Shepherding vs. Sheltering

We know that one large reason people back away from our ministry is because they fear for their family’s safety and their children’s innocence (makes sense). Sex trafficking isn’t necessarily a picture that you want to paint for your children’s view of the world. It is important to know that the fight against injustice and impurity is not just for single people, as some seem to believe. It’s definitely not for everyone either, but little ones are not disqualifiers by any means. Many of our best supporters, volunteers, and staff have both large and small families. It is common to have children running around our office at any point in time.

As a newlywed young woman, having children and starting a family are constantly on my mind. I frequently stop and look at my life, and think, “what would this be like with a child (or children)?” It is a really exciting, but also daunting, thought. As I work for Elijah Rising, I am continuously surrounded with an atmosphere of sober witness to our hyper-sexualized culture. One may think that because we see/hear and intervene in some of the darkest places that the surface level world would seem timid and unalarming. Unfortunately, pressing into prayer against lust and impurity has made us extremely aware of just how much sex and the dehumanization of women is put forth in almost every part of our culture.

For example, I recently went to an arcade with some jr. high students for a church lock-in. I decided to challenge one of the boys to some jet ski racing game. As we swipe our cards (since coins are outdated now) the first image that appears on the screen is a full bodied woman in very small clothing dancing in front of the racing vehicles. This moment seemed to represent everything that we come against. We seem to have little to no control over the influx of sexual imagery that we and children are faced with. The frightening thing to me is not necessarily what our child or we will see, but more so what these images will cause them to believe about themselves, others, sexuality, and their faith.

With that being said, I have decided to seek and share some wisdom from Evie Swayne who works with Elijah Rising. She has 3 (soon to be 4) beautiful young girls ranging from 2-8 years old. Evie is in charge of our donor relations as well as an in house intercessor, worship leader, and case manager. She has been a dear friend of Cat French and the ministry since the beginning. You can spot her and all her children at most of our events. I asked her some FAQ’s that we receive from Moms and Dads interested in the ministry. I wasn’t surprised at all to see that she has really wrestled with these thoughts herself.

Since you work for Elijah Rising, how much do your children know about what is going on?

“My children have a basic understanding and knowledge of what slavery is, and any time they hear the words sex trafficking, or human trafficking, they know that means slavery. They understand that the slavery these people are in forces them to do things they don’t want to do, and that it hurts their bodies and hearts. I will say however there is sooo much grace of the Lord on them. They have never asked me to define any words other than what they already know. They constantly hear us talk about Porn, and sex, but they have never asked. THAT is God. God has walked them through this process as much as he’s walked with me.”

Do you ever worry about your children’s safety?

“Safety… no. The only thing that sometimes concerns me is that the girls will occasionally have bad dreams about things that they don’t understand. It becomes a way to really train them up to fight spiritual warfare. All of us at Elijah Rising are fighting the orphan spirit, and as I learn to not walk in fear, my children learn to not walk in fear.”

How do you keep your children from being afraid? And how do you protect their innocence in this culture?

“I never want to instill the spirit of fear in my children. Let’s say you drive by a large Hindu temple and your kids ask what it is. Do you lie out of fear for their little minds and tell them that it’s a fancy hotel? No! That is why we need Jesus! I never believe in lying to my children. Lying is an open door and tool of the devil. The truth of all reality is that Jesus is good, and he wins. I want to train my children to be warriors, and not to hide from the battle. There is a big difference between innocence and ignorance. What a way to be exposed to things, if we are first exposed to the way God sees it! Let’s teach our kids about God’s righteousness, and not the world’s scariness”

What would you say a Moms role in fighting Sex Trafficking is?

“I would say that vulnerability and transparency are extremely important. I mean… let the ‘tribe’ help! Just give up your illusions of being a perfect mother and jump in! Just give it up. There is something truly amazing about walking with the Lord, and allowing him to train and raise up your kids. They are getting to grow up in the mission world, and they have to honor of being surrounded by lots of different gift mixes. It’s awesome to see their little gifts respond to the different gifts of the people in the staff. The biggest thing I would wish to posit is if the Lord has put a passion and a desire in your heart it is not supposed to sit on a shelf until your kids are grown up. So you must submit fear up to the Lord. If you are afraid of bringing a prostitute into your home, give it to the Lord. It will not taint your children. Trust me, I speak from experience! When you allow those walls of fear to come down, and you trust the Lord, the resources he will give you for your family will blow your mind. I have people all around me who want to help homeschool my children. It’s so wonderful.“

I hope that you find Evie’s thoughts and encouragements as insightful as I did. Though the insight comes from raising children around the justice movement, I think that we can apply it to parents in any walk of life. Whether we are in the ministry or not the battle will come to us eventually. We have to remember the truth of the word of God. The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear but the spirit of power and love (1 timothy 1:7). Lucky for you Evie is a gifted exhorter! She loves to encourage and lift up anyone and everyone that is around her. If you spend enough time with Elijah Rising you will undoubtedly rub elbows with her eventually. This is just a small glimpse at her incredibly big heart. I hope to continue this series and interview a Dad next, so stay tuned and God Bless!

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