Last week I went to Albion College to speak at an event that my dear friends, Nora, Emily, & Chris put on to raise awareness of Sex Trafficking on their campus. I was fortunate enough to be given a large amount of time to talk, & I thought that it would be cool to post my talk on here. It was long, but maybe if you read it in chunks you will think it’s worth it. I guess I just want to give everyone a better idea of the journey I’ve been on so far.
A little less than a year ago I was at a conference when I heard a woman speak. Her message was about the true sense of beauty but I walked away from the talk hearing much more than that. This woman, her name was Amy Seiffert, was talking about how she was learning more about the source of real beauty while she was wearing he same dress for 6 months. & Everything she spoke about, I soaked up. I’m always down to learn about where my beauty comes from, besides my appearance.
It was why she was wearing the same dress for 6 months, however, that intrigued me the most. You see, she told us that she was doing it to raise awareness for human trafficking. & Simultaneously raise funds for an organization called The Daughter Project that was working to house children that were able to escape from the industry in one way or another. I was shocked to find that the organization was based out of Ohio. Ohio? Really? I don’t know about you guys, I didn’t even know there were really people in Ohio. How could a place like Ohio have a need for an organization like this? Well, here’s the reality…Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 U.S. States, Washington, D.C., and in some U.S. Territories. It happens in Ohio. It happens in Michigan. It happens in Rhode Island & in Arizona. 3 of the biggest trafficking states are California, Florida, and New York. This doesn’t just happen in movies. This doesn’t even just happen in other countries. This is in our own backyards. Here are some more stats for you:
There are more human slaves in the world today than ever before in history.
Some women are bought for as much as $10,000 dollars. Some, for as little as $30.
Since human trafficking is such a hidden crime, researchers think that statistics don’t fully reflect the reality of this industry.
More than 30% of all trafficking cases in 2007 & 2008 involved children being sold into the sex industry.
Human trafficking is estimated to surpass the drug trade in less than 5 years.
Some human traffickers recruit handicapped young girls such as those affected by Down Syndrome, into the sex industry.
Due to globalization, every continent of the world has been involved in human trafficking, including countries as small as Iceland.
According to the U.S. State Department, Human trafficking is one of the greatest human rights challenges of this century, both in the United States & around the world.
Does this all break your heart like it does mine? Does it give you a knot in your stomach? An anger? If you don’t have it now, let it soak for a while…it took me some time to realize just how impacted I would be about all of this.
After learning all of this, I thought for a few months on how I could possibly make a difference. I would never be brave enough to wear the same dress for months. I would never be rich enough to make a huge donation to organizations like The Daughter Project to help them. & I certainly wouldn’t have the resources to go see any of this first hand and try to make a difference.
Well, I was right & I was wrong. Alone, I couldn’t do any of this. Even partnered with friends, I wouldn’t be able to do this effectively or perfectly. But, there is God. My Abba, my Father. He was able. Able to do ANYTHING. & around September, he started showing me just how able he was. He started giving me the courage to consider wearing the same dress for 6 months. & Eventually, he gave me the courage I needed to start this journey with or without my family & friend’s approval. He also opened my eyes to the fact that even if I can only give a dollar to an organization or cause, if it is in His name, & they are doing His work, He is pleased with me. & Through out the process of wearing the same dress for 6 months, he has revealed to me that if I want to go into another country, or a city that needs to see His Light, he will provide everything that I will need to do it.
Now, let’s clear something up right here & right now. There are a few questions that I get asked all the time when people find out that I’m wearing the same dress for 6 months so let’s air it alllll out. I’m sure I can speak on behalf of the other women taking part in The One dress Project too. First of all, we wash the dress. We are passionate, not disgusting. Also, no, we don’t wear it to sleep. We wear pajamas to sleep. We also don’t wear it to work out. Again, we aren’t gross.
The last question is often worded differently, but it goes along the lines of….Why the same dress? Why 6 months? Why The One Dress Project? Well, the first reason is that these women and children probably only have 1 dress. 1 dress to wear to “work.” One dress to sleep in. It is probably worn down & stained & they don’t consider themselves beautiful in it. Also, if you wore the same dress for 1 week, you would soon learn how enslaved you feel by it. Enslaved by a piece of cloth. Want to wear sweats today? Too bad, you have to wear this dress. Want to stay in your pajamas all day? Too bad, you need to wear the dress. Want to look cute for that big event your going to? Well, you have a couple options, you could wear your dress or, oh wait, you only have one option. You have to wear the dress. Now, if we are going to be honest, I have no right to complain about this. Being enslaved by a piece of cloth, well, a cloth doesn’t beat me. It doesn’t rape me. It doesn’t starve me. A pimp. He does this to these women and children. A brothel owner, He will do all of these things to show these victims who they belong to. Even talking about this right now, my stomach feels sick.
Through out the journey of The One Dress Project, I have learned a lot about myself & my role in this whole injustice. You see, I have always felt that I don’t have much of a purpose. I’ve felt like I’m not a super feminine woman. My most used app on my phone is ESPN. I never have warm, comforting words to say; instead, I’m forward and blunt & probably will just make someone cry harder. I’m not graceful, as a matter of fact, I clunk around campus falling at least once a day. I’m not soft spoken; I’m the loudest person in a room. I’m not delicate; I’m insensitive & kind of rough around the edges. I was also under the impression that I wasn’t compassionate. I thought this because I had a hard time finding the right words to say to people. But here’s the thing. I’m forward & blunt? Good! Because there is a need for people that will be blunt and challenge others. It also keeps me challenging myself, constantly. I’m the opposite of graceful? Well, I don’t have a really good purpose for it, but the Father made me this way, so I’m sure it’s going to come into use later on. I’m loud. Perfect. Someone will hear me if I yell at them to stop. You’re hearing what I’m saying right now. I can use my loud voice to speak for those that can’t speak for themselves. I’m not delicate, That’s useful. I can withstand someone persecuting me. I can probably even take a punch or two if I never needed to. & then we get to the compassionate part. I think I’m not compassionate? Well, I’ve learned that I’m wrong. just because I don’t have fluffy warm words doesn’t mean anything. It takes compassion to pray for other people. It takes compassion to act against injustice. It takes compassion to care enough to get up from my oversized, comfy chair of complacency & make myself uncomfortable to fight for the comfort of someone else.
