The Ripple Effect That Changed My Life
We are connected through a social tapestry that often begins with the ripple from another’s words or action.
The term “ripple effect” is used to describe what happens after an object is dropped into water. It creates a pattern that expands from the original point of origin. The impact is felt in waves that keep growing and expanding.
The same can be said of words, an act of kindness or goodwill. The immediate ripple is felt by the person or persons directly impacted by the words or the act. However, it then begins to grow and multiplies as the story of impact is told. It then affects someone else. It inspires their own growth or giving.
We at Courage Worldwide want to begin a series of ripple effect stories. Stories where another person influenced and inspired us with their direct or indirect actions or their words. We also want to hear your ripple stories. We want to share them with the world! We all need some encouragement during this unprecedent time in our world. We need to tell our collective stories to inspire and encourage each other.
I can point to two people who impacted my life in an enormous way: Don and Bridget Brewster.
It was a Sunday, fourteen years ago. July 2007. We had just moved to Sacramento, California from the Bay Area. I was visiting a new church. I was one of 3,000 people there on that particular Sunday. There was a guest speaker Sunday morning, Don Brewster. Although he was a preacher, he did not preach a message I anticipated. Instead, he told me I lived in a world where children were sold for sex. He told how his heart had been broken then recalibrated by God over an issue and the vulnerable children it impacted.
The proverbial rock was dropped into the water and its ripples crashed into me.
With his words, Don painted a picture I did not want to see. Children being sold for sex.
He told of children in Cambodia as young as five years old, who were systematically sold to men – sold as if they were a commodity as if they had no value, feelings or purpose. My body was literally racked with sobs. I could feel my heart breaking, violently ripping inside of me. I doubted I would ever be the same.
It’s a home.
As I wrestled with my emotions, I heard those words whispered to my spirit. It’s a home.
Don began to tell how his own life had changed when he learned of the plight of these Cambodian children. How when he and his wife, Bridget, learned of this hideous crime against children from a T.V. show, they knew they had to do something. So they did what any of us would do. They quit their jobs, sold everything they owned, and moved to Cambodia to start a home for children rescued from the sex slave trade — all with absolutely no idea just how to do that. Simple, right?
It’s a home.
At this point in the service, the atmosphere dramatically changed when Don started to deliver hope in large doses. He began to tell stories of how lives are impacted and futures changed when a safe home and loving family are provided to these vulnerable, yet invisible children. He told us their names. I could imagine their faces. I pondered the fact that they each had a unique destiny to fulfill.
It’s a home.
I wrote those words over and over on my church bulletin as Don continued with these stories of hope and of transformation. God was writing a new future for these children through Don and Bridget. A seismic shift was happening in side of me as I listened. The ripple effect was getting stronger! Suddenly, instead of feeling helpless and heartbroken, I wanted to be a part of the solution. I wanted to be a part of this restoration story. I wanted to bring people together for this purpose. I wanted to shout it out loud that these children were created on purpose for a purpose. I could hardly remain silent.
I was a witness to God doing extraordinary things through ordinary people. Don said he was one. I wanted to be another. I realized it was a story our Creator wanted to write on each of our lives… including the lives of these vulnerable children.
It’s a home.
For days after that church service I prayed, “Cambodia? You want me to go to Cambodia?” I really did not think my husband was going to agree to move our family to Cambodia. In fact, I was certain of it. So instead, I wrote the biggest donation check that would clear our bank account to the Brewster’s non-profit organization (AIM) thinking that would satisfy the ache in my heart and maybe even the prompting of my Creator.
It did not work.
I still cried for weeks. I literally cried for all the children around the world being sold to strangers by the parents who were supposed to love and protect them. I cried as if they were my own daughters. When I confided to a friend that I thought I was going crazy with grief for children I had never met, who felt like my own, she told me that she believed God was letting me feel His heart for these precious little ones. “It’s unbearable,” I sobbed.
Eventually, I had a fight with my Creator over this hideous issue of selling children for sex.
“You could make this stop. You could take it off the table. Make this issue, the issue of selling children, cease!” I angrily demanded.
I felt a whispered response to my heart:
What age would that be? Five years old? Ten? Is it okay for a fifteen-year-old to be tortured, raped, and sold for sex? A twenty-five-year-old?
I could see this arguing with my Maker was going nowhere, so I shouted from the depths of my soul, “JUST DO SOMETHING!” And before I had time to take a breath, He said to me, “Why don’t you?”
That was a holy moment.
Time stood still.
It’s a home.
“I’m just a mom,” I whined.
Good, because that is just what they need—a mom, a family. These are your daughters. Find them. Build them a home and call them family.
Waves of memories were washing over me. My life was at the pivotal point of convergence. Every life experience, every job, every conversation, even every struggle made sense. I knew what I had to do. But even more exciting, I knew what I was created to do. I had been divinely equipped for it my entire life.
That is how the journey at Courage Worldwide begin. It was a ripple from what Don and Bridget started. Without them, I doubt if I would have ever had the courage to begin.
Thank you friends for rippling my life with yours.
When you give to the mission and vision of Courage Worldwide, you are causing ripple effects into the lives and futures of young girls who have been exploited, abused, raped and trafficked. When you give, you provide them a safe home where they can heal from this far-reaching trauma. You give them an education so that they can prepare for a future of independence. You give them a time and place to be children. You give them food, healthcare and spiritual guidance. You give them a home.
Please consider a financial gift today so that we can keep on doing what God has called us to… build them homes and call them family.
Founder and CEO, Courage Worldwide