My Heart for Survivors
I love starting my day with the Word of God. Whether it is reading the Bible or “watching church”, I start my everyday with the Word. One morning, about nine years ago, while watching Joyce Meyer, she flashed on the monitors facts about human trafficking. One of the facts that flashed on the screen read, “Victims can be as young as 5 years old that service up to 20 men a day.” I was in shock to say the least. What I had just read…was this true? How could this be true? As other facts faded in and out, my heart and soul stayed on “five…years…old…”.
I fell to my knees, I felt weak as if I were going to faint or throw up. Instead of doing either, I wept. I wept for a very long time. My husband came to kneel beside me and ask what in the world was going on. With a broken heart and tear filled eyes, I told him all that I has just learned. I sobbed through telling him the things that I was doing when I was five years old. Playing school, practicing ballet, playing piano, dressing my dolls, playing house, climbing trees with my brothers, shopping with my mom, you know the things that most little girls get to do.
That was the day that I decided, right there on my living room floor, that I was going to do all that I could do as long as I had breath in my body. I didn’t exactly know at the time what I was committing myself to, but I knew that for the rest of my life I would do all that I possibly could to rescue victims of the most evil slavery one could ever imagine.
There would be no way of telling that the oath I made on my living room floor almost a decade ago would take me into the most grotesque trenches around the globe, and straight into the lives of little girls, that should have been in ballet classes.
When I began the non-profit YogaFaith, my personal mission bled into the ministry’s mission. At the heart of YogaFaith is the Greatest Commandment found in Isaiah 61, to heal the broken hearted, to set captives free, and to make disciples. We have been able to travel the globe sharing Christ and the healing power of the blood of Jesus and YogaFaith with survivors as young as five years old. We have been able to work with organizations such as Destiny Rescue, who have already rescued the children and brought them into their shelter. Their shelters are typically large buildings housing administrative offices, space for crafting and sewing, large open space for activities such as school, watching videos, or practicing YogaFaith. Other buildings house the survivors, so there are safe places to live, sleep and thrive with one another. There is also a building that houses the kitchen and dining room areas for 3 square meals provided each day for the survivors.
I use to use the term victim, but after years of working with all ages and gender, I changed my vocabulary from the term victim to survivor. Therefore, from here on out, together, we will name them as it is, they are survivors. No longer victims.
The wonderful thing about working with Christian organizations is that we have the freedom to have a daily Bible study or Word time. We have the freedom to worship wholly through YogaFaith, and as you know, the healing power of Jesus combined with Trauma Sensitive YogaFaith, TSYF, is what we call true transformation from the inside out. It is a wonderful thing to behold and observe healing happening with your own two eyes, sometimes it is an instant change.
I will never forget a young gal, on a hot rooftop in Thailand, she came out of Reclining Bound Angle literally a new girl! Her entire face and demeanor had changed. While the group was in the posture, they were singing Hallelujah with the English singing worship music playing, I remember wondering if they knew what they were singing, I was overjoyed to hear foreign voices singing in english, Hallelujah. When releasing the posture, I knew that God had done a work while they lay there and sang His praises. I knew that indeed, they knew the meaning of this english word!
There are other times that we, and yourself, will work with non-Christian organizations. We share similar subjects with the group, minus the bible studies. Yoga, healthy nutrition and purpose driven living. No matter who we work with, we want them to know in their heart that their future looks nothing like their past. That the rest of their life is going to be the best of their life!
YogaFaith’s future mission is teaching the leaders in the individual organizations YogaFaith. Recent studies have shown a negative impact of volunteers in these communities, Groups spending time with survivors, and then leaving, is yet one more trauma for most of these children. They attach, connect, trust again as we develop relationships with them, and the we go away.
To provide sustainability and safety, we want to educate the educators. These are people the survivors already trust and see each day. They also don’t need interpreters if in a third world country. This is the future of our work with traffic survivors and other trauma survivors.
This writing below is an excerpt from a blog I did after returning home from being in Asia 2 months.
The YogaFaith family and friends had raised enough funds, through classes and an auction, for myself and another YogaFaith-er to go and work with organizations in various parts of the rescue or restoration process. We began in Cambodia, working with a few different organizations. We then traveled to Chiang Rai, Thailand, where we worked everyday with the survivors housed at Destiny Rescue. We would also ride our bikes in the evening to “pray in circles” around the red light districts and massage parlors where young girls, barely clothed, stand outside with a number around their neck. We parted ways in Chiang Rai and worked with separate organizations thereafter. I flew into Ubon Ratchathani, visiting Bangkok and other areas greatly affected by the demand of traffickers, while my colleague went to Chiang Mai.
