No more bubble.

Over the past couple of weeks I have learnt something about myself.

I know too much.

I know too much about stuff that others don’t want to know. The sex trade, drug addiction, trafficking, lives lived in the darkness. The horrors of abject poverty. The daily fight for survival. The daily fear of today being the last day.

I know more than anybody should.

Days like today I long for that bubble that “regular” people have. That secure, safe, oblivious bubble that allows the horror to stay hidden and ignored. You know the bubble?!

Over the past couple of weeks we have been quiet about an unfolding story. The abduction and murder of Siam Lee has rocked our team to its very core.

But I’m not going to talk about Siam. I’m not ready, my words haven’t settled into cohesive sentences yet. I’m still too broken.

What I am going to share with you is the reality of a crisis that we are facing. Not just here in Durban, but the world over.

Human trafficking has become somewhat of a buzz phrase over the past few years. We follow the Instagram accounts, we go on the marches , we buy the shirts and take a selfie with black tape over our mouths. We share the posts of international campaigns. All of this is worthy, helpful and brings general awareness.

Note “general”

General understanding is ok. I mean not knowing or understanding the complex, means that the bubble stays intact. Lives are able to continue without a requirement of action.

Ahhh the sweet sweet bubble.

The environment in which we are working has been described as a “dark underworld”, I disagree. Is it dark? HECK YES! The darkest possible, is it an underworld? No not really. The term “underworld” suggests secrecy, this life isn’t secret. It’s laid out for all who care to see. It’s daily life for thousands in our city. It’s right there on the surface for those who are willing enough to see.

There has been uproar over Siam and her life. There has been anger and judgement towards her mother. Social media loves to attack the victim. Keyboard warriors with fast fingers and little knowledge, sitting in their well protected bubble.

Every single day our ladies face rape, abuse and death. Every client possibly the one who ends their fragile life. Severe PTSD, trauma related addiction and fear are the norm for the majority of our ladies. There is no “underworld” here, its life of the broken and abused.

It’s right there laid out for all who care to see. Take a drive through our city streets. Look through the bubble, see them.

See them as He sees them. Women who were created for more than this. Women who were once that beautiful, perfect newborn who were born for greatness, but never had the opportunity to walk in it.

Ask yourself, “do I really care?”

Everyone likes to think that they do, but when the s$&t hits the fan what happens? When Siam’s case has run its course, then what?

How many are truly willing to volunteer to pop their own bubble for the sake of others?

I’m not talking to those who are already fighting, those who are walking the walk. We see you we love you.

I’m talking directly to those who love to leave their social media comments. Those who are currently outraged over Siam. Those who constantly say they want to help but never fully commit.

Are you ready to fight?

Are you willing to see?

Consider those two questions very carefully because once you see it, it is with you. Once you know too much there is no going back to the bubble.

Oh bubble how I miss you.

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Feeling

We are currently working on a case that is so painful and so dark. I’m usually quite good at protecting my energy and my heart, knowing when to step back and remove myself from a situation or person. But this case has me fighting to keep my heart in tact.

Sleep has been evasive for a week now and I’m somewhat of a zombie 😂🙈 but I KNOW “for such a time as this”.

I ask that you would lift us up. Martin is being amazing as always, empowering me to walk in this calling, he’s so hands on with the children and the home. He knows that right now I need to be working this case and he has been gentle and thoughtful, letting me sleep in the mornings, caring for the boys while I spend hours in strategy meetings.

My other team member who is involved in this case is also being amazing, calling me and checking on my heart, sending me scriptures and words of encouragement.

We know that He loves these girls and His heart is for them to be found and restored.

Please will you lift us all up. Please pray for protection and peace for our family and for the whole team involved. Please pray for wisdom for the decision makers as to our way forward. Please lift up all of the girls who are involved, especially those who are still held captive.

Please pray that His will be done and that freedom reigns.

For me please pray for energy and a clear mind. Please pray for my heart as it has been shattered daily for a week now. Please pray that the fire in me continues to burn strong and fierce.

And please pray for my little family as I fight for the lives of others. Pray for provision for us as we try to keep our heads above water financially, as we prepare for the boys to go back to school in a few days time.

I know that I HAVE to feel all the feels so that I can understand the hearts of these precious girls, but man it’s hard.

Merry Christmas one and all!

Merry Christmas! We would like to say thank you to the family and friends who made it possible for my kids to have gifts this year. You guys are such a blessing.

Being in full time ministry is a sacrifice for our whole family. Most of the time Mart and I go without so that our kids can have. Even just on a daily basis. Our kids have never had the things that their friends have had and yet they have never complained, they are such amazing boys. This Christmas we have felt so loved by those of you who have sent gifts and funds for our children. Your generosity has made Christmas possible and we are beyond grateful.

