Proactive Initiative: Provision follows Vision

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If we waited for the money to do all the things that we have planned, we’d never get started. Convinced that God has called us to help sexually exploited young women and their children, we believe that he will also equip us and provide what we will need to do this, one day at a time. Sometimes we feel like the Israelites during their forty-year journey in the wilderness: receiving just enough bread from heaven for each new day.

At the same time, we are aware of the importance of maintaining a sustainable organization. In humble dependence on God’s daily provision, we focus steadfastly on the Vision and Mission that he’s given us.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.—Jesus in Matthew 7:7-8

Jesus doesn’t give us permission to twiddle our thumbs as life goes by. He’s given us tasks and responsibilities. He’s also given us his word that all we have to do is ask, seek and knock—in other words ask to the point of banging the door down in our need—and he’ll give us what we need, reveal to us what we’re searching for, and open to us the door that seems to have locked us out.

In summary, vision precedes provision. Once we know what we need to do the task God has given to us, we ask and keep on asking so that we can carry it out.

 

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Unity: God’s attractive gift

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“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.”—Jesus praying to his Father in John 17:22-23

Unity is a gift from God. We cannot create it, but we do need to actively live it as we interact with Jesus’ other followers. This God-made unity will draw and attract others, because of its beauty and power.

Christ Jesus prayed to his Father that the unity that they have as God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit would become the unbreakable bond of his disciples’ unity. Total dependence on Christ, trust in the Lord, is one of the three key elements of our Core Values as an organization. To the extent that we are united in trusting the Lord, we will enjoy unity with each other.

This unity is enjoyed, not only locally, but also globally. We remain in contact with all our global teams, and the basis of our contact is the unity that we have in God. Through video-conferencing and occasional visits, which are guided by and filled with prayer, these bonds are strengthened. Our global teams share with us our trust in the Lord and all our other Core Values, and we all hold each other accountable.

This unity is strengthened by the conviction that program participants, graduates and staff are on a level playing field. We are all servants of each other. Program graduates are mentored to become honorary servants. Our relationships with each other are strengthened as we put the needs of others before our own and as we get down on our knees,  ‘wash each other’s feet’ (John 13), and otherwise clean up the mess someone else has made. That’s what God did for us, so we go and do likewise. In this way, the attractive gift of unity sparkles and glows.

 

Strong Leadership: the Trusted Servant

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“The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”—Jesus in Matthew 23:11-12

Being humble, like Jesus, does not make us weaker. It makes us stronger. One of Jesus’ most powerful lessons to the Twelve, as he was training them to be his servant-leaders, was when he got down on his knees and washed their feet (John 13). The true, Jesus-trained leader goes and does likewise.

Trusted servants, trained by Jesus, strive to meet the needs of others first. We interviewed one of our seasoned leaders and asked her to share some of her experiences as a servant-leader.

One of the most striking things that she said is that to be a strong leader is to be strong in the Lord. “Without Christ,” she says, “we can do nothing that lasts.” In answering the following questions, she explained what she means.

How does a trusted servant within SAF strive to meet the needs of others first?

“A leader is responsible for the well-being of the people entrusted to him or her. Such a leader needs to pay attention and be in tune with what the Holy Spirit says.

“A leader is a helper. A true servant-leader accepts as a priority to help people grow, to enable people to reach their best. As a leader, you do not seek your own success, because your role is to help people excel in the role that God has given them. I had to learn to be happy in the success of others, to encourage them, and to prefer them over myself.  

“To be a strong leader is not to hold on to the power you have, but to give that power away. We all love power in one way or another. But we have to deny that desire before we can rightly use it. This is a spiritual discipline that you have to exercise daily.”

Why is ‘walking the recovery talk’ essential to SA leaders and how does the Formation of Servants (12-step program for SA staff) serve that goal?

“The Formation of Servants is the equalizer among everybody, because it shows that leaders have a mix of strengths and weaknesses, like anybody else. Walking the recovery talk for SA leaders means that they come to realize that their heart is not often in tune with God’s ways. To be a strong leader is to be strong in the Lord.”

How do you envision Formation of Servants benefiting other organizations beyond SAF?

“The Formation of Servants is really a tool that helps leaders become disciples of Christ. Their organization is their school, where they learn how to serve. It will benefit any organization, whose leaders are humble enough to recognize that without Christ they can do nothing, no matter how skilled they are.”

How does the Principle of Anonymity guard and guide servant leaders in SAF? 

“This principle helps us to reflect on the pitfall of fame and vain-glory. The benefit of respecting this principle for the leadership is that it doesn’t allow competition among servants. In this way, the unity of the community is safeguarded. Everyone has a role to play and no one is lifted up more than another. 

“Servant leaders also realize that everyone desires to be remembered. However, it is better for others to speak well of us than for us to be pridefully making a name for ourselves. 

“As well, when the Principle of Anonymity is applied to the women we serve, it preserves their dignity, which we must safeguard on their behalf at all costs.” 

What happens when personalities are raised above principles?

“I like to contemplate James 2 that deals with treating everyone the same way. Reflecting on the fruit of the Spirit, we learn to practice 1 Corinthians 13, which tells us how to love our neighbour. 

