Does Anyone Understand?

The other day, I told a missionary woman that I want to write songs about social injustice and political corruption, and then travel the country playing these songs, raising awareness about these issues. I told her that I want to start a movement of sorts – where people act out of care and concern for other people’s well being, instead of just their own.

When I told her this, she simply said, “Well…” and then her voice trailed off.

I thought to myself, surely this woman, out of all people, would understand. A missionary to Colombia; a woman whose entire life has been dedicated to helping other people…Surely she would understand this crazy desire of mine! If she doesn’t, then who will?

I was discouraged by her reaction, to say the least.

After her brief response to my life ambition, she asked about what my main focus would be. I told her that throughout my college career, I have been researching human trafficking (for the record, last week’s blog gives you a brief glimpse into my research). I then explained to her, in a typical, ambitious college student fashion, that I want to bring justice, in whatever way I can, to this issue.

Our conversation didn’t last much longer. The woman I was talking to was the speaker at a women’s conference in Alton, Illinois, where I would be playing music. Shortly after our conversation, the conference started.

Although the conference was quite lovely, I really want to share about something that happened afterwards.

I was playing guitar, providing the background music for the women as they got into groups to pray for each other. While I was playing, the woman I wrote about earlier came over and began to pray for me.

I often feel awkward whenever somebody does this. I don’t know what to do! Do I close my eyes and bow my head? Do I mumble in agreement under my breath? Do I pray for the person after they pray for me? And, in this case, do I keep playing guitar?!

Fighting these questions back, I continued playing guitar, and I also focused on what this woman was praying.

She prayed that my eyes would be open to injustice in this world.

That I would have the words to speak and the songs to sing.

That, as I speak, I would inspire others around me.

That, as I write, my lyrics would be blessed.

That, as I step, my path would be guided.

That I would have courage.

And perseverance.

It was then that I realized, she understood.

-britney johnna

Women’s Conference – Cornerstone Church in Alton, Illinois
(Photo by: Britney Molloy)

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Dream on.

Struggling Musician. Lawyer. Mother. Author. Trophy Wife.

Pepsi Truck Driver. Politician. Social Worker. Judge.

Missionary. Professor. Journalist.

Motivational Speaker. Advertiser.

Bum.

What do all of these things have in common?

If you guessed potential careers for yours truly, then you are correct.

I think I’m going through something that is completely normal for a soon to be college graduate – indecisiveness about what to do after graduation… There’s so much pressure to know what’s next! But honestly, how can we possibly know what the future holds?

I know it may seem like I’m walking aimlessly in life, but that’s not true. I have some hopes.

  • I hope to make a difference in people’s lives.
  • I hope to care more for others than for a dollar.
  • I hope to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
  • I hope to inspire others to be the best that they can be.
  • I hope to shine light on issues of injustice.
  • I hope to put the needs of other people before my own.
  • I hope to have a family.
  • I hope to lead an adventurous life.
  • I hope to write music about my experiences.
  • I hope I don’t lose passion for people.
  • I hope I always care.

See, I’m not all that aimless. I can do all of these things, regardless of my career. I don’t know what my future holds, but I hope my hopes stay the same.

Maybe I’ll just get in a boat and see where it goes.
(Photo by: Britney Molloy)

-britney johnna

Land of the Free?

For one of my classes this semester, I am supposed to write an editorial and send it in to a newspaper to see if it gets published. My guidelines for this assignment are to write about something I am passionate about and to motivate people to do something about it. During my time as a student of Political Science at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, I’ve been researching human trafficking. Through this research, I’ve discovered that this is an issue that many people know nothing about. Because of this, I decided to write an editorial about human trafficking.

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Flag of the United States of America, backlit,...

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

In the United States of America, the land of the free, many people believe that all are, indeed, free. However, this is not true – slavery still exists. Although the abolition of slavery happened over a century ago in America, slavery is still a common occurrence today. Human trafficking, or modern-day slavery, is the trading of children, women, and men for the use of forced labor, sexual exploitation, or other forms of oppression and exploitation.

Many Americans believe that this only happens in developing countries; however, human trafficking is an issue that is widespread in our very own country. According to a study from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, each year there are 50,000 women and children who are trafficked into the United States; most of whom are sexually exploited. This figure does not include the number of victims who are actually from the United States.

So what does this mean for the average Joe or Jane living in America?

This means that our families are at risk; our sisters and brothers, our daughters and sons. And we must do something about it. We cannot become a community, a nation, who sits back and allows such an atrocity to occur. We cannot become a community, a nation, where young girls are being enslaved and forced into the sex industry. We cannot become a community, a nation, where companies force workers to work 80 hour weeks for wages that are illegally low. We cannot become a community, a nation, where slavery is tolerated.

However, this is what we are doing. We know that human trafficking is on the rise in the United States. There have been numerous studies conducted on trafficking that have proven this.

So why is this problem still growing?

This problem is still growing because we are allowing it to happen. We can no longer claim ignorance and pretend like slavery does not exist. Because we have learned that slavery still exists, we must do more to end it. The burden falls on us to take action and no longer tolerate slavery in our society. We cannot sit back and silence and allow traffickers free reign.

We must act.

Currently, there is a bill being debated in Congress called the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which aims to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute those who enslave men, women, and children. By contacting our senators and asking them to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S 13011), we can play a role in ending slavery. You can visit International Justice Mission‘s website  to learn more about this bill and what you can do to help combat human trafficking. Also, you can read the related articles below to learn more about human trafficking.

Remember, even in America, the land of the free, slavery still exists. It is up to us to do something about it.

I think we all can be too quick to judge

Photo by: Britney Molloy

Have you ever heard a person’s story and was completely changed by it? I’m learning that, if you are intentional with your interactions, then you can learn something from any person, regardless of who that person is.

This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at a drug and alcohol recovery program. The place that I volunteered also served as a homeless shelter and offered three free meals a day, every day, to anyone who needed it. The jobs I did varied each time that I worked – sometimes I helped out in the kitchen, other times I played music for the people in the recovery program. During my time volunteering, I was able to meet and build relationships with the people in the recovery program.

There was one man I met in the program who I viewed him as a farther-type figure. This man took me under his wing, and made me feel completely at home. He was a loving and caring man, full of life and wisdom.

I never would have guessed that, years ago, he killed a man.

He recognizes his sins of the past. He is ashamed of them. Even though his past was dark, his future is light.

Every day, this man wakes up and strives to be better than what he was yesterday.

That’s more than I can say for myself.

So tell me – who is the better person?

Britney Johnna.