THANK YOU,THANK YOU,THANK YOU! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ Merry Christmas ğŸŽ„ğŸŽ

”Tis the season, part 2…

Last night three of the @hopes_anchor_durban team hit the strip with beautiful Christmas gift bags for all of our girls.

There were squeals of delight when they rummaged through and found yummy chocolate from a friend in Germany 🇩🇪 (yes she specifically went out and bought 50 bars of chocolate for our girls and shipped them to us for the bags!!!)

There was also toiletries, lotion, nail polish, more chocolate and face cloths. So many items that our precious girls can not afford to buy. And then on top of a bag each they also received a brand new pair of flip flops.

Their joy was so beautiful.

And then our joy was put out when girls pealed back their clothing and showed us horrific bruises and welts. A number of them have been preyed upon by certain men who are taking great pleasure in causing as much pain as possible on the sex workers that they pick up. Our darling Yolande strangled and raped on the beach, Thobeka kid napped raped at gun point, beaten and dumped, Lulu kicked, punched and raped and left at the side of the road on a busy highway.

The police throwing them out of the station because they are sexworkers and they “asked” for it. No case opened. No sympathy or compassion. No JUSTICE.

Just kicked out onto the street to try and survive.

There are so many things happening with our girls that I can not share on social media, but please be praying for their protection.

Please pray that Father would speak to their hearts, heighten their intuition, surround them with protective angles.

As Christmas draws closer please pray for their hearts. There were many tears last night and ours flowed with theirs.

As our family prepares for Christmas our thoughts are with the families and individuals in our lives who do not have the opportunity to celebrate.

For those who would like to support our family over the holiday season please donate to our PayPal account. Account name downseyluff@aol.com

Christmas is very financially tight for is so we appreciate every gift.

Thank you for helping us to help them.

#hopesanchor #weseeyouweloveyou

‘Tis the season.

Well Christmas is almost here and 2017 is drawing to a close. The children finished school two days ago and are easing into the summer holidays. They are however still waking up at 5am!!!!

All three of them finished the school year with a bang, and their reports and grades have blown us away, we couldn’t be more proud.

We aren’t sure how we will make it through the season in an apartment rather that a spacious farm, but this Mama is trying to get creative and have given them craft supplies today and told them to make something to put on the tree 🌲😂

I’m not at home today so who knows what kind of mess I will come home too!!! Might have shot myself in the foot with this idea 🙈🙄 Tonight we will decorate the tree and put on Christmas music and I am determined to make it feel Christmasy even though it’s boiling hot!

Yesterday ministry stepped up a notch when I sat down with a victim of sex trafficking and started to document her story. Every day Father shows me more and more how He is orchestrating our daily walk in this calling. He proves His love not only for our family but also for the women to whom we are called, on a daily basis. Every little detail He is in control and I spend my days blown away by His love, grace and sovereignty.

We (I😂) am learning daily to trust Him with it all. As we stand we do not know how Christmas will happen this year, but we DO know that He knows, and we can find rest in that knowledge. We would love to be in the U.K. with our family, but this year that is not an option, and so we will make the most of what and who we have here.

We so appreciate all your ongoing love, support and prayers for our family and the ministry. Through you guys, God has kept us here and paid our bills for a whole year now, we are blown away by this. Thank you for it all.

We pray that your Christmas will be a time of fun, blessing and peace .

For those who would like to support us over this Christmas period you can do so at PayPal. Our account is downseyluff@aol.com

Thank you for your love.

Love from the Downs family.

Not Christmas

This time of year is a real battle for me.

As Christmas draws near I realize just how lonely this journey is. There’s no chill in the air, dark evenings or any chance of snow.

There’s no Christmas markets with hot cocoa and roasted chestnuts. No late night Christmas shopping, bustling in and out of the shops, Christmas carols being sung or a Salvation Army Santa ringing his bell. There’s no hunting for the perfect tree, cutting it down and carrying it home.

There’s no family fun nights, no games of Uno with my siblings, or cuddling on the couch watching the SnowMan.

When we said “yes” to the call I didn’t realize what I was sacrificing. And this time of year it hits real hard.

When I committed to carrying freedom to the most captive I didn’t take into consideration the painful and lonely path I was taking my family on. Tonight I am painfully lonely and I just want to pack up my family and take them far away from here.

Far from the gun shots, the robbery and highjacking that has happened in our neighborhood tonight.

Tonight I want a normal life.

Tonight I don’t want to be a missionary.

But tomorrow I will wake up again knowing that I am called. That we are called. And I will try and make Christmas special for my babies. I will try and make it better than last Christmas.

I will do what I can. And I will continue to speak and bring freedom to those to whom I am called. Because I am strong enough, and I am qualified enough. Because He chose me for all of this life.

#livingbyfaith #missionarylife #livinginafrica

The Roaring Battle Cry and the Still Small Voice.

