We Love These Kids

Q: As a Raise the Standard speaker, what’s your favorite thing about the sessions?

A: “When I ask the kids to raise their hand if they’re feeling a little more hopeful and empowered than they expected they’d feel. And seeing hands go up.”

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Imagine at the age of fourteen you’re told a guest speaker is coming to talk about sexual abuse. You probably hope to sit in the back of the room, hoping to avoid eye contact, or sneak a nap. Or maybe you’d walk in feeling uneasy, or unsure. The best part about our work is how surprised students are about the experience they had with their Raise the Standard speaker.

At first, they walk in quiet, apprehensive, and reserved. Walking out, they feel hopeful, empowered, and encouraged! Sometimes, they even walk out with a high-five, a hug, and best yet: a dance-off.

We’re here to bring tough issues to the table. We talk to students about healthy relationships, sexual abuse, and human trafficking. But we do this through a lense of hopefulness. Students leave feeling they have a part to play in overseeing the justice in their family, school, and community. They leave knowing how they treat people, and treat themselves, is one easy and mindful way to make a positive impact.

This summer we were working with a group of kids through the Family and Children’s Place. The girl group was instructed to write a letter to the younger girls in their lives. You can imagine their surprise when we told them, “Keep this letter for yourself, as a reminder. Even as we get older, and tougher, we should still remember how much we’re worth, remember not to settle, and recognize the treasure you are. At fourteen, and seventeen, you’re still precious and priceless. Even if you don’t always feel like it.” What they wrote to the younger girls in their lives ended up as a reminder for themselves, and it blessed them:

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Students are also embracing the invitation to get involved! The photo below shows one of our breakout groups brainstorming on ways to make an impact this school year. They strategized making posters to spread awareness, and holding a fashion show or bakesale as a fundraiser for Raise the Standard.

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The best is when they invite you to come back, or to stay longer. Last week the kids said, “Are you staying for staff torture day?” They explained, “Every Thursday we get to vote on something, and the staff HAVE to do it! This week we’re throwing water balloons at them!”

Instead of watching, their Raise the Standard speaker requested a trash bag. She fashioned herself a poncho and joined the staff in their “torture”. She said, “It was quite the opposite”.

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We love what we do, and these brief, light-hearted moments foster a safe vulnerability, and trust. It makes a difference when kids feel safe, and connected. This year we walked an eighth grade student to the counseling office to report being sexually abused at home. And we’ve had countless students stay after class to talk to their speaker, or teacher. Tears stream down their face as they process through situations of abuse, even trafficking. Every day is different. Whether it’s laughs and high-fives, or tears releasing students into freedom, this is meaningful work. And we love your students.

This year we already reached 703 students in Louisville, and plan to reach many more this fall semester. Thank you for helping us make this possible.

Conflicting Signs and Fighting Voices - We're here to stay

Sometimes all it takes for us to change course is a sign. A justice oriented group in Louisville doesn’t take this figuratively. In fact, they purchased a billboard to make this sign a reality. And right in time for the Kentucky Derby!

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Part of the mission of the ROCK Cares Foundation is to help women who’ve been sexually trafficked, and those being exploited through the sex industry. Today Kentuckians might spot the words “In God We Trust” imprinted across license plates. This is because of the ROCK Cares Foundation. Years ago they campaigned for this special license plate, and for the sales to benefit nonprofit groups serving these exploited women.

They also organize a monthly prayer night called Warehouse 418. On the first Tuesday of every month the group gathers on 7th street to pray for the area, including those impacted by drugs, alcohol, crime, trafficking, and the like. 7th street used to be home to several “gentlemen’s clubs”. Since the formation of Warehouse 418, the prayer group has witnessed four of these clubs shut down. Today, only a few remain. Between these few clubs now stands a sign, literally, that there is hope for these women. And a way out.

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The surrounding signs are a total paradox to the foundation’s mission. The Foxy Lady sign attracts derby fans to a “wall to wall” party of women, sensual fantasies, drinks and the like. The juxtaposed ROCK billboard says something entirely different. For the very first time, this billboard calls forth in a voice for these women. It offers hope, and maybe even a way out. But first, it offers these women a sign. A literal sign, among many other conflicting voices, that tells them someone loves them. Someone believes in them. Someone is waiting, and praying. And we hope to meet them very soon.

Interested in attending the next prayer meeting? Join us!

Warehouse 418

6pm, every first Tuesday of the month

3214 7th street, Louisville KY

The Heart of Man

NEW TO NETFLIX! Here's our take on the film from when it hit the theaters last year. Now, though, it's made available to enjoy from home.

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The film launches the audience into a scenic journey, taking mankind to a distant land decorated with rugged mountains and cliffs, and lined by a shore of crashing waves. Taken aback by the creative dive into the fictitious tale, the audience may be surprised by how far they, themselves, come by the end of the film. Without ever leaving their seats.

“... the greatest unexplored territory in the universe is actually inside of me. And for most of us, that is true. We have not started the journey inward.” 

Tony Anderson, Executive Producer and Composer.

The Heart of Man is said to be a retelling of the prodigal son, with a strategic focus on the Father’s heart during the Son’s broken journey. The film had to be given a new category by the Motion Picture Association of America for it’s unique blend of fictional storytelling and real life interviews. Featured in the interviews includes Pastor Chad Veach of Zoe church in LA, Jackie Hill-Perry, spoken word artist, and William P. Young, author of The Shack. These testimonies release years of sexual brokenness and the subsequent confusion of the Father’s heart for his children. Creatively, the silent fable follows these interviews with heart wrenching visuals, giving new life to the legendary parable of the prodigal son and the themes of identity, brokenness, and shame.

In a podcast with Michael John Cusick, Tony Anderson explains his tectonic shift from legalistic breakdown to relational breakthrough, “I stopped paying attention to my track record with porn, with sexually acting out, and with my behavior, and I started moving closer towards the belief that there is a God… who loved me, and who wanted to have a conversation with me that had nothing to do with my behavior.”

The Heart of Man premiered nationwide two weeks ago, and will reappear once more in select theaters on Tuesday, October 17th, before digital release. The film is for both men and women, and compelling to all types of brokenness. Interested? Discover a showing near you: https://heartofmanmovie.com/

 

* Podcast:

Season 3 Episodes 1 and 2

Restoring the Soul, Michael John Cusick.

http://restoringthesoul.podbean.com/2017/08/

This post originally appeared on the Refuge for Women National blog here.