This past week has been very difficult for me. My prayer going into this program was to become more emotionally available to people and to have more compassion for those who are marginalized and vulnerable to exploitation. I did not know what that would mean and what process God would take me through for that to become a reality. This week God stripped me down to a very vulnerable bare state and caused me to examine things in my life that I did not realize were things that affected me. He really showed me how my identity was not based on Him and his love for me, rather based on negative views I had about myself as a black woman, and as an outgoing person. I am still trying to believe all the ways God affirms me in Him that he made me the way I am intentionally and that he desires to use me and all the parts of my personality to give him glory. The passage I have been focusing on, in relation to what God has been showing me has been Psalms 139.
We watched a documentary on Tuesday called Rape in the fields about women from Mexico mainly, and other Latin American countries who are extremely vulnerable to exploitation. These women are raped by their supervisors or sexually harassed and are threatened by deportation if they speak out. However, the 15 women who did speak out against one supervisor, ended up losing their case. After we watched this we moved into a time of prayer, and many of the women in the house voiced their frustration at the brokenness of our system, and the powerlessness we feel in general and as women when we see blatant injustice and people who would turn a blind eye.
This was my first full week as Nomi Network and I got to learn a lot more about what it is they do. This is a non-profit whose founders created the name Nomi Network, based on the story of a young 8 year-old girl in India, named Nomi, who was a survivor of sex trafficking. They then moved to create a way to help women and children like Nomi, in India and also Cambodia who were vulnerable to trafficking by providing them with economic opportunities like training them in programs. These women go through a two year training course where they learn to read and write and then how to sew and stitch. This non-profit is unique in that they have designers come in to make these products made by the women in India and Cambodia so that they are fashionable, and therefore sellable. The Items that these women make are then sold here in the US as fair trade clothing. I also learned about fair trade clothing and the companies that knowingly exploit children in developing nations while saying they had no knowledge of slavery. I am not a lawyer yet, but I can do my part in making sure the clothes that I buy are fair trade. It may cost a bit more but it is worth it if I can be a part of the solution rather than the problem. If you would like to see the products that Nomi Network sells, here is the website! www.buyherbagnotherbody.com
Don’t Walk By
Kaitlyn and I
On Thursday night, I joined two of my friends here, Kaitlyn and Allison at their internship for a weekly event called ‘Don’t Walk By” with Relief NYC. The idea of this is just to go into NYC and not to walk by anyone who might be homeless or looks like they are in need of anything. We are given bags of socks and hygiene kits for people, however, the purpose is not just to give out socks and kits but rather to talk to people, get to know them, invite them to dinner and pay for them or to help them in any way we can. It was not the first time that I was able to do an event like this however it was the first time I saw God do something I never expected. We first met a man named Even who was extremely humble and did not want to take anything from us that he said he didn’t need. We offered him many things and he said that he didn’t want to take anything and that we should give it to someone else on the street in need. It was amazing to see so much selflessness from someone who was homeless, and to see that he was putting others before himself. After talking to him more we found out that he was a Christian and he began to encourage us as young women saying that we chose the right path, and regardless of what other people our age are doing just to have fun, we are having more fulfillment.
The highlight of my night however was when I met a man names Shawn. He was telling us about his life, and his past ad how he desires to turn his life around. He was telling me how difficult it is not being employed year round and how hard it is not to fall back into a life of crime and dealing drugs. He shared how angry he has been and how he just has no peace, and that he desires to go to a church. He was 46 years old and has never stepped foot into a church but he said he know that everything would be better if he did. As I spoke to him I could feel his longing for hope, and love and for Jesus and I shared with him about God’s love for him. We read John 3:16 to him and it was amazing to see his eyes light up when we told him about what God did for him by sending Jesus. He asked if God loved him even though he went to prison and did terrible things in his life, and we told him that God loved him before, during, and after he did those things. It really increased my faith to see someone hear about God’s love for the first time and to think about how differently I would come to God if I was hearing this good news for the first time! I thank God for his love for all of us and I thank God for the opportunity to share in moments of pain with people and moments of immense joy.