We returned on Tuesday of last week from our 3 week trip to Mozambique, fresh with great memories and at the same time heartbreaking experiences. On Thursday and Friday we attended the Leadership Summit at our church, an annual leadership training event that always encourages us and challenges our thinking. I was definitely curious this year to see how the moments of disequilibrium would pan out with the two events so close to each other.
One of the speakers, Christine Cain, spoke of her great work rescuing girls trapped in the sex trafficking / slave trade. At the beginning I just wanted to walk out. My emotions were about at their breaking point. I think I had come to a point where I saw so much pain, poverty, sickness, and hunger in Mozambique that I didn't want to hear about more injustice and insurmountable pain around the world. It just seemed too overwhelming and hopeless. But I kept listening.
She said something profound that has freed my mind and heart to process all of this. She was talking about her own process when she first got started in her work, and she identified with the same thoughts I was thinking. She threw out the number 27 million... 27 million girls involved against their will in the sex trade, most of whom don't make it out alive. All for money and to please a bunch of horny men. She admitted that the number just seemed too great...what can I, one person possibly do to help 27 million?!?!? And that's exactly the question I've been asking too.
And then she challenged us to not look at the big number "27 million" anymore. Let it motivate you to get involved. But once you sign on to get your hands dirty, set the number aside. Because the reality is that there are 27 million "1's" within that number. Individuals. Each with a unique name and face and personality. She shared how when we look at the big number we depersonalize the need and remove ourselves from a place of hope. But when we look at the "1's" it gives us hope that we really can make a difference.
I don't know about you but that changes the game entirely! I immediately thought of all the "1's" in the project in Mozambique who are being fed, clothed, educated, and discipled. And it's given me a framework in which to process through. Over tne next few weeks I hope to record some thoughts about some of the "1's" we met in Mozambique. Lives are truly being saved and individuals are really being delivered from the generational clutches of poverty. But you can't look at the big numbers to see it.