Well I made it back home on the last flight out of Europe – literally. But I'll save that story for another post.
I wanted to continue this week sharing some of the stories from our trip to Russia and Moldova. This trip really did something to me in my soul, messing me up in a good way.
A way that says,
"I can't pretend young girls don't get sex-trafficked by the tens of thousands."
"I can't pretend evil doesn't exist."
"I can't go back to living my life the same after this experience."
One of the saddest and heartbreaking events on the trip happened on the last day. You see, there were two girls who were best friends in the orphanage. They left at the same time and one of them entered one of our Programs at the Ministry Center and the other…went her own way.
She got involved with the wrong people and ended up being lured into sex-trafficking. She was found dead along a main highway road, likely killed by a trucker. Her trafficker forced her to work a popular truck stop. That's how her life ended.
The worst part about this is that we wanted to honor her in some way by taking flowers to her grave and doing a memorial. But we couldn't find where she was buried. This particular week was the time when all Orthodox Christians go to the graves to erect flowers to honor the memories of their loved ones. That's all we wanted to do and we couldn't do it.
We went to the cemetery anyway and I was horrified to see thousands of graves that were marked, "Unknown woman." I wondered how many orphans were there under those piles of dirt that were overgrown with weeds. No flowers, no memory, this piece of wood is all that is left of their lives.
At that point, something in my soul changed. This is a real battle we are fighting for the lives of orphans who are so vulnerable. I don't know about everybody else, but I have to do more. Helping to save one more life is worth it.
My buddy Brad Riley, the President of IEmpathize, said we have the best prevention programs he has seen, anywhere in the world. His organization focuses solely on girls who are sex-trafficked. That was good to know.
That's true because our staff on the ground are so amazing. They work endlessly at helping these kids day and night. I'm so thankful for them.
Many of you have asked how you can help. You've donated money to the ministry center, and I so appreciate that.
Brad and I have created something called, "The Orphan Experience." It's a multi-sensory event you walk through the includes video, art, and artifacts – you become the orphan. We'll be touring in the fall so if you are interested in hosting this powerful experience, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This isn't all right with me. I hope it's not right with you either. I know this is hard. But we can't turn away. Join us, shoot me an email, and let's stop this together.