by Christine Caine
Isn’t it easy to go through life without allowing our plans to be interrupted? We as leaders can so easily be consumed with our everyday routine and responsibilities that we sometimes fail to see the very people we have been called to help. We can become so “busy” doing things for God, that we fail to miss the God opportunities right in front of our face.
A few years ago I was confronted with this very situation myself as a leader when I was busily rushing from one ministry event to another, hopping planes and countries to try to make my speaking engagements…little did I know then that allowing myself to be interrupted would actually lead to what has become The A21 Campaign today.
It all began as I was walking through an airport in Greece – that is when I first saw the posters of missing women and children…alleged trafficked victims. I remember asking God, “What can I possibly do?” and then rattling off a dozen excuses about why He had chosen the wrong person and that I was already too busy doing ministry work for Him. (I could not possibly imagine running an international anti-trafficking organization in addition to our ministry work.) But the more I read the Word and learned about human trafficking, the more convinced I was that I had to do something; returning to life and ministry as usual was simply not an option. My life as a leader had been seriously interrupted.
One of the stories in the Bible that profoundly impacted me and further pushed me to take action, was the parable of the Good Samaritan. As a leader, I had always assumed that I was the Good Samaritan who cared for others and reached out to those in need. But the more I analyzed the story, the more I realized that I was actually a lot more like the Levite, who simply continued on his path instead of stopping to help the man in the ditch.
One of the reasons Nick and I launched The A21 Campaign was because we recognized that if we can help rescue and restore the life of one girl, then our efforts are having an eternal impact. I think so many times as leaders we can become distracted with what the next “cool” trend is, or what will provide the best return, without taking into consideration those who God has brought into our world to reach. We must ensure that we are attentive to His voice and led by His Spirit, and that we step out in obedience to do all that He is calling us to do.
Jesus made it clear in the parable of the Good Samaritan that the man who loved his neighbor was the one who showed mercy (not the one with the flashy robe or expensive sandals). Loving our neighbor has nothing to do with gender, ethnicity, geographical or cultural boundaries, or even religious affiliation, but rather our neighbor is described as anyone in need. Whether it is the lady in our congregation who is lonely because her husband just passed away, the corporate CEO who is battling stress, the volunteer in our children’s classroom that battles post-natal depression, the young boy in the church youth group who is bullied and has no friends, the woman without access to fresh water or food for her starving child, the person who is secretly living with HIV AIDS, or the child living in a poverty-stricken village on the other side of the world, we have a responsibility to reach out in love and meet the needs of all who are lost and hurting.
Through The A21 Campaign, we are actively helping rescued trafficked victims find healing and restoration, as well as prosecuting traffickers, working with local authorities to uphold justice, and educating those in danger of being trafficked. I am so thankful that in my own journey, I chose to stop, notice, and take action when exposed to injustice. But it did require me to change my thinking and redefine what ministry looked like in my life.
On your particular journey, who has God happened to bring across your path and uniquely asked you to extend a hand of compassion? I want to encourage you to examine your thoughts towards these people, and the way in which you interact with them. In order to truly be effective and inspire those around us to take action, we must elevate our thoughts and be intentional to align them with God’s Word. If we do not think new thoughts, then we will never be able to step into the new things God is calling us to do, or reach new people with His love.
As we choose to take notice of those God has placed around us, and decide to simply be obedient to Him, loving our neighbor is actually not complicated. It is a decision we must make to open our eyes, take notice, elevate our thinking, and reach out to meet the needs of those around us. We have to be willing to be leaders, interrupted.
Christine Caine is director of Equip & Empower Ministries and co founder of the anti-human trafficking organization The A21 Campaign. She is author of Undaunted: Daring to Do What God Calls You To Do. Christine and her husband, Nick, live with their two daughters in California.