Open your eyes to a single candle in the darkness and the humble globe of light it casts. It is a small flame; it gives warmth enough only for one pair of hands, but it is something to see by, something to draw others from the shadows, beckon them to gather around. Others bring unlit candles. Before long, one flame has become many.
So it is with hope.
On a warm night in December, the older girls from the Round Home organized a gathering in the garden to send up their hopes and prayers for children still trapped in trafficking and exploitation. Each held a single, small candle, flickering under the night sky. They spent a few minutes in silence. Some were emotional, remembering how different things had been for them.
“They could be like us. We were given a chance. I hope they will be given a chance to improve their lives.”
“I hope they will be put in a safe place. I am afraid they could get an STD.”
“My prayer is that they realize that what people are doing to them is wrong.”
“I pray that they would be taken away from darkness and that they would have the light to see that there is a purpose for them that will not destroy their health and their life. I was so happy when I was rescued. I’m so thankful that now I’m slowly realizing my dreams of helping my family overcome poverty.”
“I hope they find happiness and can go to school, like my friends and I who are no longer in darkness. We are now free to dream of a better future for ourselves and for our families.”
Love146 began with one girl’s defiant flame. She sat behind glass in a brothel where men were waiting to rent her body for a night, a few hours. But in her eyes was a fight and a fire burning against all odds, bright enough to draw us forward, to fuel our belief that a different world was possible, one in which children’s hope and joy are never dimmed or extinguished.
WE LIT OUR CANDLE OF DEFIANT HOPE FROM HERS.
We never found out what happened to her — we don’t know where she is now. But 14 years later, we go back to that scene. Reaching across the years, we thank her. We wish we could show her what it meant for us when we received that light, and what it has meant to thousands more children. The children in our safe homes tend that light alongside us now. They share it with each other daily, and they share it with us, and with you.
Some days it feels foolish to believe like this, to tend the candles against so much darkness. But this holiday season, inspired by children, we’re determined to keep this hope burning longer and brighter.
AS ONE YOUNG GIRL IN OUR SURVIVOR CARE SAID RECENTLY, “WHEN WE ARE GIVEN LIGHT, WE SHOULD GIVE THAT LIGHT TO OTHERS.”
There’s something remarkable and magical about a candlelight service – how one flame can spread to an immense light filling a group of people. In ancient Greece, there were races in which a lighted torch was passed from one runner to the next. It’s the same tradition that carries into the modern Olympic ceremonies. At Love146, we remember who passed the torch to us, and every day we seek to pass it to others. Sharing the fire we’re given: It’s how we heal. It’s how we change our world. Pass it on.