This past week has been one of extreme highs and devastating lows.

Monday and Tuesday seemed relatively normal, or at least our version of normal. Kids at school, doing amazingly well in their end of year exams, me running Hope’s Closet and Mart working on a long term vision, doing all the running around and basically keeping life running smoothly.

Then along came Wednesday. Precious’ discharge day. The day that the next step of her recovery began. Candice, Tracy and I met at the AIDS center early to help her pack up and start the transition.

Our ladies don’t do well with change and we could feel resistance from Precious right away, but she complied and after the long drive to the Mission she settled in and is taking the bull by the horns, as only Precious could 😁. She has a very long journey ahead but we have a feeling that she is going to push through.


Before leaving the AIDS center Candice and I made a desperate plea on behalf of Nosipho. We urgently needed a bed at the unit for her and we knew that there is always a waiting list for a bed.

We prayed, we called our prayer partners to pray and we took a chance. Favor fell! The Sister in charge decided that we could trade Precious for Nosipho! So on Wednesday Precious left, they changed the bed linen ready for Nosipho to take her place.

I love how He loves His daughters.

Thursday consisted of Candice and I running around making contact with NGOs that might be able to help us in the work that we do. One thing that we soon realized was that there is zero support or answers for the women to whom we are called.

Frustration is something our whole team is learning to surrender at the feet of Jesus.

Frustration/anger is a double edged sword.

On one hand it pushes us forward, ignites a fire in our bones. Causes a battle cry to rise from our innermost being. It brings determination and resolution to keep fighting and pushing for an answer.

On the other hand it can cause resentment, anxiety and despair, all things damaging.

We have to be so protective of our hearts, minds and spirits. We have to practice self care and take time to process. To remind ourselves that we do not have to carry the load. Sometimes we (I) forget.

Thursday evening was one of light and dark. Nosipho came to us not knowing that her life was about to change. She sunk onto the bench and rested her head on Candice’s shoulder. I knelt on the ground in front of her and took her hands in mine.

” How many nights have you been sleeping outside?” I ask.

“I’ve been outside for five days. I’m so tired and sore. I just want to sleep.”

” What would you say if I told you that last night was the last time you will ever sleep rough again?”

At which point she breaks down sobbing, falls into my arms and whispers “thank you ” over and over.

As the rest of our girls come to us Nosipho shares with them how her life is about to change. My heart broke as I watched their reactions. First joy that their friend is getting the help that she so desperately needs, and then extreme sadness that they were not going with her.

Over the past few weeks there has been a shift in the ministry. A shift in who Father is bringing to us. We used to have a large number of sex workers who were somewhat “high class”. Girls who were still in ” good condition “. But recently those girls have been replaced with the most desperate, the most broken, the most addicted, the most vulnerable. Every week they come , starving and in pain. Their desperation hits at the very core.

T.K dying from AIDS and malnutrition. Mbali still a child, victim of sex trafficking. Yvonne fighting for survival for herself and her 2 year old son. Beaten by a client. Kelly “spiking” heroin in order to forget. Zama victim of abuse since childhood, selling her body because she has no other option.

And Nosipho, our darling. Now safe and on the road to recovery. She was weeks away from death. Now embracing her new future. As we watched them all turn to her and hug her goodbye I broke.

Overwhelming despair, pain, sorrow and brokenness took over my entire being.

Nosipho climbed into Candice’s car ready for the drive to the Respite unit. And I climbed into Karen’s car and lost all control. A deep agonizing mourning wail. A cry that I have never cried before. Trying to control it for the sake of my team mates was impossible, thankfully they get it, and they get me. As I arrived home I bypassed Martin and the shower and went straight to my bed, pressed my face into my pillow and screamed. I couldn’t stop. I screamed and screamed. The anger, frustration and grief flooding out. A battle cry from the depths.

For a few days I fought the anger and despair. I couldn’t align the pain and the promises of a Father who loves His daughters. I couldn’t feel Him, His love felt distant, unreachable. I spent time alone, self caring, seeking, re-energizing. For three days all I felt was grief, despair and pain.

And then came the dawn. A still small voice, “I am here and I am with them.”

I am left wondering if the darkness and despair that I felt was just a glimpse into how our girls feel daily, or maybe it was how the Father feels over the pain of His beloved.

Either way the dawn came. It was a sweet relief. I am forever changed.

Psalm 30:11 You did it: You changed wild lament into whirling dance. You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wild flowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about You. God, my God. I can’t thank you enough.

I’m not much of a whirling dancer but I sure am thankful for His still small voice.

To support our family in the work that we do please go to PayPal account downseyluff@aol.com

this account helps with our day to day living costs

Or to http://www.justgiving.com/kingsroadchurch

this account helps with our rent and car payments which come to £600 per month.

We appreciate all of your love, prayers and generous support. We can’t do this without you.

The Downs Family x