Monday, July 20, 2015

Celebrating The Birthday Of One Of Our Amazing Friends, Naomi Triggs

Last week Jamie and I arrived in Denver, CO and we have been privileged to connect with a wide array of Nuru supporters and friends in this beautiful state. In fact, last Thursday afternoon we were able to meet with a few of Nuru's most longstanding supporters during a short trip to Colorado Springs. In addition, we had a rare privilege of connecting with one of Nuru's first supporters on the continent of Europe and a long time friend Naomi Triggs, AND it was her birthday!

Her story is just incredible, so I wanted to take a minute to reflect and share. She's quite the heroic individual and a definite change agent for good in the world. Back in 2003, Naomi joined about 30 other Americans (mostly from CO and OH) to start a church in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She traveled there as a student, worked as a nanny, and eventually went on staff with the church called Amsterdam50.

In 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2009, I had the privilege of visiting the church and bringing small teams from our church back in Morgantown to serve the community in Amsterdam. Jamie actually was on the last team with me in 2009. During each of those trips our teams were always blessed with the conversations we had with the community and staff of Amsterdam50 including Eric Asp, Patricia van Engelen, Sokol Hakrama, and Naomi Triggs. As I write this, I'm tempted to write about how each of these (and many others) have influenced and encouraged me by their examples of life and faith, but it's probably best that I focus on Naomi and her birthday. ;)

Naomi had been one of the key contacts for teams coming to the Netherlands, and during her years of living in Amsterdam, God had placed a deep burden within her for the hurting and the broken in the world. She found herself leading social justice initiatives in the church, in the city, and around the world. She spent time in India and Kenya working with orphans, she organized water walks through the city of Amsterdam, and in 2009, she set up an opportunity for me to share Nuru with a gathering of people from around the city.

Amsterdam is famous for many things, and not all of those things are good. One of those things is its Red Light District. While at the church, Naomi also got more involved in working to address the issues around prostitution, sex slavery,  and human trafficking as well aftercare for women who have been able to escape these traumatic experiences. And her work on these issues led her back to the US. She is considering attending a seminary and getting a counseling degree so she is better equipped for caring for women who have been trafficked when she returns to Amsterdam.

When we arrived we had the realization that Naomi was back in the US for a brief period, and thanks to Facebook, we also had the additional realization that we might be able to see her on her birthday--AND WE DID!!! It was wonderful catching up with Naomi, and at the same time it was a bit surreal. Jamie and I had never seen Naomi anywhere other than Amsterdam (and vise versa). Interestingly, Jamie and I are working to learn Dutch, so we were able to get in a little practice with Naomi. :)

We have been honored to know Naomi for quite some time, and seeing her on her birthday was extra cool, but more than that, being able to follow the trajectory of her life has been amazing. She has been faithfully living out her calling as God has nudged her increasingly toward compassionate care for those who have been downtrodden and abused. Although this post is a few days after her birthday, our prayer is that this year would be one of deep focus as she continues to pursue the vision God has given her.

And for the rest of us, may we each grow more keenly aware of the opportunities that are presented to us to grow in our care for our neighbors and to work toward being instruments of healing, restoration, and reconciliation in this beautiful and hurting world.

No comments: