Blog

Voice

I’ve lost my voice.

Tis the season… of colds and illness. Combined with a busy season for Restorations attending numerous events and speaking engagements, a seasonal cold has caught up with me and I’ve lost my voice.

Every time I lose my voice, I am reminded of the privilege it is to have a voice – both the physical ability to speak words, and the privilege I hold in having my voice and my ideas heard. I also reflect on the feeling of powerlessness I experience when I can’t speak with the full volume or stamina that I’m used to.

Despite my hoarse voice, I can still speak, albeit whispers or with a little bit of pain. But without the use of microphones at this past weekend’s events, no one would have been able to hear me and I wouldn’t have been able to adequately express what I wanted to say.

A missionary colleague of mine explained advocacy to me a couple of years ago in a way I will never forget: advocacy is walking alongside others whose voices are not typically heard and using your voice to amplify theirs.

Proverbs 31:8-9 says “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

In the past, I may have described advocacy as speaking for others, or that advocacy is using my voice “for the voiceless.” The thing is, those who we are serving can speak; it is not our job to necessarily speak for them. It’s our job to be their microphone, to amplify their needs and their voice. And this begins with listening.

So while I rest my voice and let it heal, I am reminded to be quiet and continue listening to those I serve.

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Flourish

My daughter is three and in that phase where she’s curious and asks questions about bud 2everything and anything. We were running late one morning a couple of weeks ago, and as I was rushing her to the car she stooped over to pick up something from the ground. It was a bud of some sort and she asked, “Why is it green?” I quickly brushed her off with an “I don’t know.” Her response caught me off guard: “Maybe it didn’t have a chance to bloom.”

“Maybe it didn’t have a chance to bloom.”

I immediately thought of the girls and women we will come to serve at Restorations. Little girls dream of being ballerinas, teachers, doctors, mothers, “construction builders” (my daughter’s current choice). They don’t dream of being in prostitution when they grow up. Who plucked them before they had a chance to bloom?

The other night, I had the opportunity to speak with a young adult church group. They asked how they could make a difference, and I asked them to pray for the women we will come to meet and serve. I became emotional as I shared with them how overwhelming it is to think that the young women we will come to serve are currently are being exploited – or in a position where they are about to be. It’s devastating to know that as we are working hard to open our home, so much suffering is already being endured or the groundwork for it is happening. What is preventing these women from blooming, from flourishing?

“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

I looked up the definition of the word bloom. The verb “to bloom” could mean “to flourish or thrive,” but I really loved a definition I found of the noun use: “a flourishing, healthy condition; the time or period of greatest beauty, artistry, etc.”

I also looked up different definitions of the word flourish. Most of the definitions I found emphasized success or prosperity which don’t really seem to connect with my idea of flourishing. One definition really stood out to me: to grow well.

At Restorations, it is our desire to see residents have a chance to bloom like they haven’t had before. To nurture healthy condition and greatest beauty. To develop artistry in areas they may have only dreamed about. To “grow well.”

“The LORD will bring about
justice and praise
in every nation on earth,
like flowers blooming
in a garden.”
Isaiah 61:11 (CEV)

jon-flobrant-34820
Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

Exciting News!

With excitement, Restorations Second Stage Homes announces a new partnership with the Reformed Church in America and the appointment of our inaugural Executive Director.

As of April 2017, Restorations has entered into a formal partnership with the Reformed Church in America’s (RCA) Global Mission. In relationship and through fundraising with RCA congregations, this partnership will provide financial support to hire an Executive Director. In hiring our first staff member, we will be able to move forward boldly in our plans to open a home for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. We are thankful to RCA Global Mission for recognizing the importance of the work we are doing to address the needs of those who are escaping commercial sexual exploitation! We look forward to connecting and building relationships with RCA congregations across Canada and the United States so together we can work to provide futures full of love, hope and restoration for the women who come to live in our home.

Subsequently, we are excited to announce that we have appointed Jennifer Lucking as our first Executive Director to be employed starting October 2017. Jennifer Lucking has been working with the Regional Synod of Canada (part of the Reformed Church in America) since 2013. As part of her role with the Regional Synod of Canada, she was one of the founding members of Restorations and has sat on our board since 2013. In this period of transition and exciting change, we were sad to accept her resignation from the Board of Directors last month, but we are thrilled to be appointing her as Executive Director.

In the first year, Jennifer will be responsible for developing policies, procedures, and protocols for clients; forming and developing essential program partnerships to provide wrap-around services for clients; developing policy and training manuals for staff and volunteers; and working with the board to continue capital fundraising to sustain operational costs of Restorations Second Stage Homes.

Jennifer’s employment will be dependent on funds and support raised through her missionary status with the Reformed Church in America Global Mission, but we are confident that her passion and heart for this work will be contagious and that – with your help – her role will be fully funded by October 2017!

To learn more about how to support Jennifer’s new role, please visit www.rca.org/lucking
Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

In Christ,

The Board of Directors
Restorations Second Stage Homes

 


Meet Jennifer Lucking!  

