By: Cheyenne Hess, Intern at North Star Initiative
People matter. You may have heard this time and time again, but I am just now personally learning the true weight of this myself.
Every individual has hardships, whatever they may be. New issues arise within new seasons of life, even in the mundane day to day.
Each of these issues stem from a choice. Choices are one thing that all humans face, regardless of race, class, status, religion, etc. Every choice has consequences, good and bad, and every choice affects people either directly or indirectly. This is why we regard the most important life decisions carefully, with much thought and processing, because the choice that is made will affect someone else along the way.
The difficult thing about choices is that often when they are made, they are irreversible. Sometimes we can’t control the choices that affect us most- as the saying goes, life isn’t always fair. Our lives can literally, radically change at the split second a decision is made by another person.
I can think of many examples of this in my own life- can’t we all? People make decisions around us that affect us all the time. However, some decisions bear more weight than others, and while we may believe our circumstances are bad, there are always worse.
This summer has humbled me to place a bigger emphasis on the lives of others and the decisions that have affected them rather than focus on the decisions that may have affected me.
I can’t even pretend to understand the ramifications someone experiences when they have been trafficked. Life may never be the same for that person. Yet I choose to fight on the sidelines as an advocate against this injustice because I want the victims to know that I care about them as individuals and that their lives matter. The choices that their pimps have made, that have drastically affected their lives, matter. Rescuing, and providing a place that enables God’s love and justice to redeem them, matters.
Recently I was going through documents saved on my computer to clear up space. I came across a paper I wrote for a Bible as Literature class my freshman year of college that was really monumental in my choice to fight against trafficking. My teacher asked why I care about the issue of human trafficking so deeply. One section of the paper reads:
“It became clear to me that there is a distinct separation between myself and the world, as well as a separation between myself and those who are not educated on modern day slavery. In class, we talked a lot about separation, but it surprised me as I came to the realization that there was separation so distinctly in my own life. Why am I so passionate? Because I feel a sense of oneness to those enslaved, who have no choice, no human rights, no freedom. Why are they enslaved yet I am free? One of the passages discussed the first day of class was 1 Corinthians 13, which explains true love and all the qualities of love. As 1 Corinthians 13: 4-6 reads (KJV):
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth. (217)
I read those verses and my heart awakens; I visualize the faces, the despair, the hopelessness, and the child reaching out to her mother, but her pushing her away and selling her to a man who strips away her very identity, crushes her spirits, and tells her she was never good enough. This is why I care; that could be me, and because I feel such a strong sense of oneness, I feel that it is me.”
Often trafficking is unseen, hidden in the shadows and covered up to appear as though life is normal and good and no evil exists around us. Trafficking actually occurs in Lancaster? Yes, it does. And even if there is only one girl who needs help, that’s enough of a reason to follow God’s desire for this ministry and for our team and volunteers to work with all our might to get the Harbor up and running.
I feel that the choices that have affected the lives of the victims, that others have made, can be transformed from a deep brokenness into beauty and grace. After all, isn’t it often how we respond to the choices that affect us and move forward from them that can make or break us? If we can give women the choice to live in community and experience family at the Harbor, I believe it is a choice worth fighting for. People matter.