As we are only days away from Priceless 2013, our 3rd annual dessert fundraiser to combat human trafficking, I have been remiss in not giving greater praise and honour due to God. This event has been running in its current form since February 12, 2011 and it is by God's amazing grace that it continues to grow and spread, both in numbers at our event and in people joining the cause to eradicate human trafficking.
In human terms, this shouldn't be possible, it was after all just a dessert party held in a girl's basement for friends. It never should have grown into something so big. People will say that it's because I'm a strong leader, because I network well, because I am a good salesperson and can get people on board, or because I've just plain worked hard. The truth is, it's none of those things. Left to my own devices it would fall apart. Because even though I'm an organized person in theory (and at work), I'm a bit of a disorganized mess when it comes to my own life. I have tons of lists and files documenting every aspect of Priceless, but the truth is that it's beyond me and I get overwhelmed. When I get overwhelmed, I hide, and when I hide...things don't happen.
But God knows the value of each life and he is a God of justice and he calls us, his children, to seek justice on behalf of those who are oppressed, defenseless, the orphans and the widows (and the prostituted women, the enslaved children and families and those who are sold repeatedly for forced labour and sex). Because my God is big and not because of anything I have done, my God, the amazing Creator of the universe and of each individual in it, the sovereign Lord, the Great I AM, has seen fit to bless this endeavour. And I need to tell you just some of the ways he has done that...
Last summer I was having a girls night with 3 of my girlfriends when the topic of Priceless came up and one friend asked what exactly human trafficking was. I was a little surprised as I've been friends with these girls for years and this has been my passion, at least as long as I have known them. At first I was discouraged that she didn't know what I'd been working so hard to fight, but then I realized (later, of course!) what God was doing. After telling her about the reality of human trafficking in Canada, I sent her some videos and links about human trafficking in general. She then shared those with her mom and soon after, I was invited by her mom to speak at the kick-off ladies breakfast at a local church. Blessing number one!
As a result of speaking at the breakfast and sharing the truth of human trafficking, the women's Bible study decided to allocate their tithes for the year to the work of Priceless Hamilton. Blessing number two!
Years ago I rented from a family in my old church and through that long-ago created friendship, my friends introduced me to a pretty amazing gal, my beloved 'sister' Sarah. Sarah and her fiance, Pete are incredibly gifted in graphic design, video and all things arts (basically everything I'm not). Sarah and Pete graciously and so generously offered their talents to Priceless Hamilton in the way of designing our promotional materials, creating a website, designing a t-shirt and a cookbook and basically getting us online and out there. Blessing number three!
Our online presence really boosted the profile of Priceless Hamilton and even got us invited to a few conferences, including the Justice Summit in Philadelphia (we didn't go, but how neat that people in Philly know that we exist...and how humbling!). Blessing number four!
I was again invited back to speak at the ladies breakfast for their Valentines event, as a way of promoting our March 2 fundraiser. Blessing number five!
And because social media is the way it is and my God is so big, he answered a miracle for our coffee situation. We were under the impression that we had confirmed our provider of coffee for the event and found out 2 weeks prior that the company that had hoped to help us, was no longer able. We received this unfortunate news the night before I was to speak at the ladies breakfast. The morning of the breakfast came and the wife and co-owner of Red Hill Coffee Trade approached me at the end of my brief presentation and quite simply asked "would you like coffee, and how much?" I was blown away, because not 12 hours before we were wondering how we were going to provide coffee to our anticipated 200 guests. Rachel told me that she heard through the grapevine that I was putting on this amazing event again and that I would be speaking at her church's ladies breakfast, and so that's why she came (with young children and her own business, she doesn't always get to make it out - but she made the effort this particular week, so we could connect). The thing to realize here is that RHCT has donated for the previous 2 years, so she was surprised that we hadn't contacted her. I explained our situation and she said that she would love to help us out and fighting human trafficking is what she is most passionate about. Praise God, blessing number six!
One of our guest speakers, Jennifer of Walk With Me, is also helping organize a forum on human trafficking for local NGOs the night before Priceless (see Defend Dignity event page). She generously offered us a place at the event as a way to promote the March 2 fundraiser. Blessing number seven!
The hall that we are renting from is now run by a Christian organization, but had a dark history before it went through a beautiful restoration process. Prior to its current state, it had victims of human trafficking held captive in its basement. The organization that runs it, Homestead Christian Care, wants to make it affordable to people to rent - so this in itself is a blessing. But then, I got an email a few days ago advising that they were going to charge us the weekday flat rate for a host, instead of the typical weekend hourly rate. Blessing number eight!
The week before Priceless, I went to the Alliance Against Modern Slavery in Toronto with a couple friends. At the end of the event I had the opportunity to speak to a few leaders of NGOs in the area and hand out those awesome postcards (designed by blessing number 3, Sarah). I had the privilege of speaking with an amazing organization that calls itself a "capacity builder" and may in the future be on a podcast, speaking about what Priceless is, why I fight human trafficking and this...humbles me, and moves me to tears. To think that I have been asked to speak publicly about what comes so naturally to me is beyond words. Blessing number nine!
As a result of speaking at the ladies breakfast again, I have set up a coffee meeting to chat with one of the women who was in attendance whose company works with organizations like Priceless Hamilton in fundraising. Blessing number ten!
A friend of mine who is a server at a high-end restaurant had offered to help, but found out he had to work that night. While we were on the phone, he asked his boss if he could please have the night off to help out with this worthwhile cause and was given the whole night off. Who does that? God. So now I have a professional server, with amazing skill, who will be overseeing the servers and working with one of his own co-workers, another friend, who is overseeing the kitchen. This is going to be amazing and professional. Blessing number eleven!
I have received baking donations from complete strangers who have heard about our event through friends. Blessing number twelve!
And since it's a dessert themed evening, let's wrap it up with a bakers' dozen blessing. I was stressed out because I didn't think I had enough volunteers to help, I put out a call at a couple Bible study groups and I now have an army of volunteers, who are travelling from many far away cities to help out, to learn about human trafficking and to just serve because there's a need. As a Christian I am so thankful for the blessing that community is and for the friends that God has brought into my life. Blessing number thirteen, a complete bakers' dozen!