Thursday, September 22, 2011

Be a Whistleblower

The rusting police vehicle drove up to the dingy bar that lit up the night in an otherwise pitch-black wilderness of war torn Bosnia. Kathryn, a US police officer on a UN peacekeeping mission, got out of the vehicle with a few other trusted local Bosnian police officers, including her friend, Viko. The handful of officers lost no time in rushing into the bar, bringing out the owner and arresting him.

Kathryn made her way into the cave of filth, reeking of alcohol and smoke. She stared into the faces of several frightened young women, plastered in makeup and wearing clothes that barely covered their bodies.

“Hey, these girls, work here! They all have… documents, passports… and you, can **** off!” said another bar manager. Viko immediately started searching for the girls’ documents.

“Fakes!” said Viko, after finding their passports. The police then arrested the other bar owner.

Kathryn frantically looked at the girls. “Okay girls come on, you’re safe, just come. Let’s go, don’t be afraid, we can all go now! Raya, it’s going to be okay, come on Raya.” She looked into the eyes of one girl in particular, Raya, who was already rescued once, but due to violence and corruption, was retrafficked and brutally punished by her captors. Kathryn once promised to protect her.

Raya took a step forward, looking back at Kathryn with a slight smile that lasted for a moment then vanished from her face. She stopped abruptly. “Raya come on, let’s go, what’s the matter?” cried Kathryn.

Kathryn turned around, only to see half a dozen American police officers entering the bar, piercing the young women with their disgusting, threatening stares.

“What the **** are you doing here?!” she snapped at them.

“We got a call about this raid,” the man said matter-of-factly.

“Oh yeah? From who?” Kathryn quickly realized there’s been a tip-off.

The women in the bar looked into the eyes of the men that were supposed to protect them, but were instead some of their regular customers. With the threatening stares of these American police officers, Raya knew going with Kathryn meant torture and possible death. She already experienced it once when she was retrafficked.

“Get out! Get out, get out, get out!” Kathryn screamed at the American men.

A fierce struggle ensued as Kathryn plead with the women to go with her, while she cursed and attacked the corrupt force behind her.

“Don’t look at these guys, don’t be afraid of these guys! Just say you want to go and I can walk you out of here! Raya look at me. You are safe… please, just say yes!” she desperately cried.

Raya finally looked at her with pleading eyes, then looked at the men standing behind Kathryn. “No,” she said and ran out of the room crying.

It was more than Kathryn could bear, as she started to attack the despicable men behind her. “What is wrong with you?! We’re supposed to protect these people!”

Viko finally grabbed her, “Look at me! Kathy! We cannot force them. Nothing will hold up in court. Please understand… they will be brought down here and punished. You want blood on your hands?”

Kathryn walked out of the bar in utter defeat, knowing full well these women had no choice. Stay in the bar and endure the abuse and rape, or try to leave and face the severe consequences of torture or death by the men in power. Kathryn was a woman with good intentions, but the enslaved women knew the corrupt force of men behind her would crush them.  


This scene is from a recently released movie based on a true story, entitled “The Whistleblower.” (Watch trailer here: Since watching the film, this scene is engrained into my mind, replaying over and over. It depicts the reality of so many situations around the world: enslaved people, a rule of law with good intentions, yet a corrupt people who will not enforce it and instead prey on the weak.

I cannot get the face of that American police officer out of my mind… his disgusting, selfish eyes and lustful, threatening stare. There is a whole force of people just like Kathryn, around the world, who have jobs, because of men (and women) like this… men who were designed to protect the vulnerable; to rise up as warriors and fight for the innocent and weak.

Do we hear of raids on bars where dozens of trafficked girls are sold for sex here in the US? Not often. Does it exist? Absolutely. In fact, the true story this movie portrays proves that corruption, lust and abuse filter all the way to the top of the power chain.

But even more so, I think this scene is metaphorical of a direction our western culture is headed. We are not the first culture in history to continue down the destructive path of worshipping the goddess of sex. And the devastating consequences subtly creep up like a lion stalking its prey. It infiltrates every part of society, from our families, to our churches to our workplaces.

The goddess of sex is broadcast into our homes every day. It’s displayed on magazine covers in the grocery store. It rears its ugly head in the questionable conversation you just had with a coworker. It sneaks its way in with a sweet, seductive stare from a young woman you see in church. It sticks its foot in the door when you decide to think about your needs more than your sister in Christ. It gains a small victory when you don’t make an effort to guard your brothers heart. It wins when it has emasculated an entire generation of men who have forsaken their true calling of being protectors and providers. It wins when it has convinced an entire generation of women that they are an object to be played with and they need to manipulate to be loved.

It’s so subtle that it becomes normal. And we proceed to tolerate it, almost unknowingly.   

