collaboration on behalf of dignity.

kathyescobar incarnational, injustice, the refuge 1 Comment

oasis logolast night our dear friends kevin & linsey potter from oasis usa hosted a screening of the documentary, a handful of dreams–the truth about begging, followed by questions & responses to the issue of human trafficking and how we can make a difference here, now.  the film centers on a coordinated raid in bangalore, india, where over 300 women & children were rescued from a beggar ring.  it’s about 20 minutes & well worth the watch.  oasisusa has a beautiful initiative called traffick free communities where faith communities & non-profits & government agencies & businesses all partner together on behalf of the vulnerable. it’s an inspiring model!

sometimes when we watch things like this, our hearts get stirred and we’re not quite sure what to do.  it feels far away.  it feels overwhelming. if we live in the suburbs, we can think “well, there’s no trafficking here.” there are all kinds of barriers to feeling like we can contribute something substantial to the cause.

i don’t wake up every day thinking about human trafficking, but i do wake up every day thinking about human dignity and making the invisible visible (i forgot about that old post from over 4 years ago, i like it, especially for today’s conversation).   issues of value & worth of people are core to most every injustice.  every slave is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s son.  every abused women, man, or child is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s son.  every person living on the streets is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s son.  when we start opening our eyes to vulnerable women & men & children, we can begin to see others through God’s eyes.

in talking to my friend kevin, one of the #1 needs in the whole issue of trafficking is community & healing once they are rescued.   this is related to healing from almost every injustice. we can help people leave abusive situations, find housing, begin to get sober, get the initial services that will help, but what is desperately needed is long-haul-with-ness-in-loving-and-supportive-community. this is why i am a nut-case for “the church” to actually be the hands & feet of Jesus not in bursts but over years & years & years.

also, one thing i have become more aware of in the past several years is that we desperately need collaboration among others who also care about the dignity & worth of human beings; we must gather together people who are dedicated to working on others’ behalf and are willing to partner for the greater good.  this is so hard to do, for all kinds of reasons. most ministries are subtly taught to be independent, not interdependent (these relational principles apply to organizations, too!). i feel it, too.

for the past year i have been going to a community meeting once a month with other social service agencies, nonprofits & faith communities who care for people. it’s been eye-opening, the sharing of resources & how we can partner in small or big ways together on behalf of others. but what i am reminded of is how much time & humility it takes!  like interpersonal relationships, we have to work at them.  we have to become clear on our own strengths and weaknesses and rely on others who are better at things than we are.  we have to lay down our personal agendas and pick up what is good for others.  we have to spend time learning from each other.  we have to be willing to both give help  & receive help, too.  we have to be patient and embrace a long view of change.

this video is a reminder of what can happen when a bunch of people who are about the same thing partner together on behalf of the marginalized, forgotten, vulnerable.  it’s pretty awesome.

also, we might not all be able to sit at a table with a bunch of other people and work on a project together, but what we can all do is begin to notice vulnerable women, men & children and ask ourselves “what is God stirring up in me about tangible ways to care? ”   

i’d love to know what it stirs up in you.

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ps: i also wanted to let you know that the down we go column i write for sheloves magazine is up today.  the theme for december is “with” and the post is called God with us.  God, with us in the midst of our messy, beautiful lives.  us, with others, in the midst of their messy, beautiful lives.  thanks for reading.