It’s so easy to speak empathetic words about humanitarian needs and compassion for crises. It sounds good for those who hear it. But when the suffering actually impacts your life you are moved to action. One day in 2003, at a gas station on the German-Polish border, that suffering touched me - a story I recount in “See Me! Hear Me!”
I am certain God positioned me only two feet away from the staring eyes of a young girl in the process of being trafficked into Germany at that gas station. I could never emotionally block out or dismiss the message of her eyes which pierced my heart.
What Is Missing?
Twenty years of mentoring young adults in post-communist countries had made me wonder what quality my young students possessed that was different than those I had taught in American universities: the quality of a secure identity was missing.
Intelligent, creative and very gifted young people whose parents had been raised in communism lacked any understanding that they were unique, valued individuals treasured for their own being and not just ‘belonging to the Commonwealth’.
Scripture tells us:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;….the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1: 5- 8An essential aspect of the Judeo- Christian identity is that we are known and formed in the womb by God Who knows us individually, calling us to a unique destiny. God’s gifts are deposited in us to fulfill that destiny and God promises to be beside us.
Human trafficking seeks to break the identity of their victims in order to control them. This is accomplished with physical violence (repeated rape and beatings), humiliation (especially sexual) and dehumanizing behavior toward them. In the victim’s recovery, restoring a personal identity of value is the most resistant part of healing.
It is the church which can offer the most effective remedial help for these victims.
Our identity is given to us by God and cannot truly be ripped from us if we hold this truth, trusting in Christ with intercessory prayer. We, the Church, can do this.
Lessons from the Holocaust
Viktor Frankl, famous Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the horrors of the holocaust, wrote a book which analyzed the characteristic that allowed some to survive their torture and many others to perish. He described the survivors as one’s who held meaning attributed to their life’s journey - a destiny.
God instructed the Israelites to build altars to remember their identity in God. He called them to three major feasts a year to declare and remember their identity in God. The Jews forced into the ghettos and death camps of Europe mandated themselves to remember who they were in God. This knowledge can protect our souls, encourage our spirits and heal our God-given identity, no matter how intensely it has been put on the ‘rack’ to destroy.
This is the hope which my play offers.
Please join us in the Great Hall, Thursday, Oct. 8, 7:00 pm, Friday, Oct. 9, 7:00 pm, or Saturday, Oct. 10, 2:00 pm. After each performance we will have a short discussion and on Saturday guest experts in the fight against human trafficking will be present to address the issues. Tickets are for a suggested donation of $20, a percentage of which goes to the local fight against human trafficking. They can be obtained at www.stpaulcathedral.org/seeme, at the arts table in the courtyard after services and at the door.