Stories of Dressember || Angela

My mom's friend unrelentingly encouraged me to go to this talk at the Museum of Tolerance of Los Angeles, telling me I can get community service hours if I just sat through it. The talk was called, "In The Face of Tyranny, I Will Not Be Silent: 'Comfort Women' Survivors Speak." Being a senior in high school dealing with major senioritis, I thought to myself "I don't know why she's so adamant on my going to this, but I could benefit from getting those hours."

I sat through a documentary where I watched grandmas speak about their experiences during their adolescence...how they were chained to the walls of windowless cement cells, with lines of men bolstered by battle spirit waiting outside of their doors. I saw grainy black and white photos of pregnant girls standing at the edge of cliffs, who were actually taking turns to fall off the cliff. The main speaker, a Korean grandma and a survivor of the institutionalized WWII brutality named Kim Bok Dong, explained the girls could no longer withstand the *years* of physical abuse and rape, shame from their cultural beliefs, and fear of the Japanese soldiers finding out their pregnant state.

By having my mom's friend convince me to come to the Museum of Tolerance, little did I know that God was answering my prayers of why I had to witness a loved one go through something I wish didn’t happen in our own home. As strange as it may sound, even now I would sometimes ask Him, "Why was I not the victim?... If the fear from that event still lingers, how much harder must it be for the victim?" I feel lucky that I'm not the victim, but I know I don't deserve to be the lucky one.

At the end of the talk, Kim Bok Dong left me with a message I could never forget: "I speak today because this is not a thing of the past. I use my voice for those out there who cry out for help but their voices are silenced."

Ever since then, God put in my heart to start a club on campus my freshman year that addresses this modern-day, worldwide dilemma. I learned of how the Islamic State raids the villages of the Yazidi ethnic-minority people, to only be sold into a mass human-market trade. How in the Red Light District, girls starting at an age you wouldn't dare to imagine are forced into dresses against their will and forced to fulfill the lustful desires of others. God has opened many doors for me, including the opportunity to co-lead the club and host prayer meetings with my sister-in-Christ Olivia Park (who also has a Dressember post on this blog). Through that opportunity, we've ended up reading many articles that have provided glimpses of hope, such as a former pimp named James Nelson starting an anti-trafficking campaign in his barbershop to raise awareness to his customers that buying sex and consuming pornography drive human trafficking, success stories of slaves’ rights being upheld in court and the slave owners’ facing legal consequences through the efforts of IJM workers, and more.

This is why I’ve been wearing a dress everyday for the month of Dressember: to remember that though wearing a dress for many of us is a fashion choice, for those out of sight and silenced, it is a symbol of losing their identity and perpetual pain. Everyday I am reminded that God fashioned me to act upon this injustice.

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The very words of Jesus: "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them." ~ Matthew 7:12. To translate this teaching in other words, we are not made to treat our fellow human beings, made in His image, any less than we want to be treated. Yet people's bodies are degraded by each and every day, hour, and second through sexual labor, factory labor, field labor, etc. Even our mundane actions go against his teaching such as insulting someone or assuming and twisting the motives of someone else's unlikable actions. So there are many ways in which we do not reflect God’s justice, but instead of possibly thinking you have to dedicate yourself to fighting against human trafficking, I invite you to this challenge: write or say at least one sentence of prayer about an injustice that affects your everyday living today.  

(P.S. My friend is in need of your support to make it to her annual trip to Nicaragua with CMDA to rescue women and children out of trafficking through House of Hope's vocational rehabilitation program: https://gho.servicereef.com/events/global-health-outreach-2/nicaragua-january-14-212017-sr1362/participants/patbutterfly7)