From “Chuck” to Changing the World
When I was 13, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV after 8:30 pm. My best friend, however, did. One day, she told me about a new show called Chuck and convinced me it was worth watching. So one night a week I would turn off all the lights in our front lounge, turn the television onto the lowest volume and sit in the corner and watch Chuck. And I loved it! Seven years later my three siblings and my Dad have all watched the show, and my Mum actually started season four today!
So what does Chuck have to do with changing the world? Well I watched the show again in the summer of 2014 after I graduated high school, and decided to see what else the main actor, Zachary Levi, had acted in. What I learnt was that each year, on the same weekend of San Diego Comic Con, Zac would run a smaller convention type thing called Nerd HQ. It was full of dance parties, fun, games, and panels. These panels involved celebrities sitting down in front of a small audience and answering questions for an hour or so. What was so great about that was they were live streamed, meaning I could watch them from my house in New Zealand! The coolest thing of all, though, about Nerd HQ, was that the whole weekend was focused on raising money for Operation Smile – an organisation which fixes the cleft lips and pallets of children in underdeveloped countries, giving them the ability to smile! Isn’t that awesome? I think so.
So at 4 am on a Friday morning in July 2014, I woke up to watch Zac’s first NerdHQ panel. And it was worth every second of missed sleep. It was full of cool questions and laughs, but also a lot of wisdom, encouragement and inspiration – the dude is pretty onto it and clearly loves God and loves people.
Anyway, I wasn’t even there but I watched a bunch of panels that weekend, and they left be feeling really inspired. It’s weird (in a really good way), but Nerd HQ left me really encouraged me to find something bigger than myself to be a part of, and to contribute more of myself to helping other people. But at that time I had just lost a close friend unexpectedly, I was playing first division hockey for the first time, and I was busy with assignments and really just found a whole lot of excuses to do nothing, so pushed the idea to the side – it was there still, but it wasn’t my focus.
Just like that, July 2015 rolled around, and NerdHQ happened once again. 2015 was just as good, but this time the same idea wasn’t just put in my head, but was planted pretty firmly in my heart. So that Sunday night I prayed to God, and asked Him to show me where and who I could help. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a quick or crazy response or anything – I mean I’m a 20 year old university student living in a city of 80,000 people at the bottom of the world! I’m fairly involved in my community, but I hadn’t thought much of serving beyond that. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
That Wednesday, a post popped up on my Facebook news feed from Destiny Rescue. Destiny Rescue is an incredible organisation committed to rescuing, restoring, protecting, and empowering young girls who have been sex slaves throughout Asia. My mate Philly had spent some time with Destiny Rescue in Thailand a few months previously and was the one who alerted me to the Facebook page that I had ‘liked’ and then basically forgotten about. This post, however, caught my eye. A young girl had just been rescued that was about to give birth to twins. She needed a Caesarean and needed $5000 ASAP to pay for it, so Destiny Rescue appealed on their Facebook page for help. For some reason (which I’m pretty sure now was God), I felt like I should help. I only had $10 to give, so I chucked it through and thought that would be it.
But the very next day, I was studying on campus when I received a phone call. It was Lisa from Destiny Rescue thanking me for my donation and calling to tell me that the young woman had had her operation and she and her babies were all happy and healthy. My heart literally leapt for joy – it was such a good feeling being even the tiniest part of that! Anyway Lisa and I chatted on the phone for a few more minutes about Destiny Rescue, about what they do and about what I do. She let me know that if I had any questions or wanted to be come involved with Destiny Rescue, I was free to call or text her. I thanked her and went back to my study, wondering if this was a super fast answer to my prayer. I talked to a close friend about it, researched the organisation and prayed some more. I decided that I would use the weekend to think about becoming involved.
That Sunday, we had a guest speaker at our church. Crazily, he was a detective with the New Zealand Police who had started up an agency called Nvader – an organisation of detectives and police using their skills to rescue girls and arrest their oppressors in the sex trafficking industry. I brought the guy’s book – ‘God in a brothel” and talked to him about the human trafficking industry, and about Destiny Rescue. He signed my book with two words – “Be Dangerous”. It was at that point I decided I was going to do something.
So I did! On the way home from church I texted Lisa about volunteering as a Destiny Rescue advocate. After more phone calls, research, and prayer, I filled out an advocate application form, which was approved two weeks ago. I have become one of about 20 NZ advocates for Destiny Rescue, meaning that it is now my responsibility to hold events, raise awareness, and fundraise for this organisation that is just as passionate as I am about rescuing girls and ending human trafficking. This week I’m going to plan my very first event and begin this part of my journey. October 18 is world anti-slavery day, so I’m going to plan also to spend that day doing something big to raise awareness of the human trafficking industry, to show others that they too can make an impact, and that if we all find something in this world that we are passionate about fixing, perhaps we can make this world a slightly better place for those who are suffering the most.
I’ve decided to record this in a blog because I want to share how this all started. I have no idea what is going to happen next, how ‘successful’ I will be, and where this journey is going to take me. I might not have the money or time to go to Thailand myself, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be any help. I know this role as an advocate is going to be very challenging, because I have never done anything like this before, and I’m not very good at coming up with ideas, but I know that God has led me to this place to make a difference, so that’s what I’m going to do, one small step at a time.
I’m also writing this because I want you to join me! Find something you care about in the world, wherever that may be, or however big or small it might be, and step up and do something about it. Most of you who read this post are probably incredibly blessed – I know I am. But there are so many people like you and me who need help, and it’s our job to help them. If we don’t step up, who will? Let’s all take a chance and change the world.
Isaiah 6:8 NIV
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying “whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Matthew 25:40 NIV
The King will reply “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”