If you take the time to put yourself out there, grand things will happen. A wise man once posed the question, “If there are three frogs on a log, and one decides to jump off, how many frogs are still on the log?”
It was a beautiful Monday morning in January, my three best friends and little brother had come out to visit me in Lubbock Texas to spend New Years with me. We had arrived at our host family’s home the day before and decided to spend the day working on making connections. All of us headed for the local coffee shop called Yellow House. They had a wide assortment of delicious gourmet coffee which for me was a little over whelming. I told the barista to make something special, just as long as it was a black cup of coffee! She brought me out a delicious pour over coffee which blew my mind how fantastic it was.
Throughout the morning we were calling churches, editing blogs, and researching government officials that we could get in contact with. We called Senator Charles Perry’s office and got an appointment to sit down with him on Tuesday morning. We were so excited that we thought to call the House of Representative Dustin Burrow’s office as well to see if we could set something up there too. To our surprise he was able to meet with us Tuesday afternoon! We were all so pumped, hooting and hollering, yet trying to remain humble at the same time.
There was a young lady, about our age, named Jana behind us overhearing our conversation and decided to approach us and figure out what we were all about. Our conversation from that point on began to grow into an immensely beautiful forest. She had been on several cross country bicycle tours herself which allowed her and I to connect immediately. After a while of talking and hanging out it was time for us men to go and get dinner. Jana texted me a couple hours later asking if we wanted to come over on Wednesday for a game night that she was hosting. We told her we would love to but can only come for a short time cause we had a college group to speak at, however we could come after that if they were still hanging out.
Tuesday rolled around and our meeting with the Senator went super well. He allowed us to open the conversation with prayer which set the whole mood of our conversation from the very beginning. We talked about current bills in government that are combating sex trafficking, and who is doing what about this situation. We discussed the disconnect in the church and how often there is a huge disconnect between talking and doing. He brought up a good point stating that there are two things that we need to make that connection, one is faith that God can do it, and the other is the desire to live it out.
In the afternoon we then met with House of Representative Dustin Burrows which went far better then we could have ever expected. It started out with educating Representative Burrows about Domestic Sex Trafficking which triggered his mind to steer the conversation in the direction of the Drug Court system. If you don't know what the Drug Court is, well it is an alternative method of rehabilitating drug addicts through a strict process of accountability. It gives people who struggled with addictions an alternative to being thrown in jail. We discussed the possibility of adding survivors of human trafficking to this drug court system to help them through the rehabilitation process. Many times the kids who are trapped in human trafficking are also heavily addicted to drugs. The Drug Court already has programs in place for veterans with PTSD, juveniles, and families. We just wanted to adapt this system to accommodate survivors of Sex Trafficking. The things we would need to add would be safe housing, proper counselors, funds for relocation, and we need a system in place that identifies these people as victims of sex trafficking as apposed to regular offenders. We also need people who are willing to meet people where they are at, and know that there will need to be a lot of time invested into these survivors lives.
Eventually Representative Burrows got us set up with Judge Reyes who heads up the local Drug Court system so that we could sit in on one of the sessions which would take place on that Thursday. We were able to meet up with Judge Reyes in the morning and talk about how the Drug Court runs which was very insightful. Later, Jana joined us and we sat in on a session which was extremely powerful and encouraging to see the court system work in a powerful way. While we were there the Judge was handing out recognition of encouragement, and also motivation for those who slipped up. Motivation in the sense that if they messed up again they would be put in jail, but for the time being they have to do such and such to prove that they want to be in this program.
A young child no more then eight years old was sitting with his mother, when Judge Reyes passed him he looked up at the Judge and said, “Thank you for saving my moms life.” The whole court room busted into tears. It was already a pretty emotional time because of all the encouragement and motivation to do better, and that little boy was the icing on the cake. The Drug Court posed a sense of belonging, not condemning for our mess ups. Don’t get me wrong, if someone really messed up and didn't want to get help they would reap the consequences. But for those who wanted the help and moral support then the Drug Court was the right place for them.
Seeing this system work the way that it does sparked in us a longing to get survivors of Sex Trafficking into a network like this. I will say this, the Drug Court is something that you will have to experience for your self to see its power.
After the Drug Court system we debriefed with the Judge again and asked some final questions before parting ways. We all headed over to Jana’s house for some food and to hang out with some of her friends from the game night. It was us five guys and four ladies. Our conversation right off the bat was extremely fruitful. I have never experienced a group of people being so open and encouraging with each other. We were able to relay our testimonies and how God got us through the good times and the bad.
We ended up pausing the conversation to go two-stepping at a local country club because that was the original plan. I am really glad that we did because it allowed for our previous conversation to sink in, and we had a blast. I have grown up not really caring what other people think about me which allows me to be me and not be conformed by society. So in this case when we arrived the dance floor was pretty barren with the crowd around the perimeter. I went straight to the dance floor and danced like a fool! I noticed people pointing and laughing, but I didn't care. My friends were more encouraged to join in, which in the end made everyone have a much better time rather then standing awkwardly on the sidelines. We were all laughing and making great memories. Eventually the whole bar was dancing like fools!
In that moment I realized not only the importance of a leader, but almost more important is the first two followers. If I was never joined by anyone to dance I would have just been a weird dude dancing. But as soon as that weird dude is joined it motivates others to join in. It creates momentum because the weird dude is no longer the outsider and it reverses the situation which motivates people to join the movement. I heard a quote that sums it up nicely, “If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that really makes the fire.” We need leaders but their efforts are rendered useless if no one joins them.
As the night progressed on till the stroke of midnight we decided to take the ladies back home. But as soon as we got back to their house the conversation from earlier continued right where it left off as if there was no interruption. However the difference this time which I thought wasn't possible was that our conversation dove even deeper than before. As the sun was creeping up on the horizon we figured we should call it a “night” cause all of us would be parting ways in a couple hours. As we left we knew that our new found friends would progress into a deeply rooted relationship.
If you take the time to put yourself out there, grand things will happen. A wise man once posed the question, “If there are three frogs on a log, and one decides to jump off, how many frogs are still on the log?” There are still three frogs. Just because you decide to do something doesn't mean you have done it. Make the connection between talking and doing.