Tonight I sit and debate whether I should let the tears fall, or swallow them.
Red Light Rebellion has been in health classes all week presenting to students on the dangers of trafficking. It is always an exhausting experience. Props to teachers who wake up that early, repeat the same thing 4-6 times a day, handle the various attitudes and situations each students walks in with, and somehow doesn’t fall asleep on the drive home! Weeks like these, I find it all nearly impossible myself.
At some point in the week my frustration usually starts to increase rapidly. Some students walk in, and I can tell they hurt deeply. No behavior, clothing, or attitude indicates it. Their eyes tell all. My frustration comes from not being able to help them. Maybe if we could just be friends they would open up and I could help them navigate all the things their young hearts do not know how to cope with. Because that is where prevention starts. One student said it perfectly today:
It’s amazing to me how much of this comes from un-addressed issues.
Tonight I decided to veg out on social media. Within minutes I saw a post from one of my mentors. It was a link to a video, with a caption indicating sympathy to a student’s family and thanks to those who work with students. I opened the link and saved it for later, having a feeling I knew what it was about already.
Then I checked my notifications. I was tagged in a comment. It belonged to a shared picture of a girl who just went missing this week… from the school we are giving presentations at. I researched the source, profile investigated the missing girl, sent her a friend request, and shared the post. After that I watched the video of the other student.
A picture montage. My suspicions were not yet confirmed, but I wanted to cry watching the 2 minute video of a kid who is no longer with us. The student was obviously an amazing athlete, passionate about running, and breaking records. Just the pictures proved his smile contagious. He seemed respectable and fun-loving, a friend to many.
We always pick the best pictures for those kind of things, and my cynical side usually comes out wondering how accurate they are to the whole person. But this kid reminded me of my friends from high school: the high-achieving, sport-loving, and caring friend. Now all my friends had issues, some life-threatening, but every year they overcame them again and again.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that we have been with students all week, or that he reminded me of someone I would have known, but it was hard to hold the tears back as I felt more positive about my suspicion. His name had not been released yet, but I heard his story yesterday from a different post on FB. A well known high school lost a student to suicide that morning. It happened on campus, and I cannot imagine being the officer who was unable to talk him out of it.
Once the video ended, I scrolled to the first comment posted, and my suspicions were confirmed. It was the same kid.
It never ends, and it will never end. People will always face more than they can handle. We talk about this generation facing obstacles never before seen in history. While I was saying that to a student today, my opinion changed. Because I thought of all the people around the world who are facing depression, abusive households, war-torn countries, terrorists, poverty, fatal illness, cultural depravity, unjust legal systems, self-hatred, addiction, rape, murder… People everywhere are facing depravity, the same kind that humanity has faced throughout all of human history.
And it never stops.
It was New Years day 2012. I was sitting across from my mentor, eating breakfast, and I’m sure sipping coffee (but that detail is hard to remember). We talked for about 3 hours that morning. One part of the conversation has forever changed my worldview.
I was going on a rant about my belief in my generation of young people. There was a burning in my soul that, as a generation, God was destining us to great things. We were going to become shakers of the world and movers of mountains for justice. Our parents’ and grandparents’ generation didn’t get it like we were getting it. We were rejecting the “American way” of doing things, tired of the consumerism and propaganda, bent on creating change and making necessary sacrifices for others.
Pat listened, like he always does. I love talking with him because we listen, but we also challenge each other’s viewpoints. I could tell you about a handful of conversations where Pat literally said one sentence that completely change how I think and the way I live. Little did I know, that the subject I was most passionate about, Pat was going to turn on its head. It has since solidified my devotion to Christ more than almost any other experience.
It is interesting you say that, because other generations had this same passion. The movement in the 60’s was a generation dedicated to advocating for peoples’ rights. That same generation is now some of the most materialistic and consuming generation!
The same problems will always be around, and if the generation advocating is not grounded in the Word of God, they will get tired of fighting the same battle their whole lives.
Bad things will always happen and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Kind of depressing isn’t it? And then I think about my friends, Scott and Shannon. They live in the barrios of Rocky Point, Mexico. Barrios meaning ghetto. It’s basically a dump with neighborhoods built on top, most structures made from scraps found in the trash.
I love Scott and Shannon. Their faith was beautiful before they started i6eight, but how it has grown and been refined over the last couple years! What a blessing it has been to witness!
Brandon and I were at their house sometime last year, I believe it was for a trip we took to give awareness presentations about sex trafficking to the community. We were sitting in their living room watching the newest video they had made for the ministry. They show a quote by Watchman Nee, a Chinese missionary. He basically says that the answer to everything in life is Jesus.
Which is what Pat said.
Kids will always run away. Someone will always seek escape with suicide. There will always be poverty. And there will always be people fight for and giving up on the cause, with no end to the cycle in sight.
The anti-trafficking meetings I go to every week are becoming more infuriating and depressing. Everyone has ideas on how to make things better, but we’ve done this all before for countless other causes, and guess what? They are still around. Just as prevalent as ever. Every meeting my heart sinks and I am left with only this:
What hope do we have but Jesus?
The answer: none.
Now sitting here, thinking of these two students, my only hope is Jesus and His Gospel. His Love changes lives, His power is unfathomable, and His grace never-ending. Left on our own we destroy ourselves. If self-help was possible we would have already fixed ourselves. But we haven’t, and we can’t. The same injustice and decadence that ravishes our country and world today are the same as they were millenniums ago.
All of that injustice, decadence, debauchery, immorality, all of the sin and pain associated with depression, abusive households, war-torn countries, terrorism, poverty, fatal illness, cultural depravity, corruption, self-hatred, addiction, rape, and, murder Jesus became and atoned for! He esteemed us higher than himself, for he became the currency to buy us back from sin’s ownership over our souls. Redemption. And because redemption was paid to buy us out of the slavery to sin, we are now slaves to Christ under the rule of grace.
The thing with grace though, is that its standards are far weightier than the law. For grace demands our motives pure, not just our actions. As noted, we are incapable of creating this change in ourselves. There must be a force greater than us creating something completely new within us for us to abide by these new standards. Luckily, grace is not only the standard, but the force of empowerment upon us to make that possible.
This is the only hope we have in the midst of such depravity and darkness. And grace only comes through Christ.
So in the midst of children taking their own life or disappearing, Jesus is still the answer, because He is the answer to everything.
God makes it quite clear in his word that he has one answer to every human need: his son, Jesus Christ.