The founder of Love146, Rob Morris, came to talk at a local church this last weekend and even though I’ve been out of the Love146 loop for a few years now, I jumped on the chance to see him. Every time the other leaders of the Love146 Denver Taskforce and I met with him or he was able to talk with our group back when we were first trying to get it going, we always felt refreshed and invigorated, ready to take this enormous task head-on and that what we were doing was worthwhile, and I think I was hoping to get some of that magic again.
We ended our version of the taskforce back in 2013 (there’s a newer version in existence right now), a few weeks before one of the other leaders had her second child and a little less than a year before I had C. The combined circumstances of being mothers (with more kids on the way) and a lack of continuing interest from those around us were really the main factors in our decision to stop leading the taskforce. But Love146 did and always will hold a very special place in my heart and I love everything they do. I really wish I could be more involved right now.
Rob spoke on the topic of hope, which is ironic because when I was helping at taskforce events, usually at a table where I answered questions about Love146, a question I got quite often was, “why try?” Meaning, why bother fighting this fight because human slavery, especially of this kind, is never going to be eradicated. As long as there’s a demand, there will be a supply. People said it was depressing. People didn’t want to hear about it because it was unpleasant to talk about. People didn’t think it was appropriate to discuss in church. People listened to the stories of these young girls and boys who were forced to have sex over and over and over again each and every night and said, “that’s too bad,” then went about their days because, really, what could they do?
My answer was always, “hope.” The reason I’ve had a passion for this cause ever since I first heard about, and the reason I especially love what Love146 does is because their focus is not on the sad stories of these children and what has happened to them. Instead, they turn to the future and what it has, not only for these children, but also for the many others who may fall into this trap some day. They hold on to hope despite how awful and dark and completely consuming this problem is. Hope and the strong belief that it will be eradicated some day. That it will no longer be a problem in our world. It has never been about simply trying their hardest to do whatever they can. Their ultimate and mighty goal is get rid of it. For good.
We live in a cynical, bitter, negative society and that kind of positive thinking and lofty ideal is rare and usually scoffed at. But I think that’s what I found so refreshing about it. That they hold on to hope and the power of love and all that it can do in a world that finds that type of thinking naive and a complete waste of time.
He offered another view of the idea of hope and why it’s important this weekend by introducing us to the Greek term archegos. He explained that in the olden days (not his term 🙂 ), this was the strongest swimmer on a ship. When the ship was in danger but near land, though not able to get to it for whatever reason, the archegos would tie a rope around his waist and the other end to the ship, then dive into the water (usually in the middle of a storm) and swim as hard as he could to land. Once there, he would tie the rope to a tree or rock or some kind of static object and pull the boat in. Essentially, this one man would risk his life to save all the other sailors on the ship despite how the odds were stacked against him.
What hit me the most about this illustration was that hope, in the case of these children, isn’t just about me and my ideals. It isn’t only about anyone feeling better about themselves or fighting the good fight. It’s also about these young girls and boys (and in some cases, these babies). They are on the ship and we are their archegos. We are their lifelines. And if we give up, if we give in to the cynicism and negativity and the hopelessness, what do they have? Who will throw them a rope when they need it? And who will try and make sure that no more ropes need to be thrown?
Hope isn’t naive and it isn’t a complete waste of time. Hope is the stuff of life. It’s the stuff of love. It’s the stuff that keeps us going when we feel overwhelmed with all the darkness. When we hope together, when we act on that hope and fight for it no matter the odds, we not only make the world a better place for these children, but also for everyone else. Hope isn’t just for people who want to fight these fights. It’s for every single person who has an opportunity to improve the world.
We all need to hold on to this hope together.