In her book Birthing the Miraculous, Heidi Baker writes, “The Lord is looking for those who are so in love with Him that they will say yes when they are wooed and still say yes when great sacrifice is required”. When I said “yes” to ISM and to 6 months serving in Cambodia, I was filled with excitement and anticipation. When I said “yes” to quitting my job, spending most of my savings, and packing my bags for a place unknown, I was also filled with some fear. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know why God had called me to this place at this time, but I was certain that he had.
My month of training with ISM in Thailand was incredible. I felt prepared for ministry in Cambodia and excited for what was to come. My “yes” was certain and palpable. In Cambodia I served with Daughters of Cambodia, an NGO that empowers survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation through alternative employment opportunities. My role with Daughters was as an Assistant Operations Manager for one of the restaurant/spas.
My first few months in Cambodia were difficult. Although I loved Daughters, I was sometimes frustrated with my role as I felt like I was essentially managing a restaurant and doing customer service, something I did not like to do. Another of other factors left me feeling discouraged and frustrated. My “yes”, while still there, was losing its heart and meaning. As the halfway point of my time in Cambodia neared, I decided I had to make a choice. I could choose to just get through the next three months, or I could choose to fight for joy and thrive in the plan that God had for me. This wasn’t easy- I truly had to fight and struggle some days. Some days my “yes” had a bit more grit to it than sparkle. However, the more I fought for joy, the easier it became. God filled me with a deep love for Cambodia, its people, and specifically the girls I was working with. God showed me that my role managing the restaurant gave me an opportunity to live out each day with these girls and to encourage and support them in such practical ways. I started to see how I could use my skills and experience as a caseworker on a daily basis, and was even able to help train the Khmer manager with some of these skills as well. By the time the 6 months were up, I didn’t want to leave. God had truly transformed me and my heart for Cambodia was full.
Coming back home, I felt a bit lost. It was difficult to translate the things I experienced in South East Asia back here in Canada. I knew I had to get a job, but I didn’t want just any job. I didn’t want to settle. God started a good work in me in South East Asia that I knew wasn’t supposed to just end upon my return to Canada. But I had no idea what that looked like. When I was still in Cambodia I started to make a mental ‘wish list’ of the type of job I wanted. It was very specific. For starters, I wanted to work with a non-profit, but I didn’t want to be doing front-line work. Specifically, I had hoped to continue to work in the area of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. I am also interested in potentially pursuing law in the future, so I wanted to be exposed to that environment as well. Not to mention I had to be qualified for the position and it needed to be somewhere close I could commute to. Honestly, I didn’t think this job existed. But God is faithful and He provides! A mere month after coming back from Cambodia, I found a job that was exactly as I had hoped for, down to the smallest of details.
I am now working as a Project Manager for an organization that works to prevent human trafficking and sexual exploitation of youth and children in British Columbia. I am coordinating the creation of a manual that will equip youth-serving agencies to recognize and report human trafficking of youth and better support victims as they go through the criminal justice process. The one difficult thing about this job is I sit at a desk most of my day. It can sometimes seem a bit separate from the work on the ground, but the end result of my work will hopefully help to rescue and support victims of this terrible crime. When I am lacking motivation, all I have to do is look at the wall behind my desk and see the photos I have of the girls I worked with.
When I applied for this job, I initially thought I was under-qualified. However, even though there were other qualified applicants, it was my experience in the field that tipped the scale in my favour. I had no idea that my experience with ISM and Daughters of Cambodia would directly tie in to my work once I returned. Clearly God had a plan: all I had to do was say “yes”.
Jannelle Dyck – ISM 09.2014