If I tried to place my finger on the right word, it might land somewhere between you and me, seated in the back of a friend’s car, stopped in Michigan’s darkest city, paused in prayer for the light to come. It reminds me I never quite grasp God’s glory – that I never quite have big enough expectations. Allow me to explain.
A sex trafficking outreach at my church has branched out from its suburban hotel outreach in Novi, Michigan to cross with international interests. The North American International Auto Show draws nearly one million people to Detroit, and human trafficking is escalated in the city of Detroit during these two weeks. Minors makeup a large demographic of individuals that are sexually exploited, and information on them is sought by both police detectives and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
I wake up once a month to take pictures of missing kids to local hotels. In the hopes that one child might be seen or found, our team has been dedicated to the search for missing kids and to the hotel staff we educate on sex trafficking. On January 15, our team took the latest pictures and our educational packets into the hive of the Michigan sex trade, and every hotel and motel in Detroit was given a chance to peek into that hive. As I predicted, my expectations were too small for God’s glory.
I often find that prayer is a companion we see as small but mighty, as the mustard seed can move mountains. I regret that I have never seen a mustard seed literally move a mountain, as it would be a wonder of the natural world. However, I have seen such a wonder through the power of prayer. Our team spent months in prayer for God’s protection, His direction, and His motivation to put our hands and feet to work. Then, the outreach came. Prayer was essential. A visiting prayer-walking team and members of our team joined together in their cars and prayed as we traveled through the city. Have I yet stated that God will conquer our expectations and prove them to be inconsequential? Here is what my eyes beheld.
I never expected that I would be calling the Toledo Police on a tip. I never expected that a woman at a motel would listen to us. I never expected that God would put me in a motel in Detroit, have me stand face-to-face with her honest eyes, have me equipped with 12 photos, and have one of those photos spark a memory in her mind. The staff member remembered seeing one of the girls on our posters; she had recently come to the hotel for a room. A missing girl from Toledo made it onto our posters for the outreach, and we happened to visit the motel where she would be recognized.
Prayer, an open conversation with God, is more potent than I can comprehend. It took one million international visitors, all the hotels and motels of Detroit, five carloads of willing servants, and one motel employee to hear the whisper in my ear. I never anticipated the opportunity to pass on information concerning a child’s case. Prayer enabled our outreach serve one lost sheep, and I heard the word – God is faithful.
I work for the freedom of others because I know what it is to be free. FRē exists because police officers, detectives, missing children, and loved ones need citizens to be activists, too. If a whole society turns a blind eye to the oppressed, failing to advocate for the rights of the exploited, how can justice ever be served? Hotels are the cultured world’s brothels. While we freshen up, go for a dip in the pool, and sleep under pressed sheets on vacations and business trips, there are children in hotels being used for commercial sex. Since MKL Jr. Day was Monday, I think his quote is rather timely, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” I cannot stand in comfort, even though it is convenient. I cannot stand on the outside while a child’s rights are being stolen and a society isn’t facing the challenge and controversy before its eyes. Consider joining one outreach with FRē on a Saturday morning, considering asking me for more information on other groups, or consider if your life is too comfortable and it’s time for change.
Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” If you’re considering doing any of those things, I implore you: do them. Did you ever wake up as a kid and decide that your dreams weren’t worth dreaming? Did you ever wake up as an adult and say, “I never want to make a difference in the world.”?? No, I didn’t think so. So, consider what role you want in saying, “I have a dream.” I have a dream today!
“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” -MLK Jr.