I can’t change the world. It’s too big.
The staccato rhythm of instanity (my phrase for the instant availability and consumption of news these days) blurs my vision and dulls my senses, every second of every minute of every hour of every day. I want to stay engaged, and then I don’t, because I can’t. It’s too much. So I watch another episode of West Wing on Netflix and wait for the ache to go away.
I’m a suburban pastor, a white, educated male who won the lottery simply by being born where I did. I’m a writer. I’m a runner. I wonder what it means for me to engage with the poor.
But there were two girls, and we helped them.
Their names are Ejigayehu (on the left) and Tigist (on the right), both born in Ethiopia. I can imagine them running around at age four. I can hear their laughter at six. But there are the things that happened which I don’t want to see, and wish I didn’t know.
In her early teens, having lost both her parents, Ejigayehu wound up living on the streets. One day a woman met her and told her that she was beautiful, and that she could earn more money if she became a commercial sex worker. With no other options, that is what she did for three entire years. On her file, her only skill that she mentioned being proficient in was “massaging.”
At the age of nine, Tigist was sent away to be a house maid, because her mother had died in childbirth, and her father had remarried and no longer wanted her. After being sexually abused in that house, she left to find a job in a hotel, where she met other women who were involved in sex trafficking. Her file says that she learned that “skill” step-by-step.
Both Tigist and Ejigayehu were accepted into The Keziah Project, a house in Ethiopia designed to expose the worth and dignity of women like Tigist and Ejigayehu. They received counseling to deal with their hatred and disillusionment, education and training, and then sustainable jobs so that they could leave sex trafficking for good. The Keziah Project is part of Eyes that See, a Christian non profit run by two great friends of mine, Matt and Nikki Ness.
“We are passionate about seeing God’s Kingdom at work here on earth,” Matt and Nikki say to anyone who will listen. “We dream of children, families, and communities reflecting God’s image and radiating His love.”
After graduating from The Keziah Project in June, Tigist said, “I learned to love people again because of Keziah house.” Ejigayehu proudly said, “Now, I can hold my head up straight.”
These two women are now best friends who dream of opening up a bakery together.
I can’t change the world, but look at those women. Look at those smiles. They want to open up a bakery together!
The Keziah House is named so because Keziah was one of the daughters of Job, born to the biblical character after he had lost it all. It is said that Job is the oldest book in the Bible, and in that time period, it was unheard of for a woman to be named at all in a story like this. I imagine Keziah’s name being read out loud in that oral culture, and every time that was done, it was a shockwave of dignity. In the 42nd chapter of Job, we read about Keziah’s beauty, and about how she received a full inheritance along with her brothers, when Job died, also completely unheard of for a woman in those times. In the Keziah house, they teach women that they are beautiful daughters of the God who loves them, sees them, knows their names, and gives them a full inheritance.
I can’t change the world, but a few friends and I got together and prayed, dreamed, and imagined what could happen if we used our actual lives to help more women like Tigist and Ejigayehu. I am a writer, so I use this blog to raise awareness. I am also a runner, so I’m going to run the Grand Canyon on September 15th, from the North Rim to the South Rim (24 miles and 12,000 feet of elevation change), to show my willingness to do something unreasonable and sacrificial for women who need help.
It costs about $1,000 to put one woman through the Keziah Project, which includes counseling, education, training, a place to live after they graduate, and a sustainable job (we currently have a 100% job placement rate). We are trying to raise $50,000 so that 50 women can leave the commercial sex industry and get enrolled in the Keziah Project. To date, we’ve raised just over $26,000.
Would you also consider sharing this post (on facebook, email, and twitter) with others who might want to not change the world with us?
OK, I lied. I can change the world. But we need to do it together.
Who’s with me?