I was wrong! Isn’t that wonderful!

Bria here.

So, as anyone who knows me even remotely well could tell you, I can be very stubborn and, like most people, I am definitely not someone who enjoys being wrong.

Most of the time.

However, today is not one of those times.  Today I was proven wrong…and I couldn’t be happier!  🙂

When I returned to Ukraine to fight human trafficking, it was with the understanding that I would very possibly be one of very few people working here in this field.  It was a very overwhelming and daunting thought – to have to pioneer, on my own, such a huge fight against such a huge monster.  But, I was determined that, if that was what needed to be done, then I would just have to do it.

Today, however, that understanding was proven false…and in a HUGE way!  I met with some incredible Ukrainian ladies today, whose organization (the Western Ukrainian Center “Women’s Perspectives”) has been battling against human trafficking in this country for 12 years!  And they are beautiful, and strong, and wise, and compassionate, and are covering so many bases and helping so many people.

In the past 12 years they have provided job training to countless women as a way of preventing women from falling for “employment opportunities abroad” scams and becoming victims of trafficking.  They have developed relationships with everyone from police officers and border guards – training them to be able to identify possible trafficking victims; to attorneys and judges – offering rescued victims justice against their traffickers.  They have reached out to the villages of Ukraine, where most of this country’s trafficked victims come from – to educate village government officials on the signs of someone who has been trafficked.  Many times, victims manage to get home, but are so traumatized and live in so much fear, that they don’t talk about what they’ve been through or even let anyone know what happened to them.  So, the village is trained to be able to identify victims, and can then direct them to this organization where they can get counseling, judicial help (if desired), job training, financial aid, etc.

I spoke to them about my desire to go into the schools, and it sounds like it may turn out to be a bit more difficult than I originally thought.  They have done some educating in schools, but said that there is so much bureaucracy in the Ukrainian school system, that it’s very difficult (near impossible) for anyone not associated with the Ukrainian school system to do any kind of education within school walls.  But, I know that my God is bigger than the impossible, and I believe with all my heart that He can give me any and every contact and connection that I need to get into the schools to educate Ukraine’s children!  No bureaucracy is gonna stand in my way!

After talking with these women, it also sounds like there’s a great opportunity for me to work in the area of getting church leaders and congregations involved in the fight.  When I mentioned that part of the work I had been doing with my friends in Nashville was educating churches, the ladies got very excited.  They said that this is a very big need in Ukraine, and getting churches to get involved in helping has been almost impossible for them.  (Which, honestly, is disgraceful and upsets me more than I can tell, and if I had time right now I would more than gladly jump up on my soapbox and rant for a bit.  But, I don’t (aren’t you relieved? 🙂 ), so maybe I’ll save that for another post.)

This Wednesday and Thursday (Sept. 22-23), Women’s Perspectives is hosting a conference in Lviv about human trafficking, and I have been invited to be one of the speakers!  I am indescribably honored, and feel indescribably inadequate to share the stage with such amazing women.  But I am so thankful for this opportunity, and will absolutely do my very best to honor my Jesus and to honor the millions of trafficking victims around the world!

There’s so much I still have to learn, but right now I am just so high up on Cloud 9 from having met these amazing women, and so thankful to have the opportunity to be partnering with them against this unfathomable evil.

I would be so blessed, and so grateful if you would pray for me!  Some things that you could specifically pray for are:

  • Wisdom to know what to say at the conference this week.
  • That God would fill people’s hearts at the conference with passion for justice.  The women I met with informed me that there will be some church leaders in attendance, so please especially pray for God’s Spirit to move their hearts.
  • That even now, in advance, God would begin to cultivate favor for me and connections with Ukrainian government officials in the area of education – the higher up, the better.  No prayer is too big for God!

YOU are such a huge blessing, and I can’t thank each one of you enough.  Every time you read our blog, send us encouragement, pray for us, spread the word about our ministries to your friends, etc – it just means more than we can tell you!  So thank you!…a million times over, and with a million prayers that God will supply for every need that you have according to His grace and wisdom!

Big Love in Jesus…
Bria
blessinggirls@gmail.com

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Update from Lindsay

Hello, everyone!

Just wanted to catch you up on what has been going on with me.  I am so happy to be here in Ukraine with my family, so thankful for the things God has called me to, and so excited to see what He has on the road ahead.

I have been helping Mom & Dad with the work on Bethel House and other things around the house and day-to-day life.  The project in Bethel House that I work the most on, along with my sisters, is putting up ceiling boards on the third floor.  I was a little intimidated at first, but have learned to enjoy using a power saw and nail gun! 🙂  At the moment, we have reached the point where we can’t continue without bringing on some major neck pain, so we’re trying to work out the best way to elevate ourselves, so we can continue upward.  However, this is kind of low on the priority list as the rooms on the second floor are constantly being worked on, and need to get completed asap, so that our family can move into them and out of the structure we’ve been living in (the original structure that was bought 7 years ago), so that the roof can be replaced.

I have also helped my parents in starting a blog site for them, so that they can keep people regularly updated on Bethel House construction and the other ministries happening.  Feel free to visit at www.blessingministry.wordpress.com As construction progresses so quickly, I am currently updating that weekly with lots of pictures on how things are coming together at Bethel House.