Is this being written in anger? Maybe. It’s incredibly easy as a woman, to go into an angry, bitter rant against men. But that would be letting the enemy win. No, my fierce anger is towards our despicable enemy and his cohorts. He hates us, men and women, children of God. But we will not entertain or tolerate him.


I suppose these thoughts come because in two weeks, I will get to help pour life into a group of women and children who have faced abuses I cannot imagine; and assist a team in documenting their stories of hope. Through that, I know God will bring healing not only in their lives, but also in my life. I’m so excited for this month-long endeavor, the journey ahead, and the team of justice warriors I get to work with, serve, and glean incredible wisdom from!

(Updates to come.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Girls of Manila

Update on an upcoming team project I'm working on!

Taxis and tricee cabs sped by us as we walked down a busy street in the heart of Manila late one night searching for a place to eat after a long day. It was my third month of living in the Philippines with Naomi Hamilton, a missionary nurse and midwife. I came straight out of college and it was my first experience of living overseas long-term.

This particular week held great challenges. One of Naomi’s dearest friends just lost her mother to cancer. She was known as “mama” to many people who knew her, and though I had only known her for a few months, I saw the incredible amount of wisdom and joy she imparted to those around her. Naomi stood by this precious family as they watched “mama” fight a long, hard battle against cancer and then go to be with her Heavenly Father.

I learned that Filipino customs are unlike the traditional funerals we know here in the United States. There is a week-long wake, the grieving family is expected to cater to and feed all the friends and relatives, someone is expected to stay with the body at all times, not to mention many other superstitious customs.

As we walked down the busy street this particular night, my western mind tried to process these experiences. In the weeks before that, I walked through one of the largest slums in Asia. I sat in the 10x10 shack that a family of eight lived in. I witnessed the chilling injustice of corruption and the often deadly effects it has on the vulnerable. It seemed that every day, Naomi dealt with situations that we can’t even fathom in the United States. And there I was, trying to process these foreign customs, superstitions and sometimes spiritual bondages. It was overwhelming.

Naomi among friends in Welfareville, one of the largest slums in Asia.

In the midst of our conversation that night, I finally asked in tired frustration, “Naomi, how do you do this everyday? This is almost impossible work!” She looked back at me and spoke two words with a peace that I saw rise up from her soul, “God’s grace.”

Those words were so simple, but they penetrated my entire being. I always knew about God’s grace, but it wasn’t until this moment that it became real to me. “God’s grace is sufficient.” Grace that I often took for granted. Sadly, it’s not until we face insurmountable circumstances that we realize how much we need God’s grace.  

This particular night that held this profound lesson happened five years ago. Those six months spent in Manila provided more opportunities to rely on God’s grace than I ever imagined. Learning from Naomi’s example set a foundation in my life for future missions opportunities that I’m living out today.  I realized that heroes are not those with incredible gifts, talents and courage. Heroes are those who rely on the grace and blood of Jesus and allow Him to use their offering of “rags” and turn it into his riches and glory.

Just before I left Manila, Naomi opened a shelter for women called “Safe Refuge.” Over the past five years, I’ve been able to return to Manila several times and witness the amazing lives changed through this ministry. The need is great, and we have an opportunity to work on an upcoming project that will help expand this ministry!

The second home birth I witnessed in Manila in 2008 of a Safe Refuge 
resident who gave her precious baby up for adoption.

The Girls of Manila
Stories move people to action. We hear unfathomable statistics everyday, but they often get stored in the archives of our minds, quickly to be forgotten; however, a story pierces our hearts. A story makes injustice very real to us and motivates us to do something about it. Stories communicate truths and realities in a way nothing else can. Jesus used stories as a very strategic method of speaking to his people.

What better way to show the atrocities of injustice, as well as the miraculous redemption of the young women and children in Manila than by storytelling? Myself, along with a few others are teaming up to do just this. We will be traveling to Manila for a month to film a documentary of the work and ministry of Naomi and Safe Refuge. We will document how a humble vision has turned into a work of God that is literally rescuing lives every day, physically and spiritually. 

Our hope is that this film will not only provoke people’s hearts to get involved in this work, but that it will expose, convict and change our American culture filled with apathy, sexual promiscuity and pride.

Needless to say, we need your help. If you would like to contribute financially to this endeavor, please contact me directly at Any contribution, no matter how small, is greatly needed and very much appreciated (all are tax deductable). Also, please pray and intercede for us. This is a huge project being taken on in a very short amount of time, in a culture that does not work as efficiently as what we are used to. We will face hurdles and setbacks. But pray for God’s protection, favor and divine grace through it all. We know that God will work in our lives as well, as we are documenting the lives He has redeemed in Manila.