Jennifer is deeply committed to addressing issues of slavery, human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Since 2013, she has been working with the Reformed Church in America’s Regional Synod of Canada where she has engaged with congregations, groups and individuals to equip and mobilize them in channeling their concerns for slavery and other justice issues. Ecumenical collaboration has been a crucial part of her work; she has collaborated with the Christian Reformed Church (Centre for Public Dialogue) and Defend Dignity on multiple awareness and advocacy projects and events. Jennifer is also the RCA representative to the Canadian Council of Churches’ Commission on Justice and Peace where she serves as the Vice Chair as well as the Chair for the Working Group on Sexual Exploitation in Canada.

Prior to her role with the Regional Synod of Canada, Jennifer worked for Walk With Me Canada, a victim services agency which provided support and services to victims and survivors of both labour and sex trafficking. There, she responded to crisis calls from law enforcement, victim services and other social agencies regarding victims of human trafficking, and she coordinated first-response care, support and services to accommodate immediate needs.

Jennifer obtained an Honours Bachelor of Arts from Wilfrid Laurier University where she majored in Global Studies and Religion & Culture. In 2015, she received a Master of Arts in Social Justice & Equity Studies from Brock University. Her research focused on the ways that pimps and traffickers target, recruit and condition females in Canada for the sex trade. Using her experience in victim services, awareness raising/education, and advocacy, Jennifer has vast experience in public speaking, sharing her knowledge with a variety of sectors and fields including law enforcement, health providers, social service providers, academia, and people of faith.

In her spare time, Jennifer can be found spending time with her family, in her gardens, or in the kitchen (cooking/baking and eating!). Isaiah 58:6 is often on Jennifer’s heart: “I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused!” (CEV)

Working Through the “Whys”

“Abundance in the Wilderness” is a Lenten video devotional series put together by the Reformed Church in America’s Women’s Transformation and Leadership team. Receive these two-minute video devotions every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during Lent, and each day of Holy Week by subscribing here: rca.org/lentvideos

Today’s video is by our board member who is also a missionary with the Reformed Church in America.

March 7, 2016—Abundance in the Wilderness from RCA on Vimeo.

What has you feeling down and defeated today?

Perhaps it’s something in your personal life? Health issues, relationship struggles with a family member or friend, or challenges at work.

Perhaps you are concerned about broader issues that seem beyond our realm of influence, like poverty, natural disasters, or slavery.

The Contemporary English Version of Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 says this: “Day and night I went without sleep, trying to understand what goes on in this world. I saw everything God does, and I realized that no one can really understand what happens. We may be very wise, but no matter how much we try or how much we claim to know, we cannot understand it all.”

Do you ever feel like a “bad Christian” for dwelling in the “whys?”? Last year, I was really struggling with the enormity of slavery in our world today and my calling to address this issue. I would go to conferences where speakers said things like “our generation can end slavery!” My struggle felt like a teeter totter as I balanced between conflicting thoughts: “we can end slavery!” and “there are approximately 35 million enslaved people in our world today, and we live in a world that has had slavery around for generations and generations – how can we possibly ever end it?”

The thing is – we cannot end slavery. We are sinful, greedy people. Only Christ, in his perfect justice, can end slavery. But don’t let that paralyze you into immobilization! We are people called by God to seek justice! Instead of telling ourselves “we can end slavery,” we can be assured by this: “God will end slavery, and he calls us to action.”

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV)

How is God calling you to seek justice?

And as you – as the video says – “ask these why questions,” how can we at Restorations help you discern how God might be calling you to help women escape commercial sexual exploitation?

Contact us: info@restorationscanada.org

The Light of Hope

  
I am not a fan of winter – never have been, and likely never will be. The cold of our southern Ontario winters has me longing for milder spring and (better yet) warm summer.

This past weekend, we had above seasonal temperatures. It was glorious. Most winters, I find that I have to make extra effort to look after my mental health; something about winters just puts me in a funk. But this past weekend – as I spent time outdoors basking in the sun and milder temperature, thinking about my spring garden and summer barbeques – a word kept popping into my mind: hope. We all know that winter will not last forever, it is a fleeting season that comes and passes. And as spring draws nearer, we are blessed with a smattering of days with above seasonal temperatures that help sustain us as we make it through the rest of the season. The light at the end of my cold, wintery tunnel is knowing that a more joyful season (at least for me – apologies to those who may love winter but despise the heat of summer!) is waiting for me a couple of weeks down the road.

And while I was thinking of this hope, I couldn’t help but wonder “what glimmers of hope do victims of commercial sexual exploitation see to help them get through their season of suffering? What is their light at the end of the tunnel?”

We know that in Canada, services and supports specific to the unique needs of the commercially sexually exploited are few and far between. Don’t get me wrong, there are many wonderful people and organizations doing incredible work across this country to serve those who are commercially sexually exploited! But we also know that the need far outweighs what is currently available in our country.

We at Restorations want to be a glimmer of hope. We want to be a light at the end of their tunnel, a place for them to heal after their season of despair as they enter into a new season of joy, peace, love and hope.

Beyond being a physical place of hope, we at Restorations bask in the truth that Christ is our ultimate hope. Regardless of the season of suffering we are enduring – illness, economic difficulties, depression, exploitation, sadness, loneliness, etc. – we take comfort in the fact that Christ is our help, our shield, our refuge.

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. ~ Psalm 33:20 (NIV)

You are my refuge and shield; I have put my hope in your word. ~ Psalm 119:114 (NIV)

You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. ~ Job 11:18 (NIV)

Author: Jennifer Lucking