Change Begins with Me: Reflections from the CWC Immersion Trip to Berlin
By Kirsten Harmon
Imagine being trapped in a foreign country, unable to speak the language, forced to do a job that is unclean and dangerous. Perhaps you want to change your life, but your every moment, choice, and penny is controlled by a person that could easily beat you—even take your life. Say you somehow did escape, and made your way to a new neighborhood or town. You now have no home, no money, no life or job skills, no friends or family. There is a constant fear of being found. The only way you can think of to make a living would take you right back to the very life you’ve just fled. You feel powerless, helpless, worthless.
Human trafficking is no longer an issue “over there,” or “in that group,” or “with that kind of people.” It’s urban and rural, rich and poor, among families and orphans. In fact, some parents even offer their own children up to this life out of greed and desperation. I will never forget hearing the testimony of a woman forced into sexual slavery by her own mother and step-father. At the age of five, she was earning money for them using her body for sex acts and “pictures.” As an adult, she truly thought that her lifestyle was normal, and her only road in life. Through a prison ministry, she gave her life to the Lord, and is now using that story to reach others. This is happening in the house across the street, in your quiet neighborhood. It’s happening in your hotel while you’re on vacation. We can’t not talk about it anymore. We must talk about it.
When I received the common reading from Christian Women Connection prior to our September/October trip to Germany, I saw that it was about social justice. My first thought was something of the “pull themselves up by their boot straps” variety. Why can’t they do X, Y, or Z?” In the months leading up to our trip, the Lord opened my eyes and my heart to these marginalized people. Through a local organization called Children’s Lantern, and the loving work of Neustart Café and Pink Door Berlin, I have had my preconceived notions crushed and my attitude adjusted. Our trip to Berlin confirmed to me that Neustart and Pink Door show a kind of genuine love and concern for people that is unmistakably sincere and warm. They are pouring their lives into others in the same way that Jesus Christ did. Occasionally, their efforts are rewarded with a swift, positive outcome. Sometimes, they eventually reap the benefits of years of intentional investment in messy, complicated human lives. They are still patiently waiting for some to take that leap of faith. In the meantime, they are committed to walking through life with people. Many of these victims are groomed from a young age, or given no choice in the matter. There is also a small segment that choose this course. And what of it? They are just as deserving of love and redemption as I am.
Since returning to the United States, I have been asking the Lord what he wants me to take from this experience. What can I change? He has told me to step it up. To find where he is already at work and join him there. The Lord has told us what he wants of us: “To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God,” (Micah 6:8b) and to “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless…” (Isaiah 1:17). I offer myself to be changed. I offer myself to be an agent of love and change in others.
What is he asking of you?
Kirsten Harmon, a veteran of Christian Women Connection Immersion trips, is a registered nurse in northwest Ohio. She worships and serves at Auglaize Chapel Church of God. Article originally published by CWC. Republished by permission.