I actually became excited! (OK so I’m weird, I’m Irish!) It was so clear to me that Satan did not want today to happen. I said to Cheryl “This is Good, This is going to be a good day. We are going to be just fine”. And so we proceeded.
We arrived at the center before the girls came back from school. When they arrived they gathered around for greetings and introductions. I explained that many Christians had been praying for them for years. I also explained that this TV show would help people know them a bit better. I then asked them if they understood that it is easier to pray for a friend they know rather than a stranger – they got that totally. I then told them that this TV show would help many people who pray for them already to know them a bit more. That would really help them with their prayers. That too was understood. They had agreed to participate in advance but once again I asked them if they were OK with filming and if they were OK with being interviewed. To my surprise all seven hands went up – they were keen to do this!
We started with the fun stuff. “B – roll” they call it in the business. We had them riding their bikes up and down the street… Take One… Take Two… Take Three. They thought we were crazy and laughed at us and had fun “acting”. We then moved into the interviews. The first girl (I will call her Lynn) who is clearly the leader in terms of confidence and poise came up to a balcony. She had been interviewed before – it showed. They got her wired up with a mic and she sat down ready for the questions. Cheryl is a master of this stuff and put her right at ease and let Lynn set the limits of what she was willing to talk about - so right from the start she was in control. The interview was amazing. What a privilege to witness Lynn entrusting her heart to us as she laughed, cried and attached herself to our hearts. (They would all do that through the course of the day) The interview went on and on – she had lots to say. We had worried that the girls when faced with a camera would become intimidated and clam up. Not so with Lynn.
While all this is going on the other girls were sitting down stairs waiting. None of them had ever been interviewed before so we expected their interviews to be much shorter. None had ever told their stories to anyone other than the councilors who they know, love and trust. This was a HUGE step for them. Protective staff hovered about nervously – half wanting to encourage the girls to “go for it” and half wanting to protect them from such an intrusion. Waiting their turn was about as much fun as waiting in a dentist s office. I expected some of them to get cold feet and back out. We were ready for that and would encourage them no mater want they did.
We were amazed when they all, in turn, went up for their interviews and bowled us over with their strength, dignity and poise. We were stunned – the staff were stunned and minutes turned to hours. Conversations meandered through laughter and tears as precious hearts were opened to us. After each interview there was a smile of victory, another hurdle jumped, another step towards freedom. It quickly became apparent to all of us that, irrespective of what we got on tape this was a process of empowerment for them, a chance to confront fears and master their anxiety. Our prayers were being answered before our eyes this was not a day of traumatic memories and misery. No, this was a day of victory and for banishing old fears. And what a day it was.
Kids who, a short time ago, would run at the sight of a camera now calmly waited hours to slay another one of their giants. My admiration for them grew as the minutes passed. And when interview time came, I melted and gulped held my breath as I watched the faces of little ones I had learned to love years ago, step up to the plate. I watched them confront their fears and concour them. I watch them clime the podium of self esteem and claim victory. This, for me, was ‘the’ Olympic event. Years of work culminating in a huge grin, a thumbs up and a victory won. They always have been my heroes. They know that. I have told them that but today… today was a calibration of them and their bravery and their new lives.
When we finally finished the interviews the day was almost spent and we went to their home where we were treated to a wonderful supper together. We laughed, chatted, we felt comfortable and we prayed – there are no words for me to describe this. Once again heaven seemed to leech in through the window and door cracks. I am privileged indeed to, once again, witness God at work restoring the “unrestorable”.
Thanks for your prayers today – they were answered… in full!