Finally, I have also found ways that I can serve the church my parents pastor, Living Word Church.  I have been running PowerPoint many Sundays for worship and have also volunteered to be a Sunday School teacher.  Tomorrow will be my first Sunday teaching (yes, in Ukrainian!), so your prayers would be appreciated.  Thankfully, children understand my very poor grammar much easier than adults! 🙂  I am very excited to be serving in this capacity, especially as the children’s minsitry begins to re-launch with a new vision and focus to be more effective in leading children into having a personal encounter with Jesus.  I look forward to watching, and being a part of, what God will be doing in this children’s ministry.

Thank you so much for remembering my sisters and me in your prayers.  Please continue to pray that I will have strength and focus as I serve here, being ever mindful of the callings God has placed on me.

All for Him,
Lindsay

Speedy Gonzales!

I don’t know if God has ever been affectionately referred to by that nickname before, and I would never presume to change the Lord’s name to Gonzales, but He is definitely speedy!  🙂

Just last night I received an email from a friend.  One of his friends had mentioned to him about a conference taking place in Moldova at the end of September for anyone in Europe working to end human trafficking, and he immediately sent me the link about it.  As soon as I read about the conference, I was so excited, and wanted so badly to be able to go and learn more about human trafficking in Europe from those who are directly involved in stopping it, and make contacts and hopefully friendships with other abolitionists.  But, of course as is always the “problem” (for me, anyway; not for God), the conference costs money.  They said on the site that there are limited scholarships available for people who want to attend, and that they didn’t want money to stand in anyone’s way, but I never want to be the one to take a scholarship and then someone else is possibly left without one.  So, I just started praying that the Lord, knowing how much I want to go to this conference, would provide all of the money I need if His plan for me and my ministry involves me going.

So then, this morning in church, I let my church family know of this opportunity and asked them to be praying that God would provide for me financially if He wants me there.  There was a couple visiting this morning from New Jersey, and after the service was over they approached me with $50 and said that they wanted to help a little to send me to the conference!  I definitely felt like that was the Lord’s confirmation that He wants me to go, so even though I still have a long way to go to cover travel & conference costs, I believe that He sent that $50 as a kind of seed money – that I can confidently make arrangements to go, and know that He will supply the rest!

My God is so amazing and, well, Speedy Gonzales ain’t got nothing on Him!  Haha!

I would be so thankful if you will add this conference to your prayers, and pray expectantly with me that God will supply all of my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!

Blessings!

All because of Jesus
Bria
blessinggirls@gmail.com

One Small Step

Hello everyone!  It’s Bria.

I can’t believe that it’s only been a little over 6 weeks since Lins and I left Nashville!  My life there seems like forever ago, and to my often-confused inner clock it feels like I’ve been back in Lviv for months.  I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I’ve definitely learned that the older I get, the less my body has any comprehension of time.  Haha!

My goal when I first got back home was rest, rest, REST!  And thank God, He allowed me to do just that.  I was able to sleep as much as my tired body desired, recover from the craziness of life in moving-mode, spend time with my family, help out around Bethel House with construction and gardening, meet up with friends at my favorite coffee shops and cafes, take my camera on photographic scavenger hunts in this gorgeous city…  It was bliss!

One of my photo treasures - a view of Lviv from atop High Castle Hill

But, never was the true reason for my return to Lviv far from my mind.  I had committed to giving myself one month to rest, and as soon as that month was over, the wheels of my mind started whirling.  I began searching out on the Internet as much information as I could find about human trafficking in Ukraine.  The known statistics are even more staggering than I had imagined.  For example: It’s estimated that approximately 40% of the world’s child pornography is produced in Ukraine!  Estimates also put 3040% of all of Ukraine’s prostitutes being between the ages of 11 and 18!

But, of course, reading statistics and being sick to my stomach doesn’t do anyone any good if I just stop there.  So, I felt like my next step needed to be to find out who else is in Ukraine trying to stop trafficking, what they’re doing exactly, and how we can work together.  After all, even if there are thousands of abolitionists at work in Ukraine, if we’re all trying to do our own thing we’re much less effective than if we combine our efforts.  I’ve managed to find a few organizations online who are passionate about ending slavery in Ukraine, and have slowly but surely been establishing contact with them.  One group has already developed an educational poster with a help hotline number on it for

The poster that is going up in schools around Ukraine

distribution in schools!  They’ve sent me the file so that I can print copies to hang in schools in Lviv, and I can’t wait to get started on that!

The next goal in my mind is to get into schools and begin educating Ukrainian kids about human trafficking – how it happens, and how to protect themselves from becoming victims.  I’ve found some educational materials in Russian from an online site that I’m sure will be very helpful.  But, I also feel that I need something more than just a smile and some information in order to really reach kids and impact them.  I’ve got numerous ideas swimming around in my head – concerts, mini-dramas, etc. – but I just know that I’m going to need something really intriguing in order to capture their attention.

I would appreciate your prayers so much as I begin diving into this ministry!  Please pray for…

  • Creativity.  That the Holy Spirit will inspire me with ideas to best capture the attention of children so that they can be educated and protected.
  • Co-workers.  That God will create partnerships between all of us who are working toward the same goal in Ukraine.  And that God will inspire other people here in Lviv with passion to see slavery ended in their city, and that they will put that passion into action and help me.
  • Protection.  That I will be protected from both spiritual and physical enemies, and that if needed, strength and courage will arise in me and I will walk in the boldness and confidence of being a daughter of God
  • Favor.  Pray that the Lord will give me favor and open doors with school and city officials.

I appreciate you and your prayers, and support so very, very much!  Feel free to leave any comments, questions, feedback, etc.  And we’ll do our best to keep updating as frequently as we can.  Much love and many blessings!

For Christ…
Bria
blessinggirls@gmail.com