Who would I be if you believed in me?
Jenny Williamson: When I first heard that I lived in a world that sells children for sex my response was to pray to the God I had faith in and cry out “Why don’t you do something?” I believe He whispered to heart “Why don’t you?”.
So I did.
I announced to anyone that would listen to me that our organization was going to build a home for these vulnerable children. I told my husband, my friends, my family and even complete strangers! I even told a reporter at our local newspaper. I was shocked when they printed that quote and a photograph of me. From that news article, I received over 200 phone calls and emails.
Three of the phone calls were from women who identified themselves as prostitutes. Each of them said almost the exact same thing…
“Please build this home! It is too late for me – but these children, all they need is someone to believe in them.”
Believe in me. Believe in me. Who would I be if you believed in me?
These words went round and round in my head. I remember thinking – this sounds like a song.
A week later, I received another phone call due to the article in the paper. It was a woman named Stephanie Midthun. She identified herself as a local pastor’s wife who had just come back from Africa but felt that God was putting on her heart the need to do something for the hurting children in her own backyard. I agreed to meet her.
Stephanie Midthun: God wrecked my heart for street children in Africa in 2003 when I went on a volunteer trip to Kenya. He called me to be a voice for them and use my gifts in music and putting on concerts to raise awareness and funds to bring more children off the streets. In the summer of 2008, God whispered to my heart, “Now there’s something for you to also do for children in your community.” I prayed about it and somehow had a sense that it was a very heavy calling.
When I saw the article on the front page of the paper about Jenny’s dream to build a Courage House for children who have been trafficked for sex, I gave her a call. We met for coffee and realized we had a shared love for Africa and she had just returned from there. She was telling me about children who had been rescued by the FBI and the need for Courage House here in the United States. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, and without knowing that I was a musician, Jenny told me, “Stephanie, I need a song to tell their story.” Then I knew what I had to do, as she shared with me about her conversations with survivors that all said the same thing, ‘I just need someone to believe in me.’ I wrote the song Believe in Me to be a voice for these children. Subsequently, due to some very talented and generous individuals, the song became a music video and we released it on social media as a vehicle to educate communities about this issue and its impact upon victims. We never dreamed of its impact and rippling effect…
Liz Williamson: I remember the first time I saw and heard the Believe in Me music video. I was sitting on the floor of a room where I would later be sold – yes, sold. Something in that song broke through years of conditioning and lies that made me accept the reality that I deserved to be bought and sold.
It had been my normal for as long as I could remember.
I was 23 at the time.
As I write this, I am 34. So much life has happened during that span of time.
It wasn’t too late for me. Courage Worldwide brought me home and called me family. (That’s another ripple effect story for another time.)
I am forever grateful to Courage for giving me the home and space I needed to start my journey of healing. Healing and learning to embrace my past is a continuous journey. Before I got married last year, we took a drive out to the Courage property in California. While we only were able to approach the front gate, so many memories were present there, too.
I thought about the first time I went down that driveway. I thought about the last time I traveled through that gate. I chuckled about the silly antics we had with getting the garbage cans down to the road weekly. So much life has happened in such a short span of time. But, it truly feels like a lifetime.
Courage was a lifeline for me.
It is a tangible place I can think of where memories created a safe place within my heart to refer to. It is my hope that others remember that place, too.
I learned how much I enjoy creating art through Courage. I still enjoy art and the opportunity it gives me to express myself.
I always smile when I see pictures on social media of the progress in Tanzania. The girls and I have met over Skype before. They thanked me for coming before them and giving them a path to follow. But, truly, it is their journey that gives my feet courage to keep moving forward and believing in our destinies for each of us.
My days at Courage are something I reflect on daily. Something will remind me of the girls I called “sister”, the house which became our home, or the many memories we made. When they occur I take a moment to be grateful for all it. The people at Courage had such a ripple effect in my life; it is now my desire to do the same with others.
Jenny Williamson: We did bring Liz home and called her our family. She became family – a sister – to many of the young girls who came to call Courage House home. She is now a successful, independent, married young woman throwing pebbles from her life into the universe to impact those who need a guide on their healing journey. Liz lends her voice to those who do not have one. She lends her voice and her experience to train communicates about the impact this crime has upon its victims.
The ripple effect… it brought Liz and many girls like her home.
When you financially give to Courage Worldwide you are causing this ripple effect. Without those of you who gave to building these homes Liz and hundreds of others girls just like her would not have a safe place to call home and hope of a future.
Would you consider a financial gift at this time so that we can continue rescuing and restoring young girls who have been sold and exploited for sex?
Thank you for your prayerful consideration.
Founder & CEO, Courage Worldwide
Currently, Liz Williamson G. is working as a Training Specialist using her story to train companies to recognize trafficking in the US and Canada. “I love being able to use my story to impact thousands every month. None of this would have been possible without the foundation I gained from my time with Courage.”