“I have learned in my personal life that whether I like my neighbour or not, I must erase all prejudices that I feel toward them, and treat them all equally with dignity.  I may not like what they do, but I have to remember that they are made in the image of God. 

“As a leader of an organization, I must not lift up those I feel are important in my own eyes, because they could contribute to the organization’s well-being. Again, only God provides for the needs of his organizations, and chooses people that I may have never chosen myself, to build and develop his programs and services to the women we serve. 

“This principle helps us maintain a heart free from idol-worship.”

She said a lot more in her interview, but this gives you a sense of what we mean by strong leadership. It’s all about becoming a servant, being strong in the Lord rather than depending on our own genius or the adoration of others. It’s all about freeing ourselves from idols. It’s all about steadfastness to God and imitating his faithfulness.

 

Privacy: “Free From Judgement”

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We all have a deep longing to belong, to find assurance that others appreciate and accept us for who we are. This is easily compromised in our human weakness, when we judge another based on their past.

The women we serve at the SA Foundation are given the tools and the community to confront the shame and pain of their past, assured that it does not limit or define who they are today. We know freedom is in releasing ourselves from the judgement we pass over ourselves regularly, and being welcomed for the person we are today. This is why we have anonymity as a foundational core value, as well as in our title. It is the promise and the hope that we all deserve a new beginning freed from shame and labels.

Discussing the effect of anonymity on her life during and since graduating from an SA Program, R states

“I never valued it until later into my recovery journey. I didn’t realize why it was so important while I had little self-esteem and direction in life. I had always been defined by what others told me I was. However with 7 years of recovery experience now, I understand that my story is only MY story to tell. Previously I had no choice…but today I have the choice to share or not to share. The thing that I have learned is that I only share now if it is going to benefit another going through a similar struggle. It’s not an obligation to share my whole journey with everyone!

My freedom looks like not being defined by my past, and therefore my son now gets to experience that freedom too. He is not labelled as an ex-addict’s son, he isn’t burdened by the baggage of my past, he has the right and the privilege now to be known purely for who he is. It is my heart’s desire that he be protected from the stigma and judgement of others.

If it wasn’t for anonymity in my life, I wouldn’t have the confidence to do the things I am able to do now. I wouldn’t have faith in SA’s recovery program and I wouldn’t have faith in my God. I would feel exposed and judged. 

Within the safety of anonymity my experience or story isn’t sold for a price meaning I don’t become exploited yet again. This is true freedom to me.” 

This is SAF Life! Join our community and know that you are so welcome here to share your life of liberty and your authentic struggles with us. What is freedom to you and how does that show in your life? Email abi@safoundation.com to share your stories, your words of hope and your photos of life.

 

 Integrity: “I try to live the example for others to follow”

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Integrity as C.S Lewis states is “Doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” It can also been seen as the ‘personal choice to hold one’s self to consistent standards’ (Wikipedia).

So what does integrity mean to you? Have you seen it modeled well in your life, or have you lost trust in others because integrity was not upheld? We all know that this trait of integrity can have a powerful impact on our ability to have true and honest relationships. It is a trait that tests our character and the very motives of our hearts, which is why this is such a foundational value of ours here within SAF life. Our motives, words and our actions have very real consequences on the community we serve and belong to, which is why we continue our personal recovery as a day by day process. We desire for our lives to have a positive impact on the people around us, and to remain consistent and true regardless of situation or circumstance.

I had the privilege of interviewing one of our SA recovery facilitators about what integrity means to her and how it is applied to the work she does with the women we serveShe states:

“I understand integrity to mean to mean that my personality doesn’t change dependent on environment or the people I am with. I share a lot of my personal adventures on a daily basis with whoever is in my life, particularly with the women I mentor. As a Christian I am called to reach out to those who don’t know Jesus, where I get the privilege to meet with those in the midst of pain and struggle and come alongside them.

Just earlier I met with a lady I am mentoring in the community, who struggles to parent her daughter in a way that brings her family closer due to issues  she has with her own mother and the role modelling she had been exposed to.  I was able to bring her alongside my life today, showing the example of how to integrate motherhood with the daily routines. I try to live the example for others to follow.

Life is practical…it is not a philosophy. We don’t need to be idealists. We need to get real. You see, to live with integrity, situations should not be the governors of who we are…we should govern the situation by who we are.”

How do you see this value lived within the SA Foundation?

“In order to have integrity there has to be authentic vulnerability. We share in the women’s journey of recovery as staff, doing our own 12 steps called the Formation of Servants. The step work acts as a leveling ground, where we get to grow our humility and enter the presence of God. It doesn’t matter what our vulnerability is, it is the sense of vulnerability that is the same and true and takes away comparison, clears the path and brings about compassion and unity. This is so important for the ‘connectedness’ of our team and what I truly value about the organization.”

How do you share the value of integrity to the classroom?

“Well firstly I stand on the rock that the word of God never comes back void. Each woman in the class is at a different stage in their recovery journey, but as I personally journey with God and allow him to guide my thoughts and words, He leads me to share my journey with him. This may be a scripture or a word said in the right time, to meet their needs and encourage them to explore and seek. There is no map for this place!! I need to allow God to be my guide and lean not on my own understanding. Integrity is after all a characteristic of God first; He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow!

