It’s What’s Inside

There aren’t many things more gratifying for me than teaching a young person to do something and then watching their face light up when it works. Personally, that experience usually involves a ball, but Wii Just Dance and making cookies or pancakes aren’t far behind. I had the privilege to help lead a group of 14 Americans and a Japanese nursing student on an awareness trip to Cambodia with Christ In Youth last month. CIY hosts a variety of camps, trips and events for young people from elementary through college. We participated in Engage: The World, which exposes participants (typically aged 18-24) to some of the world’s most dire issues, from poverty to human trafficking and bonded labor, in countries including Cambodia, Zambia and India. We learned about the history and present struggles of the Southeast Asian country, and spent time with prevention and after-care programs for individuals affected by human trafficking under the umbrella organization, Rapha House. What did we do to fix the issue? We sang a lot of songs and had dance parties with hundreds of kids in Rapha’s Kids Club. We got our hair and nails done by at-risk teenage girls living and learning at its Freedom Salon. And we played a lot of soccer, basketball and danced with the girls aged 5-18 who’ve been rescued out of sex trafficking and now live in the safe house. Sports event planners know better than anyone that the joy of sport stretches beyond winning. Whether it’s for good health, the benefit of learning discipline, teamwork or perseverance, or for pure enjoyment, sports can be an outlet for anyone, anywhere. Girls who have experienced more evil than I can imagine turned into carefree—albeit no less competitive—athletes when soccer games broke out on the concrete courtyard. They jumped and cheered when they scored after learning the right way to shoot a basketball; and teaching us their games was equally monumental. Natural athletes emerged without the influence of parents or culture in this protected arena. There’s no pressure to pick a sport or extra-curricular activity, and these girls proved there’s something innate that drives us to love sports, dancing, drawing or a little of everything. Most kids don’t have to overcome the terrors that these girls have, but the games you plan and the tournaments you host can have the same effect. What experience has shown you the significance of what you do or the influence you have on people’s lives?