I challenge you to do the same. Take in everything that your hearing tonight. The stories. The statistics. Let it affect you. Let it break you heart. I can tell you that it breaks the Lord’s heart. So it’s supposed to break ours. But most importantly, don’t just stop there. Take that broken heart & do something. Use your voice to speak for those that can’t use theirs. Use the strength and power that you have been given and fight for the people that don’t have the ability to fight for themselves.
It’s not always going to be easy. People that love me, they thought I was a weirdo when I told them I was going to do this. I had to decide that I wanted to please my Father instead of pleasing man. They thought I was being too radical. I found that encouraging, because Jesus was a pretty radical fella. They didn’t understand why I would want to wear the same dress for my entire senior year. To me, this was the perfect season for this project. I don’t have a job that requires me to look professional every day, I have spare time on my hands, & this is my last year to make an impact on my campus. I have been told that I just seem to want to repel men away from wanting to date me. They are kind of right. If a man wants to be with me, he’s going to need to be the kind of man that can keep up with all the outrageous things I plan on doing for the rest of my life. He better be ready for the adventure that God has planned. But the hearts of opposition have been softened towards this project. & they have a better understanding of why I am doing what I am doing. I have also fought internally. I fought so many doubts that I wouldn’t be able to raise money for The Daughter Project, but within the first 15 days, I raised over $250.
I’m not going to be bold & say that you all will immediately grow a passion for justice. But I will say this, we were meant to hate injustice. & in that, we were meant to fight for justice. Don’t take it from me. Listen to what God has commanded.
Isaiah 1:17 says: “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
Jeremiah 22:3 says: “Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, & deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. & do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.”
Micah 6:8 says” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Pslam 82:3; “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.’
There are so many other verses that reveal God’s heart for us to fight injustice. He wants us to do it. He wants to use us to do it. It is a command. But don’t feel overwhelmed. He is good. & our Abba, our daddy, would never ask us to do anything without providing the strength, guidance, and love that we would need to do it.
So that finally leads me to the last thing I would like to talk about. When you do things, your schoolwork, your job, when you help others and volunteer your time, even when you fight injustice, who’s strength are you using to do it? Where are you getting your resources? Your family? Your friends? Yourself? Are you truly being provided for?
There is a provider. You see, God provided us with life. He created us. He provided us with the food that we need, the relationships with others, and the air we needed to breathe. We as humans, we chose to go against God’s will. We are all “sinful.” Which means that we just can’t get it right. We can’t balance out all of our sin with good things. We can’t wash away the stains of our own sin & disobedience. We are in slavery too. We are enslaved by our sins. This bondage is not visible, but it is very real. We can’t really enjoy life, because we are constantly constraining ourselves from experience the abundant life by getting in the way & thinking we know what’s best. & we can’t experience an enjoyable, real relationship with God because our sin distances us from Him. But once again, God provided. He sent his son, Jesus, down to earth to live a perfect life and die a horrible death that we deserved, not him. & Jesus’s blood, it was the provision we needed to wash away our sins. Jesus provided the sharp edge that cut away all of the bondage we were enslaved in. When Christ died, My name was on his heart. He died for me & my selfishness. My impurity. My dishonesty and disobedience. He died for you. & any sin that you are faced with in life. All we have to do? Accept it. Agree with God that we are sinful. Agree with God that he is a provider, & in Christ he provided the source of eternal, and abundant life. He provided a way for us to have a personal relationship with him, instead of the distant one we created for ourselves. Pray for Him to be the center of your life. Your purpose. Your provision.
I am not my own. I have a master. He is my heavenly Father, my Abba, my Daddy, and he is a good master. He gives me the abundant life. More than I could provide for myself. In Him I have found joy & grace. I have found satisfaction that I never found anywhere else. & I have found empowerment to fulfill His calls, including this one. This call to be radical, bold, and forward about what is true. To seek justice for his Children. To love others unconditionally, no matter how different they are from me, or how far away they live.
I’m not sure if you agree with everything I have said tonight. I would bet there are some people in this room that followed what I was saying all the way through & agreed with me. I find joy in that. Some of you might have been with me when I was talking about injustice and Human Trafficking. Saying “yeah! Let’s fight. Let’s use our voices. Let’s do this.” & then when I got to the Jesus part…your thoughts might have changed to. “where did they find this nut? This just got awkward…”. I find joy in that. Some of you might not have even known what you come to tonight. Your friend just dragged you along. I find humor in that. & I also find joy.
If you agreed with me, if you don’t. If you have questions, if you have comments. I would love to chat with you. If you want to know more about this Jesus thing, there are plenty of people that would love to tell you more. If you want to know more about The One Dress Project or how you can get involved, again, plenty of people would love to tell you allllll about it. If you have a spare buck, or some spare change, & you feel moved to donate it to The Daughter Project, we would be absolutely delighted to get it to them from you.
I thank you for giving me your time. & For letting me speak in front of you freely and share my story.