YogaFaith for Trauma & Traffick Survivors, Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TSY)
- Human Trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world
- More than 27 million people in bondage around the globe
- 1-2% of victims are ever released
- Average age of a victim is 12 and gets younger each year
- Since 2009, trafficking has grossed more than NIKE, Starbucks and Google combined
YogaFaith has had the honor and privilege to share Jesus and yoga to traffick survivors for several years now. There is no greater joy than to share hope and healing to these precious souls! Through Christ and Christian Yoga, trauma is surrendered and healing takes place. Those that experience trauma, experience depression and hopelessness, but I want to share that there is hope, His name is Jesus! Yes, you can redeem your body, mind, spirit and soul through YogaFaith!
Trauma, defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary is a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury.
Because trauma causes actual changes in the brain, a trauma sensitive yoga practice must reconnect the brain, breath, physical body and one’s spirit back together. When one experiences a traumatic event, there can be severe damage done to the insula, the section of the brain that regulates emotion and works in assisting motor control function. When trauma is experienced the body goes into “fight or flight” mode, automatically protecting itself. When insula damage exists, one no longer has the ability to experience or express what the physical body is doing. Therefore it may be impossible to express joy, love or even sadness. This is why traumatized individuals experience isolation or feel lost, disoriented and fall into depression because they become separate from their body, or their body becomes their own demise.
Many physical, mental and emotional issues arise from trauma. Those who suffer from a traumatizing experience may become paralyzed in self hate, shame, guilt, depression, or severe spikes in behavior. Overreacting to situations or a lack of reaction is a normal function to those who have experienced trauma. A host of physical ailments can arise as well such as insomnia, migraines, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), extreme depression, digestion and joint issues as well as many other limitations.
A victim of trauma often isolates themselves which is why yoga can provide an opportunity to enter into a safe community of caring people. A trauma sensitive yoga practice needs to encourage safe connections with other people but also reconnect their body, mind and spirit so traumatized individuals can begin to make peace with themselves and learn to trust others.
In YogaFaith we invite The Lord to come into these broken, abused and dead places, to breathe His Holy Spirit into every fiber of one’s being to restore, redeem and reclaim hope and healing.
I have taught YogaFaith to human traffick survivors for four years now. The most wonderful moments of my entire life have been to see young traffic survivors surrender the ashes of their trauma and literally watch with my own eyes the transforming power of Christ turn these ashes into something so beautiful. To hear the laughter, see the joy on the faces of those who were once enslaved by bondage and darkness now receive life and love through Jesus and yoga, there is nothing more beautiful.
Eight years ago I became an ambassador for Shared Hope International after learning that their were 5 year old little girls servicing up to 20 men a day. I made a personal vow that until I take my last breath I will do as much as I can to bring healing and restoration to these survivors. I have since traveled with other organizations and YogaFaithers to Bulgaria, Greece, Cambodia, Thailand and other parts of Asia sharing The Good News and YogaFaith with trauma and trafficked survivors.
There is no greater joy for me than to share hope and healing! Recently a local Seattle organization who rescue women spoke at our Teacher Training. Our gals generously raised $500 for them, one small opportunity, we came together in a few moments to bless this one organization.
We might not be able to do everything but together we can do something. It’s time to stop “navel gazing” and go beyond ourselves. We can make a difference in our world and we can save one life at a time!
Pray for these girls
In the large spectrum this epidemic is overwhelming and we may think that there is no way I can help. But YOU CAN HELP! Share with others the facts about human trafficking.
- Additional Facts:
- It’s all about supply and demand, clicking on any pornography promotes the whole industry
- Host a home meeting or outreach to raise awareness or hand out fliers
- Pray “prayer circles” around your city’s red light district (don’t forget the power of prayer)
- Pray for organizations that are on the forefront: Pray for strength, provision and safety
- Give financially or clothes, toiletries or other basic necessities that we have laying around our home
- Volunteer at a shelter to show survivors love and care (many are private & protected)
- Be cautious of any “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” that tries to lure/isolate your child away from family
- Know your child’s friends and other relationships. (It isn’t just boys who will take as long as a year to earn trust, they show up in places so one think’s it’s “destiny”)
- Trafficking is everywhere! Next door, in church, school, Starbucks, Forever 21, keep your eyes open!
- Never let a young child go alone to a public restroom, even with a buddy has proven to be irrelevant
- Human Trafficking is the fastest growing crime because with drugs, one uses a drug and it’s gone for good. But a human being can be used over and over again to reap bountiful profits
- Watch your child’s social media. Predators pose as “friends” or a girl to stock or lure children to place
- Be mindful of “checking in” on Facebook, predators are looking for patterns, again they can create a “Oh it must be destiny” scenario, as your child keeps seeing them at Starbucks
- NEVER share photos that contain part of your address in the same city you “check in”, avoid checking in, and/or sharing your children’s school, faces, etc.
- Continue to get the facts and become educated, every nation is affected by trafficking
This is only one type of trauma. This is why you being here, right now is so vital. There are many kinds of trauma, and YOU friend will be vital in being the hands and feet of God to help heal a [very] hurting world!
Get certified in the ancient healing modality of Guided Nidra and Meditation, use to release PTSD, Complex Trauma, TBI, stress , tension, anxiety, depression and hoplessness .