Never Say 'Never!' To Getting Involved

6 years ago

Sometimes, trying to convince oneself is not so convincing. Saying "Never!" to a situation may change that "Never!" into exactly what happens next. Whatever the timeline, this scenario will surely come your way. 'I will never be friends with her. I will never be a vegetarian. I will never work for someone I don't like.' Yeah, nice try.

 One of my “never’s” was to not participate in overseas missionary type work. No, thanks. I will write you a check and yes, please put me on your prayer email thingy but I do enough here in my hometown - for my Church, Children, and Charities. Truth is, there is a lot to do here and financially, we are California broke. (We live in 1,200 square feet with four people, buying our house for the yard and pool so, yeah, not exactly living in squalor.) 

In fact, if you have eight dollars to your name that is more wealth than most of our world’s population. Food for daily consumption is not an option for many, including people living in the U.S.A., meaning kids and adults often go hungry everywhere. 

Regardless, we are not without financial stress so it seems unwise and irresponsible to ask for money (I have learned it's not my business to ask but simply have faith that provision is coming). You see, I am very responsible. I make lists, honor my word, pay my bills...or at least I want to pay my bills. And my dream days of shopping at Nordstrom are long past. How could a mission trip to a far off country possibly be in the cards? 

After emphatically saying ‘no’ to the trip, something woke me every morning for a month -  my first thought was not of coffee (odd in itself) but of the mission trip I was most definitely NOT going on in June 2011. 

So, in some quiet inner shift, I decided to absolutely go because it’s non-deniable that obedience to my inner voice reaps blessings, denying the voice that is God for me wreaks havoc. 

Our mission is to travel to Sri Lanka and visit orphanages full of kids rescued from slavery and human sex trafficking, we aim to provide support for the pastors and kids by bringing them food and create things they need such as office organization or a basketball court. 

In the country I will be visiting, children are usually only removed from their parents for being sold for slavery or sex trafficking. Pastors are needed to care for the kids but they may also face danger for their belief system. The Church in many countries does the job of and is equivalent to our foster care parents and system in this country. Children are adopted as a preference in other countries to foster care, but an added component is many governments wont allow their children to be adopted out of country. The process to do so, in cases where it is allowed, often requires agency involvement and can be costly. Laws change as well so what is acceptable one year may not be the next. 

The atmosphere will be confusing and also culturally complicated. Nevertheless, these kids did not choose what their situation and they deserve hope and a safe passage to the light at the end of that abusive tunnel. 

I don't have a big statement of why this trip and not others over the last 17 plus years since I joined our mission’s driven-church other than the topic makes me mad enough to be proactive. It’s always better to throw water on fire than gasoline and change comes by working toward it without anger. People keep asking me, “Are you excited?” and I feel guilt in replying negatively but I am not excited, I just know it’s the right thing for me to do. 

Meanwhile, our life seems to be getting financially worse after some reprieve since I agreed to the mission, but there is peace in our home and my heart about it. Frankly, do I really care about my issues when a seven-year-old is trafficked somewhere and they are not sleeping or eating right? They are scared, have nowhere to go and cannot just get a job to improve their situation. They cannot make a statement like, "You will never touch me again" and get that wish to be free.

These kids believe they deserve their tragic lives because someone twisted their religion and convinced them they must have done something terrible in their past life to deserve it. Can you imagine believing that? So, do I care what my comfort level is? I do not and never will again. 

Whatever your religion, your race, your problems with the religions and races of the world, whatever my biases are, these are children who have no childhood. They are being used and abused by grown adults who should be protecting them but instead are trafficking them for sex and slavery. Can you imagine if that was your daughter, son (the boys are in more demand by the way….), niece or nephew?  

If your passion is animals, foster kids or the environment, then do something about that “never” you keep saying and go where there is work to be done. Find a way to give back because when you do, you serve yourself and your people because the world is now better since you started using our God-given gifts for others. Years go by and there is no free time (two foster kids here), no ideal economy, there are always problems at home but what about the helpless, the hungry, and the homeless? 

Just a final thought, the helpless, hungry and homeless maybe made some or several bad choices, but not everyone ends up where they are due to three bad decisions or drug addiction, and what if they did? Does our humanity end there? 

Do I believe in accountability? You bet, I have been raising kids for 20 years, but I also believe that if we reach out we will affect just one person and doesn’t that make it worth the effort? It does because that one person can affect one more person. “Pay it forward” as the saying goes.  

Reality is that doing “a lot” is not all that will be required from me forever and ever. By turning a “never” into a “yes, please!” means I am the initial ‘one person I am able to help’ - the first of many.

This is one so-called “never” I promise to keep. 


Kristen Lanter

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