Human Slavery, how do we end it? Here’s how…

Slavery. How do we end it?

This question jumbled in my mind as I drove my red Zip car over the bridge to attend the Bay Area Freedom Summit, where I was an exhibitor for my art ministry Gifts of His Glory and She is Safe.  It was my first summit on human trafficking and I was not sure of what to expect.  I hoped to sell some art, as I give 50% of each sale to She Is Safe, to rescue orphans in China who have lost their parents from AIDS and are in danger of being trafficked and sold in child marriage. I also hoped to have some divine appointments. (meetings arranged by the Lord’s hand).

my booth

As I set up my booth, other friendly exhibitors came and introduced themselves.  I was surprised and happy to see that many safe houses for victims of human trafficking were being established in the Bay Area, such as Freedom House, and in other parts of the state.

The Expo soon opened and people came up to my booth interested in the art and large banner of a chubby-cheeked Chinese girl advertising the China Aids Orphans project. I shared with those stopping by how I had come to be an advocate by reading the book Forgotten Girls by President of She Is Safe, Michele Rickett and my author friend Kay Marshall Strom.  The book shares the stories of girls and women around the world who are rebuilding their lives after abuse and exploitation.

Book Forgotten Girls

The book has sections on steps you can take to stop exploitation, one being to dedicate your craft to benefit an organization involved in stopping trafficking.  After reading the horrors of what happens to these girls and women especially in sexual slavery, I prayed and felt the Lord’s direction to dedicate my art to this cause.  Another suggestion from the book was to hold a booth at a conference such as the Freedom Summit, and here I was now doing that very thing!

Soon it was time for the general conference. I was struck by the stories how ordinary people became heroes as they took steps of faith to start organizations to help stop trafficking.  I listened with compassion to women who shared their survivor stories of how they had been miraculously rescued from sexual slavery and how God was using their witness to help save others.  I gasped in horror as I heard how little seven year old girls in India are strapped to a table and gang raped until they die.  I cheered as the Department of Defense is now making it a punishable offense for any US soldier to frequent a prostitute or sexual slave.

The Scripture verse for the conference was from Psalm 10:8-9 depicting slavery:

He lies in wait near the villages;
    from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
     like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
    he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net  His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.

The theme of the conference was what you can do in 10 minutes,10 days and 10 months to stop trafficking. You might now be asking, Miriam, what can I do in these time frames?  Well, here’s what you CAN do…

10 minutes:

Put the national hotline for human trafficking on you cell phone 1-888-3737-888 right now as you read this blog!  You can report any tip of suspicious activity or pass the hotline number along to someone you suspect might be a slave and help them get rescued.  Who could be a slave?  A nanny or domestic in your neighborhood, a restaurant worker at your favorite restaurant, that young girl visiting truckers at a truck stop, a carnival worker, or the women standing on a street corner as you drive by. They are all over. Over 3000 people trapped in slavery have called this hotline to ask for help alone. You can also call to connect with anti-trafficking services in your area or to request resources or training.

Purchase the book Forgotten Girls at SheIsSafe.org and while there sign up to their blog to stay informed on the global cause of human trafficking.

10 days:

Purchase a biblical Scripture painting from my website giftsofhisglory.com.

Forget Me Not Tulips Philippians 4:13 Scripture painting www.giftsofhisglory.com

(or by clicking on ‘my art’ above). 50% of each sale goes to the China AIDS orphan project. Bless yourself or gift others in your life with an original piece of art embossed with Scripture.  It’s easy and safe to shop online and I ship worldwide!

Join a She Is Safe advocacy group to participate in fundraising and prayer to rescue and restore girls and women in the hardest places like China and India.  Contact info@SheIsSafe.org to find one  in your local area.  If you live in the Bay Area, I am hosting one in my home in San Carlos on a monthly basis where we will also be studying the books Forgotten Girls and Daughters of Hope.  Contact me at miraim@giftsofhisglory.com.

Purchase and consume only Fair Trade Products that are made with no enslaved labor.  To my dismay I discovered chocolate was.  And coffee.  And clothing.  Find ratings on products and brands you buy at free2work.org.  Discover how many slaves work for you and what you can do about it at slaveryfootprint.org.

10 Months:

Visit or Invite The SOLD Project, an interactive exhibit on human trafficking run by the International Justice Mission, to your church, organization or event. This exhibit was held at the Freedom Summit and had a powerful, heart breaking effect on me as I spent 40 minutes walking through each room and listening by audio to the testimonies of slaves around the globe, particularly children. I recommend this for every person and parent to see. It is currently traveling around the country. Visit www.thesoldproject.com

Free one girl and help her to build a new life at $365 through SheIsSafe.org.

Attend a conference in your area on human trafficking and become educated. Get involved in one project in one part of the world.  Just start somewhere.

 

Once back in my booth, I was blessed to do my first radio interview with KLOVE, the local Christian radio station.  What fun I had sharing my story and getting a plug in for my prepublished bookas well!  A videographer approached my booth and filmed me for a documentary on how high school and college students could use their gifts and talents to help stop trafficking. WOW! My art work was admired, many people took my business card and I sold some paintings, all in all, an educational yet saddening experience.

What the Lord most impressed on my heart during this conference was that I, too, was a survivor of sexual abuse and while I didn’t have a voice back then as a child, I now was able to be a voice for those trapped in sexual slavery today.  A voice for the voiceless. What a gift.  I have come full circle in my healing.

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.

