About the home
Many years ago a missionary that works closely with a day school/orphanage for very poor children and has worked here in Bulgaria for over 20 years, brought the issue to me of girls going missing from this school and the fact that the school ended at 5th grade for the girls. She asked me to help to find a safe place for these girls to go after the 5th grade, which is the worst time to not have accountability and safety for these girls. The age of 11 when they are just beginning to develop and when the marrying age, stealing of brides age and selling of daughters is most prevalent. This comment began my involvement in the issue of trafficking in Bulgaria. I began gathering information, networking with other anti-trafficking organizations in Bulgaria, and most importantly…praying.
We walked the steps each day that God put before us. We created an NGO or foundation to operate legally in Bulgaria, we began to talk with the Set Free Movement in the US, and we began speaking with leadership about how we could implement this prevention/safe home for girls.
Somewhere deep inside, there was a great fear and insecurity in me. I knew that this project was too big for me alone. As we went back to the US in 2015, God began to put on the hearts of several people to come alongside and help. We now have a single lady in her 20’s and a family with 3 girls packing up and moving everything to Bulgaria to help with this project. I am confirmed every day that this is the heart of God. God was beginning to build a team. I knew that this home was a God thing and the pieces of the puzzle He was putting together. I now knew that I was not doing this alone, and God was sending helpers…. but still, something was amiss in my heart.
It became clear in a recent conversation with a colleague that has the same motto as we do, of empowering nationals, that I began to see that in every project we have been involved in, it was a vision/heart of a national. The girl’s home was me. This was going against everything we stand for. This left me unsettled and confused. I prayed and asked God for wisdom. Later, I talked with my very wise 18-year-old daughter about my thoughts and she replied, “You’re going at this alone, Mom, gather the women to come together with you.” This was such simple wisdom on one hand, but not an easy task on the other.
You see, the women in the Roma village culturally aren’t really empowered to have a vision, hear from God, and be empowered to implement such things…especially on this scale. However, I knew the relationship and trust I had built over the years in the community would at least give me a platform to share my heart and ask them to come along for the ride. We are so much more powerful together.
I set up a meeting on a Saturday night…I had only 4 show up, but I wanted fewer and serious rather than many and not. The pastor, his wife, and two young ladies we’d been working with for the last four years in a Bible study and English classes were there. I shared my heart which was everything that I’ve written down here. I said, “I cannot do this alone. I need you. These are your sisters, your neighbors, your friends, your community.” It was such a powerful response afterward that I received. The pastor assured me that they were 100% with me, and would help in any way they could.
We put together a meeting for the next week in Sofia where they would ride with me to a seminar put together just for them to learn all they could about the trafficking issue in Bulgaria. First, I wanted to educate them on the issues, and have them fully understand what is happening across the country in Bulgaria, then speak about what the organizations are doing in Bulgaria to help, and show them that these organizations are run by and championed by almost all women.
I wanted them to see how they can join together to do their part in their communities. They are empowered by:
*educating others by sharing what they had learned,
*showing them that the microenterprise program they are a part of (knitting scarves and hats) gives 20% of all of the proceeds toward funding the girl’s home, and
*by them praying and standing together for this prevention home for girls in our area.
What a powerful moment it was for me to see the Roma women understanding the big picture, joining in the fight, and feeling so needed and valued that their voice, opinion, and agreement counts! We were changing a long-standing tradition that their voice doesn’t matter and they don’t have anything to contribute.
I am so much more content with this project now…. now that I have the nationals on board. I look forward to showing them (in my great humility of inadequacy) to depend on the Lord as we see this project through together. Empowering them to see other women getting vision from the Lord, trusting Him for big things, and implementing projects in a Godly, righteous, and professional manner. What an honor to partner with these great women of God!
Please help us pray. Pray for these women as we partner together for big things.
Pray for me please as I trust God whole-heartedly through this process.
Pray for these young girls that are so vulnerable.
Where there is great need, big trust, a big leap of faith, there is a big God there to show Himself able!