There we were, sitting down to dinner as the sun set in our view over the Gulf of Mexico in Orange Beach, Alabama. It was one of those moments when you sit and marvel at the fact that God has placed you there. It felt like something out of a movie. We had gathered as a team over dinner to meet with Joe Savage, founder of Roads of Hope, an organization combating the plight of orphans susceptible to human trafficking in Ukraine and Moldova. The thing that immediately struck me about Joe was that though he was very influential, you would never know it. He talked to us like we were old friends. He shared story after story of the miraculous journeys of ten Ukrainian children who had made their way to the States to try to find forever homes—the very same kids that we, as a team, would get to spend time with over the next few days. Although I had heard terrible stories about human trafficking, I was utterly unprepared for the up-close and personal experiences we were getting ready to step into.
Two days later we were in Mobile, AL, spending the day with the kids for the first time. It was a little awkward at first, but as always in my travels with Abante, Kingdom-culture proved present and capable of transcending human culture. Of course, every place has its own uniqueness, but the Spirit of love, joy, peace, and hospitality is always there when the Kingdom is present. At any rate, our mission was to bless, encourage, and serve the kids and also the “house moms” overseeing the orphans during their month-long visit to the States. It was so cool to see the Church come together to make everyday special for our new friends. Not only that, but God used the language barrier that sought to divide us to teach me more about how His love transcends all perceived barriers. I didn’t once have a full conversation with any of them, but I was present. And I fell in love with them in such a way that I believe they could see it.
Although it was heart-wrenching to hear some of the back-stories of these precious children, this trip will continue to be a driving force in my life. Let me explain. Roger Daniel, a long-term mentor and friend of Abante International, says that, “Your mission will be tied to your greatest dissatisfaction.” As upsetting as human trafficking is to me, the reality is that God has me on a different mission than that of Joe Savage. I will continue to pray for Joe, my new friends, and Roads of Hope, but I’ve come to realize that my greatest dissatisfaction is unrealized potential. I’m talking about the people I see everyday at work who are miserable. They don’t know Jesus. They don’t know what they were created for. And their mission is to go to work to make money so that they can buy more stuff. I understand their mission because it was mine until someone was bold enough to “be Christ” outside the church to me. Abante International exists to see this kind of Kingdom mission impact every workplace. I pray that everyday, I let the pain of the lost, broken, and orphaned; the passion of people like Joe; and the purpose of our Heavenly Father compel me in love toward everyone I meet. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did?