Last week I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit raising awareness and funds to build more homes for victims of sex trafficking. I wanted to quit fighting and working so hard. I wanted to quit doing all the things I am so passionate about — not because things are bad or too hard — I wanted to quit because things are so good right now at Courage House!
I have fallen madly in love with the girls who call Courage House home. So much so, that I wanted to quit and bring them into my home. My greatest desire was to just be their mom. I wanted to help them with their homework, teach them about life and tuck them in bed every night with kisses and prayers.
It made so much sense to me. My husband and I are recent empty nesters. We have plenty of space in our home and in our hearts for these girls that we already call family. I was serious. It seemed so logical and so easy. It seemed a good reason to quit.
Excitedly I shared the plan with my husband and with God. I was shocked they both said the same thing to me.
“You can’t quit! There are more. There are more girls being raped, abused, tortured and sold as if they had no value or worth. If you quit, they will die. If you quit, they will never know the safety of a home, the love of a healthy family or the life changing reality that before time began they were created on purpose for a purpose. Quitting is not an option for you.”
These words lingered and haunted me for days. I pondered the implications of quitting.
Quitting means doing nothing. Quitting means stopping what you started. Quitting means settling for less than you have planned and worked for.
In good times, quitting masquerades as complacency. We get lulled into it. It disguises itself much like a weed in a vegetable garden. It looks healthy. It can even have some kind of fruit. But it has one purpose; to stop growth. That is what my decision would have done — stopped growth.
The idea of moving girls into my home and becoming a stay at home mom at the age of fifty-three would have stopped the dream and vision that was birthed in me years ago: the dream to rescue and restore girls from around the world who have been trafficked for sex, to build them homes and call them family.
It would have stopped the growth that we have seen among all the girls who now call Courage House home.
In these past months, their growth has been as rapid as the tomatoes springing up in my garden. It has been so good.
RODEOS, FATHER’S DAY & BAPTISM
Rodeos. We had a rodeo at Courage House! Six girls on six horses flying through the arena, racing to beat their own times and the clock. I wept as I watched them. No one could ever take this moment away from them. Girls who once had no control or right to their own bodies now controlled an animal ten times as big as they were. They spent much time with their horse learning how to work together – to be a team.
They beat the clock and their fears. They waved to the cheering crowd as they entered the arena as if they had just been crowned Queen of the Rodeo. They worked hard for their place in the arena. They were so confident of their ability and their place in this world. Those of us in the crowd were mesmerized. No one would call them a victim of anything.
Though they competed with the clock, they did not compete with each other. They encouraged and cheered each other on as team mates, as sisters, aware that they were a part of a whole, God’s family. Together they had conquered much.
This was a very good day.
Father’s Day. On Father’s Day, the girls who call Courage House home invited my husband out for a surprise. We drove up as they were about to go on a trail ride with their horses. We promised we would wait for them and not go into the house. (They didn’t want us to spoil the surprise.) We walked the 50 acres at Courage House as we waited for the girls, thanking God for the miracle of this home and playing with the three goofy Labrador retrievers Ezra, Nehemiah and Willie who also call Courage House home.
The rolling hills, the creek, the horses and the wide open spaces are the backdrop where healing and restoration happens for girls who once had no hope or no home.
The girls returned, took charge and walked us into the house. I laughed as they situated my husband in the middle of the couch and formally surrounded him one by one. One ran to the kitchen to get their creation and presented him with chocolate chip pancakes cut out to say Happy Father’s Day. They informed us they had no cake mix. Two pieces slid off in the presentation and the dogs gobbled them up before we could retrieve them. Laughter filled the air and traveled straight to my heart.
I thought there was no better gift that could be given than giggles from girls who had to learn to laugh again. But after the pancake presentation, the girls wanted to present Father’s Day cards they handmade, to a man who was not their father but whom many of them call dad. Out loud, one by one they emotionally shared words from their heart and off their cards to my husband. In their own way and in their own words, they all said the same thing …
“Because of you, we can now believe in good men. We didn’t before we came home to Courage House. All the men we have known hurt us. No one man has ever protected us. By being kind to us, by going for walks with us, by being silly with us, we now know what it is like to be loved by a real Father and a good man. Thank you.”
