’Break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am, for your kingdom’s cause…’
I remember looking around as 10,000 of us worshipped in Soul Survivor’s big top, suddenly aware of those words and how dangerous they were to sing. Had anyone actually considered what would happen if God took us up on the offer? What if these thousands of hands weren’t just raised in momentary enthusiasm but were willing to get dirty and reach out to the lost, hurting and broken?
A few months later I experienced that heartbreak for myself as I was exposed to the shocking reality of human trafficking. Angry tears rolled down my cheeks as I heard Christine Caine, founder of the anti-trafficking A21 Campaign, tell the story of a young Russian girl who had been trapped in prostitution for many years. I was outraged to hear that in my life-time there were more slaves than there ever had been in the history of mankind, ashamed by my own ignorance and convicted that unless the Church woke up and took a stand, my generation would be forever tarnished with the black mark of human trafficking. We’d go down in history as the ones who silently stood by while the sale of God’s children became the fastest growing criminal activity in the world.
So some friends and I started conspiring with Jesus. We researched, held cake sales, spoke in assemblies and youth groups - anything we could do to get the word out and raise some cash in the process. The more I prayed the more my heart broke for the girls of Eastern Europe, found in almost every red light district in the world.
It was this broken heart that led me to spend the last year living and studying in Moscow. While I was there God really began to open my eyes to the complexity of the trafficking issue in a nation so beautiful but broken after years of political terror and turmoil. Under the title of an English teacher, I was granted access to an orphanage for a few hours each week and able to gradually build trust and form relationships with the kids there.
As always, it’s the children who suffer most in a society gripped by poverty and addiction. Conservative estimates suggest that Russia has around 2 million children growing up in the neglected and inadequately funded state orphanages. When these children ‘graduate’ at 16, the lucky ones are allocated shabby, run-down apartments. Ostracised by society and unable to cope outside the institution, the boys quickly turn to drink, drugs and crime while one in three girls walk straight out of the orphanage gates into the arms of awaiting pimps. And no one even bats an eyelid.
I’m not saying that we all have to pack up, move to Russia and set about turning brothels and drug dens into safe houses of prayer (though if anyone else fancies giving that a crack do get in touch). For some of us it will mean staying exactly where we are and asking God to open our eyes to the absence of light all around us. But if we’re serious about this Jesus stuff our worship can’t begin and end with raised hands as the music blares out in the big top; we’ve got to be willing to get our hands dirty and hearts broken.
So I finish with a challenge. I challenge us to be forever known as the generation who dared. Dared to laugh, dared to cry, dared to dream and dared to dance like no other before us. And if they call us crazy and ask us why - we can always just blame it on that heart breaker Jesus.