Psalm 10:12-14

If you are a victim of any kind of slavery, please leave me a confidential reply and I will help you find freedom.

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Happy Birthday to Me!..My Birthday Adventure

Vineyards

January 3 is my birthday.  52 years ago (dare I say my age?!) I came bouncing into this world with bright red hair and blue eyes with an Irish twinkle in them.  I was born into a large Italian Catholic family and my three sisters and I spent all our holidays up in the wine country in Northern California, visiting my cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents. The towns were  sleepy vintner towns, before the yuppies came and turned them into art, wine and mud bath havens for wealthy tourists.

On my birthday, I decided to have an adventure.  I drove up to my family’s home town in my bright red Zip car, for a fun day of celebration.  My plan was to bike around town and visit all the old sites.  My grandparents house, their graves and do a little wine tasting.  It had been 7 years since I had been back or seen any of my family members who resided there.

This town has a town square complete with gazebo and park benches, to sit and soak up the sun in. Around the square I was surprised to see art galleries and wine tasting rooms in number. I set out in the surprisingly freezing cold morning on my bike to begin my adventure.

I biked to my grandparents’ house across from the high school and stopped.  There was the orange tree I used to climb in front of the old house on the corner, where home movies show me toddling with my Easter basket to pick up Easter eggs.  I walked around the corner to the lot where my Papa had his garden.  It was completely gone and I felt sad. I used to love to hear Nana say “Go out and pick me some fresh green beans for dinner.”  She made the most delicious vegetable soup which we would eat with warm bread fresh from the bakery.

Memories flooding my mind, I biked the short distance to the cemetery behind the sports field.  Nana and Papa died within six months of each other, she at 90 years and he at 95.  I had only been to the cemetery once since they had passed and I was anxious to find the plot.  I pushed my bike through the crumbling gravestones, looking for the family name. I walked up and down trying to vex my memory as to where the plot was located.  I prayed, Holy Spirit, please help me find the graves.

As I was about to give up, I saw a plot in the corner by the fence.  Yes, I remembered this from the funeral.  And there it was.  Catherine and James, devoted wife and husband.  Someone had put a Christmas wreath on the grave and I added my remembrance stones, as was typical to put on a Jewish person’s grave.  My Jewish heritage comes from my father’s side, and Nana was my Jewish Italian grandmother, though it was never discussed openly.

I was completely surprised what happened next. As I was telling my grandmother how much I missed her, I  broke into tears.  I began to sob how I wished I could talk to her about how the family relationships had all fractured since I shared the abuse I survived as a child.  How she would be the one person who would have told me the truth about what happened and confirmed my memories for me, which had been repressed for many years.

I know it would have broken her heart to hear what had happened to me. I could have cried on her shoulder over the horrible pain and devastation I experienced from the sexual trauma that happened to me as a child, a secret I had been forced to keep quiet all my life to prevent family shame.

Nana was the one person who instilled in me her strong faith in Jesus and prayed for me constantly.  She passed the faith torch to me, and I was the first person in my family to become born again and receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  She struggled with my decision to leave the Catholic Church and join an evangelical one.  But she never stopped loving me, or praying for me. How I missed her phone calls always telling me I love you.

After awhile, my crying subsided. I prayed one last prayer, asking her to help heal our family from Heaven.  I then said goodbye to my grandparents and biked away toward the town square.  I visited three or four art galleries, talking with the local artists and enjoying their art.  I love to view art with an artist’s eye and I was not disappointed.  Beautiful landscapes of grape vines in fall colors exploded on canvases as I walked by each painting.

Bread pudding

Feeling hungry, I stopped at a seafood tapas restaurant and had barbecued bacon wrapped scallops, followed by the most divine bread pudding, for my birthday dessert.  I love trying bread puddings wherever I go and this one definitely pleased.  Croissants soaked in creme brulee sauce with a layer of bananas and melted chocolate on top.  Yum!

After lunch, I walked around the corner and tried one of the local wineries’ tasting room, that had food pairings with each glass of wine.  I was the only one present and a very knowledgeable and friendly host welcomed me.  Liking only white wine, he began to serve me six different tastings, each with its own cheese sample.

Oh, the smooth taste of a light white wine, coupled with cheese topped with sea salt and truffles.  My taste buds exploded all over the place!  I had to laugh as I saw Jesus in my mind’s eye next to me enjoying his own glass of wine, experiencing both the joy and sadness on my special day.

By now, the sun had come out and the town had come to life, as others joined me in the tasting room.  I strolled back to my Zip car, with a smile on my face and contentment in my heart.  It had been a day of memories and closure, a town I no longer had to avoid because of my pain, as my heart was now whole again.

Jesus had come during a New Year Eve’s church service a few days earlier and healed my shame and heart over my abuse.  I didn’t think it was possible to put together my shattered heart but He did it!  I was now able to receive the love of God as my Heavenly Father, an image that had been distorted by my own father’s actions.

Every year on my birthday, I ask the Lord for a special Scripture to commemorate my day, and for the year ahead.  This year he gave me Psalm 45:13-15.

All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. With many colored robes she is led to the King, with her virgin companions following behind her. With joy and gladness they are led along, as they enter the palace of the King.

Yes, I now felt like a special princess for the first time in my life. I had discarded the dirty robes of shame for a robe interwoven with gold.  Joy and gladness did indeed fill my heart as He blessed me with His love on my birthday.

Do you need healing from sexual abuse in your life? Confidentially reply to me at miriam@giftsofhisglory.com and I will share resources and help for you to find healing in your life.

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