It was a precious moment, one of those ones where time stands still and a hush comes over the room. All of us who were fortunate enough to be present held our breaths and silently cried as the girls spoke their new truth out loud. No one could ever rob them of this experience – there are good men who will fight for and protect them. Young girls who once had no voice, who had to be given permission to speak – spoke out loud their deepest longings and offered it as a gift to one they could trust. This was a good day.
Baptism. It is a symbol of leaving an old, dead life for a new, exciting one. That is what three of our girls chose to do one Sunday last month – leave their old life filled with fear, dread and shame for a new one that promised hope, a future and a family. They stood up in front of a church crowded with people – not as trafficking victims – but teenagers in a youth group. Individually and collectively they said,
“I want to stop being the old me and I want to be the new me.”
The symbolism of baptism is centuries old but felt brand new as we watched girls who once were held captive now declare themselves free by this symbolic act. Those of us who watched were amazed by their boldness, their confidence and their resolve which resulted from only months at Courage House — months being loved on and believed in. To watch transformation happen literally before your eyes leaves you speechless and filled with wonder. This too was a good day – a very good day.
QUITTING IS NOT AN OPTION
Please understand – good is not perfect and good certainly doesn’t mean easy. All these memories, these experiences, were fought for by the girls and those of us who love and work with them. There are still long nights and difficult days as our girls mine their past for the lies and pain that are keeping them from their true identity and destiny. They have vowed not to quit and so have we.
The rodeo, Father’s Day and the baptisms all conspired to make me want to quit because of the good, because of these amazing young girls. They are my heroes. My daughters.
But my husband and God were right. How could I quit? There are so many more — more girls who are being held captive, who need to know there are good men out there, more who need a safe home and a loving family. Since the first of this year, we have said no to fifty-one girls who wanted to come home to Courage House because we don’t have the space … yet.
That makes quitting not an option for me, for us — what about you?
If you have prayed for us in the past — please don’t grow weary and quit! We believe a great harvest is coming as a direct result of prayer. We cannot do what we do without your prayers. If you would like to be one of monthly prayer partners, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you specific ways to pray each month or as needs arise.
If you have volunteered for us in the past but have stopped — will you do so again?
I am so sorry if you emailed or called us and we didn’t get back to you. Our staff is stretched so thin that we literally lack the resources to respond to every phone call or email. We need a volunteer to do just that!
I am so sorry if you volunteered and felt your efforts didn’t matter or that you weren’t appreciated. That is just not true. You matter. You being you matters. You being a champion of our cause and our girls matters – to them and to me. We cannot do what we have been called to do without you – to engage a million people, to build a 1000 homes in a 100 countries in 10 years so hundreds of thousands of children can be rescued from sex trafficking. This vision is going to take an army of committed individuals – it is going to take you. Please join us for our volunteer appreciation and 3 year celebration on September 2nd.
Please don’t quit. We have several big events coming up throughout the end of the year – two runs and a movie premier that we could use your help with. Email email@example.com if you would like to re-engage, attend the celebration event, and/or volunteer appreciation reception or to help us bring more children home.
If you are in the Sacramento, California area we have orientations and trainings coming up in the next few weeks and months where you can find a good fit to volunteer. For more information, go to CourageWorldwide.org/take-action/volunteer
For those of you who have given financially in the past, please don’t quit. We must raise 70% of our budget every single month from donors just like you in order to keep the two Courage Houses open and full of girls. In addition, we need to raise $70,000 for water engineering and testing required by the county before October 1st so we can be issued our Minor Use Permit (MUP) to begin building more cottages that will allow us to bring more girls home. If we don’t have these tests done by October, we will have to wait another year (they must be done in the dry season) to begin building more homes on our property and bringing more girls home. If you want more information regarding our expansion plans email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you a copy of our 2014/2015 business plan.
Please don’t stop giving. I hate saying no to children who have endured this type of trauma and pain and want to begin a new life at Courage House. The news media is confirming the lack of homes and services for rescued victims. Law enforcement sting operations are increasing and focused on recovering more child victims. Sadly, they just don’t have many options for placement.
Would you consider giving monthly? You can go to CourageWorldwide.org/give for a one-time gift or to set up monthly giving.
Please don’t quit caring, giving, praying and volunteering. Together we are making a difference.
Together we are changing the world one individual at a time; we have rodeos, Father’s Day and baptisms to prove it. We have girls who continue to be amazed that there are so many people who care and who have not quit. They are not quitting and neither am I.
Jenny Williamson, Founder/ CEO
Courage Worldwide™, Inc.