Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

How We Walk with the Broken Speaks Louder Than How We Sit with the Great

Written by: on October 12, 2019

The Silk Road is a book about the new history of the world. The author shares with us that to truly understand new history, we must first understand the astounding past and the history of the nations.[1] Frankopan’s focus was looking at the past not from the perspective of the winners of history, but instead from the perspective of the reality of the scenario.

I correlated this to the world of human trafficking and what it would be like to look at trafficking through the eyes of the trafficker instead of the victim. What a different perspective that would be! When I was finishing my master’s degree in counseling, I was assigned the requirement of meeting with some human traffickers, who took young ladies into their fold and put them on the streets for sale. The traffickers are the “winners” in the trafficking world, as they are who rake in substantial income by selling these innocent, precious girls into a world of prostitution and drugs. So, the last thing I wanted to do was sit and counsel traffickers!

But, just as Frankopan found, there is richness in learning history from the prospective of the “winner.”[2] What I found is that every single trafficker I spoke with had once been a victim of sexual abuse himself, often from a family member or family friend. The torture they went through created a hardness within their core that opened the door for them to “profit” from their history. The heart-wrenching stories of abuse broke my heart. But I still couldn’t condone their choices in any way. I once heard a saying that explored that everything in life is the reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result, make a difference choice. I don’t agree that all of life is one’s own choice, because young victims of sexual abuse had no choice in the matter. But I do believe that history repeats itself, and the strength in the saying is that we do have choices to make changes in our lives by choosing a different direction.

I’ve worked with so many trafficking victims and my response is always the same: your past is just a story. And once you realize this, it has no power over you. Helping to empower victims to learn from and let go of their past is the answer to giving them the strength to move forward. I help them lean into Christ, as I share with them that the Lord sees their battle and provides strength, even when it seems like no one else does. How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.

Trafficking victims are always concerned about what comes next in life. But I often share with these amazing survivors that maybe their journey isn’t about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so that you can be who you were meant to be in the first place!

[1] Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 2017).

[2] Frankopan, The Silk Roads, 102.

About the Author

Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

15 responses to “How We Walk with the Broken Speaks Louder Than How We Sit with the Great”

  1. Mario Hood says:

    Awesome post! I love this, “maybe their journey isn’t about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you so that you can be who you were meant to be in the first place”!

    Jesus gives us the opportunity to change our story, in a way it’s up to us to accept the new contract (covenant) and switch authors :).

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Hi Mario. I was reflecting back over our blogs and realized I never responded to your kind comment about my post. Thank you! What a nice compliment, Mario! Serving as a counselor and a chaplain are so rewarding for me, but I truly appreciate your positive words on this post from yesteryear. Thank you!

  2. What a great post Nancy, I like your perspective of the past and your experience with the sex traffickers. Most of the traffickers had a history of sexual abuse while they were young and sought to benefit from their suffering. The key to their healing is letting go off their past and being open to what they truly are and what God wants them to be. I have to allow God to make me new and being what i was truly meant to be.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Hi Wallace. Thank you so much for your kind words with regards to my blog on The Silk Roads. I realized I never responded to you – and I want to thank you for your reflection to my post. I agree with you – the key is letting go of past pains which don’t define us and let God help us to become whom we are meant to be!

  3. Mary Mims says:

    Nancy, I love this post and thought about your work as I read the Frankopan’s chapter on the slave road, that focused on the human traffickers who traded slaves but only after exploiting them sexually themselves. It shows that this is an age-old problem that follows humanity and greed. Thank God that you are addressing “the least of these”.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Hi Mary. I realized I never responded to your comment on my blog from Silk Roads. I figure it’s never too late! lol Thank you for your reflection on my post and on the world of slavery and human trafficking. Your comments were special and I wanted you to know that I appreciate your response to my post.

  4. Jenn Burnett says:

    Your heart Always pours out in your posts Nancy! Thank you for you vulnerability! As a lit major, I’ve always been very attracted to the idea of life as a story. Jesus gave me this picture years ago of how He writes over our stories with an editing pen, redeeming them and retelling them for our healing and freedom. I feel like that about history sometimes. I wonder how Jesus would tell this story? Would it matter where it started? Who would Jesus have written into this story that Frankopan omits? What would Jesus want us to see for healing? For conviction that moves us to repentance? Where would your precious survivors show up in this stories and how would Jesus write about them? Bless you as you nurture healing for so many.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Hi Jenn. As I was reflecting on some past posts, I found this response from you about my blog on The Silk Roads. What a powerful reflection you gave in this response – and I am so sorry I didn’t reply. I love your questions and the power they hold. And I love the picture that Jesus gave you with regards to how he writes over our stories with an editing pen. I can truly picture that in my mind – and it is so beautiful. Thank you, my friend! So sorry I didn’t respond sooner to your beautiful response to me. Blessings, beautiful lady!

  5. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    You are gracious, wise, humble, and inspiring. I love how you tied in your work and research concerning human trafficking. How challenging to consider a trafficker’s story and perspective. As you have pointed out, not to justify actions, but to understand the repeating cycle of abuse, unresolved hurt, and abuse of others. Again and again, only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we break these repetitive cycles. Thanks so much for reminding all of us we can “unbecome” to “become” what Christ designed us for!

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      As I was reviewing some of our previous posts, Harry, I noticed that I never responded to your comment on my post regarding the book, The Silk Roads. What a beautiful response – and somehow I missed it previously. I so appreciate YOU, my friend, and your compassionate heart. And your reflection of “unbecoming” so we can “become” through Christ is spot on! Thank you for your kind words, Harry. I am so honored to call you FRIEND!

  6. Sean Dean says:

    Nancy, this is just great. thank you for the work you’re doing in this area. It’s important that we remind people that history is both what has happened to them and how they see it.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thank you for your response to my post of “yesteryear,” Sean. I’m so sorry I didn’t respond to your reflection. I was “under the weather” at the time we were reflecting upon The Silk Road blog, and realized I never responded to your kind response to me. Thank you for being such a wonderful asset to our cohort, Sean.

  7. John Muhanji says:

    Thank you, Nancy, for sharing such a powerful perspective from Frankopan’s historical point of view. You have truly nailed it on with your title of this story. I am equally encouraged by your writing and challenged me too. More a time we are quick to judge people by their misconduct rather than understanding where they are coming from and how we can share to help each other. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing this piece.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Hi John. I just saw this reply from you from my blog on The Silk Roads and realized I never responded back to you. Thank you for your kind words. I agree that we are quick to judge others without understanding their history. I appreciate your positive reflection on my counseling skills. I love what I do – both in counseling and as a Chaplain. I’ve been blessed! But so have you as you strive to make a difference in Kenya. “I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me.” Be blessed on your journey, John!

  8. John Muhanji says:

    Thank you, Nancy, for your insight and sharing on this story. You actually nailed it on by your title of this story. You have truly challenged me with the story of human trafficking. We are always quick to judge people without understanding their history. And also that history is not a justification of doing wrong things or repeating to do the same wrongs. You are a great counselor. Thank you for this great sharing. We all appreciate you, Nancy.

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