Monday, March 2, 2015

The Weeping Room

For the Lotz's, this weekend's featured events in our area included the World Missions Conference at our church, which we enjoyed, and the great return of snow and ice that we could have lived without. I'll spare you my ranting about winter (Let it END, already!), and instead focus my energy on the World Missions Conference.

Honestly, I am going to focus on a very small portion of the WMC, the "symposium" of sorts on sex trafficking. I do not wish to downplay the AMAZING and selfless things the missionaries from our church are doing around the world (and in our own area, for that matter), but the sex trafficking information hit hard, probably because it hits in our hometown and we don't even realize it. (Oh, you thought sex trafficking was just "over there?" It's here, too.)

I cannot unpack everything that was said at the gatherings. Everything that was said was important, yes, but I'll hit just a few of the high notes for now and possibly return with more details at a later date.

You need to know that 2,200 children are reported missing each day in America. 2,200 EACH DAY. In AMERICA. (Not Europe, or Asia, or Africa...just America). 2,200 includes only the number of children that are reported missing, not the ones who go missing unnoticed (sad truth) or unnoted.

Of those 2,200 reported missing children, ONE THIRD of them will be approached by a sex trafficker within 48 hours. 48 hours...TWO DAYS. That's all it takes, and if that child has even one ounce of low self-esteem, you'd better believe the sex trafficker will notice and take full advantage. They are very good at what they do, and what they do is manipulate vulnerable people.

Prevention is key here, and part of prevention is strong families, particularly warm, loving, and involved fathers. Strong communities and mentors also play huge roles in this fight,

This tragic phenomenon presents the church with an opportunity to get involved and to partner with government agencies, healthcare systems, hospitality industries, the FBI, and the judicial system to create sustainable methods for prevention and solutions to this widespread problem. In partnering with such organizations, we (the Church) have the opportunity to gain the trust of our government, police officers, and judicial systems while also opening ourselves to worlds of hurt, vastly different populations, and individuals who, like ourselves, need to be loved in a safe community.

(I could spend a day unpacking that last paragraph, but I don't think it matters as much as the next one. As a side note, the founder of FREE International, Michael Bartel, was an absolutely profound speaker who is passionate about this cause and has garnered the trust of our national security and judicial systems to fight this problem on multiple levels. Every word that came out of his mouth was seasoned with biblical Truth, and it was overwhelmingly clear that he is doing that Lord's work because of the Lord's work in him. Please take a look at FREE International's website  to learn more.)

Like many other people who heard the stats and stories last night, I feel like I should get involved imeediately. I feel like I should do something, save someone, kick down a brothel door, walk the streets as a rescue worker. But I wouldn't have a clue what I was doing and, most importantly, I wouldn't have spent any time in absolute HEARTBREAK over the problem, which is absolutely important in these situations where heartbreak "on the front lines" could thwart my initial zeal.

You see, it's easy to jump into a new mission of salvation or rescue, but it's harder to stick with it when reality comes pouncing in to shove our assumed failures into our faces, steal rescued girls back to their "normal" way of loving, and push one more man into the pit of pornography. If we are not prepared, if we haven't felt the absolute crushing blow of heartbreak for one person's devastating situation, too many hard moments threaten to tear us away from our mission. Too many girls choose to return to their exploited lives, and we won't understand it. Too many months go by on an adoption we thought would be a breeze compared to our last one, and our hearts grow weary. Too many orphans die without clean water. Too many foster children grow up to create more foster children, despite the best efforts of people willing to try to help.

It's easy to jump into a new cause, but it's hard to stick to it. That's because, as one presenter--Shauna Storey, of NightLight International--put it, we must first spend some time in the Weeping Room.

During a particularly trying season of Shauna's life when she was learning about the plight of sexually exploited women, she spent a lot of time crying and processing what she was learning. In processing her thoughts and the devastating information she was reading, her friend told her an important and life-altering story.

Her friend had a dream. In her dream, there was a house, and the house represented God's relationship with his people. She entered the house, and the first room was a very luxuriously designed, comfortable space called the Intimacy Room. People lounged in the chairs and felt close to Jesus as they sat comfortably in the luxuries He provided to them.

From that room, she could look around and see a few other rooms: a Study where people were studying Scripture, a kitchen where people were eating daily bread, etc. Then she saw a closed door.

"What's that door?" she asked Jesus, who was showing her around.

"Oh, that's the door to the room where I spend most of my time," said Jesus.

"Well if you spend your time there, then I want to be there, too," she said.

"I don't know if you want to join me in there," He said. "Not many people do."

"No, I do," she persisted. "Please take me there."

So He did. He opened the door, which led to a long hallway. As they walked the hallway, she realized it was much longer than it had originally appeared, and the path got smaller, until eventually they were crawling on their hands and knees to get through. When they reached the end of the hallway, they entered a small room featuring only one chair that faced a large window.

"What is this room?" she asked.

"This is the Weeping Room. That window allows me to see the suffering of the entire world, and this is where I spend almost all of my time, weeping over the suffering of the world."

"Oh," she said with dismay while looking around again. She saw another closed door. "What's that door lead to?"

"That's the Strategy Room. It's where people go to search out solutions for the suffering of the world."

"Well," she said with more enthusiasm, "then I'd like to go there."

He replied, "You can only go there after you've spent some time in the Weeping Room."

And I believe that's truly how it is. We don't understand what the suffering will be like until we walk and weep through it a bit. And only then can we see that one vulnerable girl or one orphaned child is worth the trouble, pain, and setbacks we would face to rescue her. No one really wants to spend time in the Weeping Room, but if that's where Jesus is maybe we need to be there, too.

What about you? Who or what are you weeping for?