Beth Happick, co-chairwoman for the Baltimore chapter of Women of Vision, attended the 2012 Women of Vision National Conference in Washington, D.C., last month. Here, she shares some inspiring reflections on how the conference helped her become a passionate advocate for those suffering from poverty, injustice, and oppression around the world.
* * *
Before joining Women of Vision in 2010, I had never been an advocate, other than signing an occasional petition. I was stirred by God to lead a group of women in the Baltimore area to work on behalf of women and children internationally, to support local service projects, and to pray together and to grow in advocacy.
Never before had I taken on a specific issue. In the summer of 2011, I followed Women of Vision’s direction in becoming an advocate for the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). I began to make calls to my legislators regarding the TVPA and requested meetings with my senators.
During a conference call with the office of Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, myself, a group of women from our chapter, and a local advocacy ministry encouraged the senator to do all he could to push the bill through to a vote in the Senate — and to use any influence he might have to encourage the House to bring a bill forward.
By the end of the year, I attended a workshop on domestic human sex trafficking. My heart was broken as I sat in the pew listening that day. I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I held back tears and my heart was pounding as I learned of the horrific things that are happening right here in the United States.
I was stunned that there isn’t more effort on the part of our government and law enforcement to fight this sickening crime. I began to truly realize the importance of the TVPA and why Women of Vision was working relentlessly to renew this piece of legislation.
How could I listen to that and not do anything?
I continued to advocate, but my opportunity to do something big came in March at the 2012 Women of Vision National Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference included a lobby day to meet with our representatives, asking them to support the TVPA and foreign assistance.
I had mixed emotions. First, I was excited about the opportunity to do such significant work. Then, as I thought about the need to present the cause in an intelligent and educated manner, I became nervous! I am not a politically inclined person, so the thought of speaking with legislators is a bit intimidating to me.
However, by the end of the lobby day, I had such a feeling of exhilaration! I had overcome some serious fear and discomfort, and felt I may have actually made a difference. Another positive that I wasn’t expecting was the gratitude I felt to be an American citizen, with the right to lobby our government. I realized more than ever before that we really do have a voice.
I feel like using my voice for the voiceless that day, and over recent months, is one of the most significant things I have done with my life. I feel that I am doing some of the work that God intended for me to do in my life. I am incredibly grateful to Women of Vision and World Vision for providing me the opportunity to make a difference in the life of someone less fortunate.
Women of Vision is a volunteer ministry of World Vision, mobilizing and uniting women called to invest their time, intellect, compassion, creativity, and finances so women and children living in poverty might find hope and experience a tangible expression of God’s love.
Wondering how you can become personally involved in advocating for those affected by poverty, injustice, and oppression? Visit World Vision’s Advocate Network for ideas on how to take action today!