It was late October and I had just attended the Invisible Chains book launch hosted by MP Joy Smith. In the words of Don Miller, it was time to “stand up and point toward a horizon.” It was time to want something, and I knew what I wanted: to use my gifts, skills, and passion to fight human trafficking.
As I considered my next steps I remembered a job advertisement I had seen a few days earlier. I toyed with the possibility of applying, but since it would require uprooting (again!) I didn’t know if I should. Then I received a book in the mail – Lioness Arising – from my friend Jenn. She hadn’t even read the book yet but she was certain that I had to. Jenn sent me an email a few weeks earlier telling me I should expect something in the mail and giving me this encouragement:
“Natalie, you are Strong. Beautiful. Powerful. Wonderful. Talented. Called. Anointed and Protected. And you are out of excuses for thinking you’re not. You are called to the dark places. You are a Lioness Arising. Get ready!”
Jenn’s words stuck with me. I had a renewed sense of hope that there was something beautiful just around the mountainside. I even wrote on the inside cover of my new journal, “Get ready, get excited! You are a Lioness Arising!” With this hope I decided to apply for the job. I chose a door, and now I just had to knock. It opened, and I was invited inside. In one month today I will walk through that door and arrive in Bangkok, Thailand.
When I applied for the 6 month Communications position with ECPAT International* (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) I knew that I met the qualifications, but I had no idea what my chances were. The statement at the bottom of the advertisement read, “Due to the high volume of resumes we receive, if you do not hear from us within 30 days, assume your application was not successful.”
I lay in bed one night in mid-November, wondering how many days it had been since I sent in my resume. I made a mental note to check my “Sent Mail” folder the next morning to see if I was still in the running.
It was that very “next morning” that I received an email from ECPAT requesting an interview the following Monday. I was ecstatic. But when I was offered the job on Wednesday morning I felt a sense of dread.
I was struggling with the money factor: a stipend of $300/month – enough to cover my rent. I felt gripped with fear at the thought of spending all of my money and going into debt on top of that. (Note: I was never misled about the pay – when I applied I knew there wasn’t a full salary. I personally made the assumption that the stipend would cover my expenses).
I set out on a 4 hour drive to my hometown – the perfect opportunity to be alone with my thoughts. By the time I pulled up to my old house (to creep, of course) the excitement was beginning to resurface again. I reached inside my bag for my cell phone so I could call my dad (because he loves our old house and it would have made him happy to know I was parked outside of it) and I noticed some texts from my friends. They all said the same thing: that this was an incredible opportunity to do something I’m passionate about. Money shouldn’t hold me back.
I thought about the reason I was in my hometown – to attend the funeral of a dear friend’s father. I thought about how short life is. I thought about this blog and how the “About Me” section says that I want to write a great story with my life, and that in order to do so I need to have the courage to make choices and live out opportunities that will line up with that story. I thought about how the good stories go to those who don’t give into fear; those who are willing to risk, to try, and even fail.
I haven’t been able to get away from the word “Risk” ever since I packed my bags and moved to Abbotsford, British Columbia almost 3 years ago. “Risk-taking obedience” is one of the core values of the organization that I worked for in BC, and interestingly enough, this organization is also the place where my heart for Thailand began to grow (that’s a whole other story in itself). I’ve never regretted the risks that I’ve taken. They’ve led to some of the most adventurous moments in my life. I know this new experience will be no exception.
When I think about the story I’ve been invited to become a part of, the word ‘risk’ doesn’t sound quite so daunting, and the financial sacrifices feel insignificant. Six months later I’ll come back home, I’ll go back to work, and I’ll start paying back any debt I’ve incurred. I have great expectations for what I am going to experience in Thailand. I have never felt so certain of my purpose. I know that this is going to be worth it!
*ECPAT International is a global network of organizations and individuals working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. It seeks to encourage the world community to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights free and secure from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation.
ECPAT oversees more than 75 organizations worldwide. The Canadian affiliate, Beyond Borders, is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
ECPAT and The Body Shop have formed a partnership to create and implement the global “STOP Sex Trafficking of Children & Young People Campaign.”