Apparently, two years is the incubation period when it comes to my ministry here.
Two years ago I met Chere and Malcolm, a Kiwi couple who were interested in serving with HOPE61 to prevent human trafficking in Ukraine. Things didn’t work out in Ukraine but we stayed in touch with each other through Facebook and Skype calls. When I traveled to New Zealand (NZ) in September I didn’t plan to meet up with them. Then, all of a sudden, things were happening and I believed God was prompting me to go visit them. This entails a four hour bus trip from Hamilton, Waikato, to New Plymouth, Taranaki. The scenery is beautiful, though, so I really can’t complain.
Before I boarded that bus I’d come to a conclusion. Owen and Avalon Brown, the co-directors of OMS New Zealand, had encouraged me in my plan. I wouldn’t just go to New Plymouth to say hello. I had something to ask both Chere and Malcolm…
Even after their Ukraine plans didn’t work out, I noticed Chere and Malcolm continuing to stand up for the cause of justice. They organized an event that raised thousands of dollars for anti-human trafficking efforts. They shared articles with me and the rest of their social network. Their passion wasn’t going anywhere.
In September, before I even bought a bus ticket to New Plymouth, the Browns and I discussed the need to refocus HOPE61 ministry (in NZ) on raising awareness. That, of course, is one-half of our goal as stated on the HOPE61 logo. In my own ministry, however, the ratio has approximately 25% raising awareness and 75% prevention. Maybe that’s because, when I learn something new, I automatically want to take others to that new point as well. What the people hearing me speak may need, however, is to learn from the very beginning. They need to take their own journey of understanding modern day slavery and their role in the problem, and that journey needs a start – not just a middle and end.
After a September Sunday visit to a tiny but generous church in NZ farm country, the Browns advised me to spend more time explaining the “starter” facts. I agreed. In NZ, I think, I need to allow the information to marinade in the minds of those hearing. I decided to refocus HOPE61 New Zealand to 60% raising awareness and 40% prevention. Of course, as awareness grows and the information matures, it may be simpler to transition into training churches to prevent human trafficking.
So I wondered – how can I get the awareness part more quickly covered so that prevention training can be introduced? My role, titled “HOPE61 trainer,” can really be split up into five roles: trainer, fundraiser, prayer, promoter/mobilizer, and networker. New Zealand’s size lends itself well to having a team of people who would each take on one of those roles, even as a sort of volunteer. A full-time HOPE61 worker could direct that team. (Me, for the moment.)
Two years. That’s how long I’ve believed that one of my ministry goals must be to replace and multiply myself with national workers. I’ve prayed about it, thought about it, shared it with others, even tried to make something happen. To create a ministry that will sustainably prevent the demand for human trafficking, New Zealanders and Australians must be involved.
When I boarded that bus in September I had a plan. Given each one’s gifts and abilities, I’d propose that Chere consider taking a role of promoter/mobilizer and Malcolm a role of trainer. I wasn’t sure what they would think, or if HOPE61 was still of interest to them. I wondered, as I have other times, how long it would really take to mobilize Australians and New Zealanders to join us not just in this hemisphere but in other parts of the world.
I don’t know exactly what I’m doing on this planet. People tell me I’m doing a good thing and doing it well, but sometimes I can’t believe that. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll work for fifty years and, upon coming to the end, reflect, and see very little point to what I did. Just on my own, I know nothing of significance.
But I’ll tell you who I do know. I know a God of great significance. Even if I look back on my life and can’t see any results I’ll see that I followed and loved Him. And that’s worth something – even if I asked Chere and Malcolm to join HOPE61 New Zealand and got a major rejection. Even if two years of prayer and waiting didn’t end up the way I wanted and I kept on praying and waiting for something that never happened.
So I asked.
They said yes.