Recovery

The mission of Jesus, the Son of God, the purpose for which he was sent into this world by his Father, was to bring recovery to lost and broken sinners. In this respect, no human being is any different or any better than any other human being: we all stand in need of the grace and mercy of God, to heal our brokenness, to forgive our sins and to restore us into fellowship with God our Father and Creator.

The Lord Jesus, at the beginning of his earthly ministry, stated his own mission this way:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”–Jesus in Luke 4:18-19

Since Jesus is the Lord of everything that we do at the SA Foundation, one of the core values of our program delivery is recovery. As servants of the Lord Jesus, we have Good News for the participants and their children: God wants to set them free from every form of slavery, the bad fruit of human sin and depravity. He wants to shower them with his favour. He wants to proclaim freedom, healing and recovery to them, as much as to anyone else.

A crucial step for anyone is to recognize their need for recovery, their need for God’s grace, mercy and healing. For the women in our program, this means that they need to take ownership of their personal recovery. We can point them to God and the healing that Jesus and his Spirit provide, but in order for recovery and healing to happen, they must want it.

By God’s grace and the power of his Spirit at work in them, this is exactly what happens at the SA Foundation on a regular basis. Pray that we will be faithful in communicating God’s love for them, that his Holy Spirit would make us instruments in their healing, and that they would see all this is God’s gift to them for a better life here on earth, and a taste of the perfect life to come in the New Creation!

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Succession

For any organization to be sustainable, there needs to be ongoing training, mentoring and plans for succession. The vision needs to be passed on so that others catch the vision that first brought the organization into existence and kept it going thus far. The practices and skills that bring the vision into reality from day to day also need to be passed on.

At the SA Foundation, training and mentoring happen on a daily basis. Whenever a role is established, a task assigned or a project planned, time is taken to explain why things are done in a particular way, relating to our core principles. If you were a fly on the wall, you would often hear conversations and stories about the past experiences of our founder and the other directors and staff. These conversations and stories are loaded with insights and lessons about the wisest, most loving and gracious ways to serve sexually exploited women and their children.

This training and mentoring happens not only on the local level, but also globally. Our Organizational Directors Team (ODT) just returned from Nepal, where they began training the ODT in Nepal to become trainers for programs starting in South Asia and Africa. In this way they are facilitating succession and capacity building (i.e. doing ‘greater things’) at the global level.

You may imagine the trepidation that is felt by those who are called to carry forward the vision of the SA Foundation into the future. When such fears arise, we remind each other that this organization is not ours, but that it belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one Master we all, from the founder and directors to the live-in servants and facilitators, strive to serve.

Jesus knows the trepidation of his followers to carry on his work. Before leaving his earthly followers, the Twelve in particular, he reassured them with these words:

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.–Jesus in John 14:12

When we are following the Lord Jesus, he will equip us to do the work that he started when he was on earth. That is because he has commissioned us to do his work. And when he commissions people, he also provides them with all that they will need to carry out his commission.

This promise of our Lord Jesus is what makes succession at the SA Foundation both necessary and possible. After all, we’re just following the orders of our good Master and trusting him to sustain the good work that he’s started, for the saving of many and for his glory. We’re trusting him to do even greater things than we’ve already accomplished with  his help!

Pray for us that we will be faithful to our Master. Pray that we will live up to his name and ours, being true Servants who accomplish great things in this world, through his love and power at work in us.

 

Fair Working Environment

“Well, yeah. Of course you need to have a fair working environment.” Many would say that this goes without saying. It’s obvious. People will even say that “Do to others what you would expect them to do to you” is a rule that everyone should live by.

As it turns out, this is a very good rule to live by. Especially because Jesus is the One who made it, based on the Old Testament Scriptures, revealed by God through Moses and the Prophets:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.–Jesus in Matthew 7:12

This is a rule that we are committed to living by at Servants Anonymous Foundation. In fact, this embodies the motive of everything that we do. I don’t want to be exploited, so why would I stand idly by when others are being exploited? If I was forcibly enslaved and used, I would want others to take notice and set me free, if it was in their power to act. So why would I not do everything I can to set others free from sexual slavery, when it is in my power to do something about it?

This commitment to do to others what we would want them to do to us, we believe, needs to flow through every aspect of our organization, including our working environment. Everything from the human resource guidelines, code of conduct and policies, to the pay structure, job descriptions and role allocation, is permeated by our Lord’s desire that there be equality and fairness in all our relationships and dealings. This is enacted within our Programs locally and globally, often challenging cultural norms that can discriminate in various ways.

One of the ways in which equality is encouraged at the SA Foundation is through the Formation of Servants (FOS), a twelve-step program that has been written for and tailor-made for Servants Anonymous staff. The FOS has an equalizing effect, since it reminds us as staff that we all have recovery issues of some sort, we all have our ‘drugs of choice,’ and that it would be unfair to expect the women in our program to work on their issues, while denying our own. So as staff, we meet on a bi-weekly basis, throughout the year, to go through the FOS, and are continually ‘working the steps.’ We are all equal before God, participants and staff alike, and in need of the daily renewal and continual sanctification that God works in us by his Holy Spirit.

Let us know if you’re interested in using the FOS in your church, leadership team, or organization. We’d love to offer it to you as a means of helping build unity, equality and fairness. Just send an email to steve@safoundation.com or theo@safoundation.com with your inquiry, and we’ll be happy to serve you in whatever way we can!

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.

 

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.