I like it immediately. Churches that don't look like churches. Maybe because I don't look like what a stereotypical church-goer is thought to look like? Formal is out of my comfort zone.
Across the street are more metal buildings, maybe apartments? Like houses cut in half their roofs are slanting triangles jutting against the evening sky.
We park, go into the cool air conditioning and out of the Houston humidity. We walk upstairs and sign in on iPads. Grab some snacks, a water bottle, and settle in the back row for an easy exit should the four month old need attention.
We are here to watch Nefarious, a documentary about human trafficking. And mostly, hopefully, to learn ways to become involved in bringing it to an end.
I hold Haylee closer, snug against my womb. Since I was 8 months pregnant with her God has been ever-burdening my heart for those trapped in cages. Those used and abused and utterly violated. For those who are bent on destroying the beauty of what sex is meant to be. For those women and girls and boys whom the devil is so intent to steal from, kill, and destroy.
I had no idea how hard it would be to watch while holding my daughter.
The documentary first focused on all these children from Moldova. Children entirely disregarded by their parents.
They abandoned them for work.
Their parents just left them to figure out on their own how to get their needs met.
Many of the children, not knowing what else to do, went to orphanages. Their parents were living... but they were forced to live as orphans.
The directors of the orphanages then sold them to those who wanted to exploit their vulnerability. No one would notice... except the other kids who were equally alone and unprotected.
The stories continued and I don't think anyone was freely breathing... this tightness settling in around the throat and heads shaking down tears of disbelief.
It wraps up and a young man with the staff of Exodus Cry begins to expound on the importance of our involvement. I stand and softly exit as Haylee squirms her warning of the hunger-cries soon coming.
I comfort the baby and sway and pray and just try to breathe through the images and information pounding in my brain.
You don't have to convince me, I am IN, I just don't know what to do...
I have all this passion to help and I am not afraid and I want to be as bold as a lion but I hear, as I have so often before, it is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.
He speaks gently, cooling the flush in my face. When you don't know what I want you to do, don't forget to tend to what you KNOW I want you to do.
He brings my thoughts to the beginning. All those children abandoned and left vulnerable. For work.
My eyes drop to the clear blue of hers, my sweet baby so satisfied in my arms. She grins toothless joy clear into my muddled heart.
"I am called to raise you..." I smile into that precious soul. I say it out loud to myself, to her, to acknowledge that I heard Him. "You are a big part of whatever my life-long ministry is... to help you understand that God loves you. You, and your sisters."
Called to be a shelter for their vulnerable, emotional hearts. A safe place, and encouraging someone for them to learn with, to dream and grow, and ask, and seek, and stumble and be held and loved anyway. Called to be a voice that speaks His heart for them in sound waves they can hear.
I am called to not abandon them for work. Any kind.
I am called to not leave them alone to figure out how to get their needs met.
I am called to not leave them to the mercy of those who seek to exploit their vulnerability.
I am called to notice... not leave that only to other kids who are equally alone, and lonely, and unprotected.
I am called to not leave them as emotional, spiritual, soul orphans.
They have a heritage. They have family. They have a loving Father.
As long as I am living... I have the privilege, the responsibility, the joy to lead them to the only One they will ever and always be completely and wholly safe with.
And if I leave them exposed while I go do other work... even good work... who will do what I am called to? No one else is their Mother.
I smooth down her baby fine hair, lay her head against my shoulder and pat and bounce to work it all to the surface.
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much..."
She is comforted. I am too. I pray it sincerely "Lord, I will do whatever You want me to. I will do it whenever You lead me to do it. Help me to be faithful and trustworthy now with what I know You've given me to do..."