At an initial glance, it’s impossible to see the difference between either side of this wall. In one direction, just 10 minutes from this wall, I reside in Imperial Beach, California; a small beach community south of San Diego. In the other direction, 10 minutes from this wall you can find Zona Norte, the largest Red Light District in North America. If you are unfamiliar, the Red Light District is a neighborhood filled with prostitution, the sale of illicit drugs, gangs, and brothels. What is highly illegal in the United States, is seen out in the public in this neighborhood. Because of it’s proximity to the United States, it is also an area frequented for the sale of drugs, women, and children.
During the month of November, I had the opportunity to invite people to sponsor a Child in Tijuana for Christmas. I partnered with Eastlake Church Playas, and together, we had a large goal to collect 200 Cinch Sacs to fill with toys, and provide to the children at Hope Zone. Hope Zone is an organization located in the center of the Red Light District, inviting children of the community into this safe space to play, learn and be introduced to the word of Jesus. Their main hope is to provide prevention to the youth of this community, in an effort to break the cycle. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this mission and admire the couple who founded Hope Zone.
I eagerly committed to the goal of 200 cinch sacs, feeling compelled to help each and every child who enters the gates of Hope Zone. But, shortly after getting off the phone, I realized what the financial picture of 200 cinch sacs looked like. I was completely prepared to bless each and every child; what I wasn’t prepared for was how much my faith would grow. It didn’t take long to refocus and tell myself “If God gave you this, he will get you through it”. This may be the first time I can say I completely just had faith and trusted God in his vision for me. Through monetary donations, hostess credits, fellow consultants donating their own product on hand, and incentive rewards points I have earned through my Thirty-One business, I was able to collect 181 cinch sacs. I later found out that the 200 was an over-estimate, and that we would be serving approximately 140 children that day.
“God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called”
This past weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel down to Zona Norte and meet the children of Hope Zone, participate in their holiday party, and hand out the cinch sacs filled with Christmas Gifts. The entire event was spoken in Spanish. While my ears could not understand what they were saying, my heart felt everything that was occurring. Skin color, ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status…. none of this mattered. Children are children; humans are humans. I may not have been able to communicate verbally to these children, but I believe a simple smile is a universal language. I hope that they could feel and see the love that was being provided to them.
Amanda, the founder of Hope Zone (along with her husband) shared with us that this community is used to people coming into their community to take from them (prostitution, the sale of children, drugs) and she was incredibly grateful that we could come into the community and give to them. 10 minutes from the border. 10 minutes from the wall. As I was driving out of Zona Norte, I could see Imperial Beach, and the Coronado bridge in the distance. 10 minutes across the border is one of the wealthiest communities. And yet, 10 minutes in the opposite direction, children are being sold and purchased for sex and organs.
My hope in sharing this is to bring awareness. A reminder to be kind to others. To smile. To give, when everyone else is taking. We, in the United States, often feel we live in an ugly world. While I will admit that it can be ugly, just 10 minutes from that wall, is an unimaginable ugly, compared to what we see here. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love like Jesus did.
Hope Zone, part of YWAM, is funded completely on donations. Every program is built completely on cash, so that their is no debt accrued. Their current space is outdoors only, and they are working on a building proposal with the vision of a 4 story building. More space, and more time to provide safety and education to these children. Please take a moment to read more about Hope Zone and consider donating.