As I lay in the bath last night, I realised something - it’s exactly 2 years (this week) that my journey into the traffick began. I’m not sure that I have ever actually shared on my blog the story that explains why human trafficking, sex slavery and God’s heart for justice have become such a HUGE part of my life over recent years, so here goes…
Up until 2012 I knew very little about the vile industry of the exploitation and sale of human beings for sex and slavery. It’s not like I had a vague idea or was in denial about it – I literally knew NOTHING! After listening to the teaching that came out of Passion 2012 (Francis Chan, Louis Giglio, Christine Caine et al) that started to change. However, nothing could have prepared me for the moment that God invaded my life several months later.
The journey dates back to the Ignite Hope festival on the May day bank holiday weekend in 2012. Part of my role at Ignite Hope was to teach the youth at the Valley Hub in Blackwood each morning. It was on the Saturday morning (6th May) that the divine invasion occurred. I was in a room with no more than 20 young people. We were having a time of sung worship and I have to say at this point that it definitely wasn’t hyped up (it was 10am and we were all knackered) and I hadn’t been eating a lot of cheese either. Anyway, it was as we were singing that I saw a vision.
Yes, a vision – one of those things that seems to happen quite a lot in the Bible but that seems to seriously wig out most of the reformed bredrinz and sistrinz I tend to roll with. Anyway, back to the vision!
What I saw was a prostitute standing on the corner of a street in part of Cardiff’s red light district. As I saw her standing there, cold and fearful, I audibly - yes audibly – heard the voice of God SHOUT the words:
“GO AND RESCUE HER!!!”
The voice was very strong. It wasn’t angry but it was urgent!
I literally fell back in my chair in floods of tears and wept for the remainder of the worship set before having to stand up and preach (apparently I looked a total wreck for the duration of that sermon, but no one else knew why!) I went straight home and shared the whole thing with Michelle who could see that I had been deeply affected and prayed with me. The voice had been so urgent that I determined to drive to that very street later that evening literally expecting to find a woman in danger and have to bust some kind of superhero rescue mission. However, before whacking a pair of red pants over my jeans I had to preach at the evening Ignite Hope event in the centre of Cardiff. Following what had happened that morning I preached on the story of the sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet (from Luke 7). As I preached the message, my epic artist friend, Lois Seco, was painting on the side of the stage.
Following the event I drove straight to the street that I had seen in the vision with fists clenched and heart-pumping…but was shocked (and a bit gutted) to find absolutely no one there. I drove around for a little while (trying my best to not look like a curb crawler) but soon realised that there was no one that needed rescuing that night.
I drove home confused…but with some crazy faith starting to stir.
Over the following days I talked everything out with Michelle and the more we talked the more we started to wonder whether this was about more than just one woman on one street in Cardiff. Perhaps God was awakening our hearts to something even bigger. We started to consider whether He was calling us to engage with the wider issues of sexual exploitation, human trafficking and global slavery, so we started to research, to pray and to make ourselves available.v
The months that followed were probably some of the most traumatic, painful and emotionally demanding months of our lives as we started to get ourselves educated and began to glimpse the horrific realities of what is suffered by millions of slaves around the world today. The rest of the story is pretty well covered in the archives of this blog.
At the time of writing the Red Community vision is on the cusp of exploding into something way beyond what we might have dreamt of just 2 years ago. (I’ll hopefully be posting a Red Community update on Friday). It’s hard to say what my life would look like today had I not heard the heart-cry of God on that special Saturday morning in May 2012. However, by His grace I did hear, I did respond and as we journey on into the traffick my prayer is that the legacy will be women, children, the abused and the enslaved rescued by the gospel for the glory of the Redeemer.
NB: The picture that Lois painted during my Luke 7 preach is now hanging on the wall of our living room as a permanent reminder of the day God shouted at me. It’s the picture at the top of this post.)