Our women have an instinctual discernment. They can sense when there are discrepancies in character. We all fall short, we will get it wrong, but it’s in the humility of doing our own recovery and inventory that we come to see our faults and vulnerabilities and we get to share these with the women and our community. This allows for us to relate, a mutual sharing of struggling, to say to one another, “me too”, and know you are not alone. This is powerful and freedom to me.”

This is SAF Life! Join our community and know that you are so welcome here to share your life of liberty and your authentic struggles with us. What is freedom to you and how does that show in your life? Email abi@safoundation.com to share your stories, your words of hope and your photos of life

 

 

Vision: From Pain To Hope

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Vision can sound like an overwhelming word, especially in a culture today that tells you that it’s up to YOU to make something of yourself, and YOU must have a vision for your life. In recovery culture, vision is of utmost importance and is the first in our values system, but our vision is not solely dependent on being a better person or having a “try harder and you will get there” attitude. It is dependent on admitting we CANNOT “make ourselves” but we need help and guidance from our Higher Power and from healthy community that surrounds us. We were never designed to do this journey on our own; the vision was always to walk together. SAF Life is formed on the principles of servant-hood, personal recovery and community.

We spoke to one of our global staff members to hear his personal journey about vision; from pain to hope.

What has been your journey of recovery and how has being a part of SAF Life helped in this?

“Over the years my family and I have experienced serious hardship and heartbreak through health concerns and traumatic church experiences. As someone who has endured harrowing suffering and deep pain, I have been greatly blessed by a community that embraces the brokenhearted and provide a place of healing and restoration. Through our journey of personal recovery God has prepared us to minister with greater compassion and grace to others who have been hurt and broken and are experiencing despair and don’t have hope.

Ever since we have become a part of the SA community God has further equipped and shaped us to join and serve others on their journey of personal recovery.”

How do you view service or being a servant to the women we work with?

“Getting to know and walk alongside the women and children whom God has entrusted into our care has been immense privilege and blessing. Each woman and child has their own unique character and gifts, which the Spirit of God brings to the surface in a variety of ways – sometimes chaotically, often unexpectedly, and always with results that marvel us at God’s goodness, love and power.”

One of our desires as a community is to “love mercy, act justly and walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8. How have you seen this here?

“I have learned like never before the great impact that acting justly and loving mercy and kindness can have upon a person and a community of people- an impact that is so powerful that it demolishes strongholds of evil that were considered unbreakable, an impact so far reaching that it can break cycles of abuse, generations old, bringing hope, restoration and wholeness previously unimagined. It has taught me something important about myself too, as a flawed human being – there’s hope for me too!”

What does freedom look like in your life?

“Freedom to me, especially since my involvement with SA is the seeking and finding joy in serving others and knowing Jesus’ promise of participating in the kingdom of heaven and having a taste and anticipation of its arrival every day.”

This is SAF Life! Join our community and know that you are so welcome here to share your life of liberty and your authentic struggles with us. What is freedom to you and how does that show in your life? Email abi@safoundation.com to share your stories, your words of hope and your photos of life.

 

What is SAF Life?

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SAF Life is our vibrant and hope filled community way of living.

We recognize that life is tough and can be isolating and lonely at times. We want to welcome all those who desire more authentic relationships, to a community full of committed champions, who know that the power of change is in the long term commitment and who make the decision to stay the course with those who are hurting. We love life and we want to celebrate the beauty that we get to witness daily, of transformation, of the power of love and hope leading to healing in an individual’s life and the ripple effect that has to our whole community. We want to share the highs and lows of working through personal recovery and how to be the messy, broken and beautiful people we are!

There is no hiding here; there is no need for masks to cover who we really are. We are unique creations, designed with reason and purpose and with a value to great to cover over. Don’t be anyone else but yourself, discover who you are, your values and principles by which you live and act, and the unlimited power there is in authenticity. Come as you are and journey with us.  Freedom looks different in each of our lives but we know that freedom is attractive; it is desired, it is worth the work and the pursuit. Freedom is possible for us all!!

Lets hear from a member of our community sharing about freedom:

 “Liberty to me means knowing that I belong and I am accepted for who I am, not for who I was previously trying to be. Once I stopped wearing the masks and stopped trying to find my worth in others I experienced true joy, which to me is freedom. My identity is rooted in someone much greater, more stable and more loving than I had ever experienced before…God! 

This community continues to show me that I am worthy, just as I am, and this freedom I have is something I want to extend to others…that  there is grace and hope for every person. I am committed to use my voice to show others that they are enough and that they are worthy of freedom. I believe each person I encounter has unlimited potential within, to love, to be a voice of hope and encouragement and to effect change in their lives and their communities. When you know who you truly are, you become free and release others to become free too. ~ A

Join our community and know that you are so welcome here to share your life of liberty and your authentic struggles with us. What is freedom to you and how does that show in your life? Email abi@safoundation.com to share your stories, your words of hope and your photos of life

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