Here is another article I wrote during my time working in Communications at Lifehope.
Read it on the website: http://news.om.org/country-article/r38059 or the text pasted below!
Thanks for your time!
City Hearts: Loving the broken-hearted
18 OCT, 2013 | UNITED KINGDOM
Their lives are not their own, sometimes by choice and sometimes because they have been sold by their families. They have been abused and devalued, treated as property, believing they only have one way to survive.
They are women who have been trafficked, and if they are rescued they must have somewhere to live and hide from their oppressors. They must learn they are valuable and that life can be more than what they have experienced, or they will most certainly return to their former lives.
City Hearts, an organisation in Sheffield, UK, provides three homes for trafficking survivors. OM teamed up with City Hearts this summer as part of Transform 2013. The participants spent most of their two-week outreach living in a house for trafficked women from Africa, Romania and the Czech Republic.
The Transform team included six ladies from four countries with the intent of making a difference in the lives of trafficked women. However, doing this proved to be more difficult than they imagined.
“From day one, it was a challenge,” Atonya, a leader of the outreach, admitted, while another participant said she learnt longsuffering. Nothing was going according to plan.
The problems the trafficked girls faced were enormous and heart-wrenching, yet they knew no other life. The compassionate hearts of the OM ladies desired to see the problems instantly alleviated.
“Your hands are tied,” Atonya said. “You choke up and bear it, but it’s OK. You let it be, and they can see your compassion.”
It also frustrated to the team to not be allowed to openly share God with the girls in the house, since it was linked with the government.
The OM ladies were still determined to share Christ’s love, and even though they had boundaries, Christ helped them succeed through actions and prayer.
“This outreach was a bit different,” Milla said. “We weren’t allowed to pray or talk about God where we worked. But actions have been speaking louder! The people we worked with were curious why we came for two weeks to volunteer, and then we were able to explain that we are Christians. All of us loved the people in the way we knew how.”
This is how they spent their days and nights at the house, simply being there to talk, play games, watch movies and most importantly, to purposefully show them the love of Christ whenever possible. This is incredibly meaningful to those who are not used to being shown such respect. They also helped in practical ways like mowing the grass, painting, cleaning the house and organising. Allowing the girls in the house to help with the work made them feel part of the success.
“I shared the gospel without words,” Kaisa said. “We were advised not to evangelise, instead spending time with the ladies, talking to them, and whenever possible, encouraging them with smiling words: ‘You are precious and beautiful.’”
One of the ladies spoke English, so Kaisa was able to encourage her and share about her faith when she asked what Kaisa is doing back home in Finland.
One of the trafficked girls confided in Atonya, and said, “Please pray for me,” which then opened the door for Atonya to do so.
No doubt the two weeks spent in Sheffield were more taxing on their bodies and hearts than they had anticipated. Changes were slow in coming and the issues were real and intense.
“You walk in thinking you can change the world,” Atonya said, “but then after spending time with them you gain a broader perspective. You see that God has to change the individual.”
All of the participants described it as difficult, saying they were sometimes stretched to the limit.
“God walked us through it,” Atonya said, “and God made Himself solely available. God sent me some awesome girls. My five girls were absolutely prepared to serve. Even if they had issues, they didn’t act like it. This was a blessing because they can’t take them into the trafficked house. They came in with love, and a smile and Jesus on their hearts.”
What was a rough time during outreach became a time in which God showed Himself to be present and faithful. The few weeks of mission were a representation of the reality of a life that is broken and difficult.
However God also represented His real character. They saw Him bring blessing in the midst of hardship. He opened doors for His love to be shared as they worked with City Hearts, and by His grace He will continue to change the city, heart by heart.