I am *so* excited to invite you on this journey with me.
I believe that we often get caught up believing that we have to be rich or powerful or a flat-out superhero to make a difference in the world today–and even that might not be enough.
But The Ordinary Project believes differently.
The Ordinary Project understands that regular people are the ones truly leaving their mark on this crazy world–marks of courage and hope, selflessness and sacrifice, love and faith.
And, while we will never be able to acknowledge every single unsung hero, my mission with The Ordinary Project is to do exactly as the name suggests: recognize and honor those ordinary people who are coloring the world a more beautiful place, simply because they believe it should be done, typically without any promise of reward or even acknowledgement.
I have a small list of ordinaries whose stories I hope to share, but I would be honored if you chose to send me the names and contact information of ordinary people in your own life that deserve to be known! You may do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, today, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you: Julie Shrader, president and founder of Rejuvenating Women.
Did you know that the average number of sex workers in Nebraska alone is an average of 900 per month? And did you know that the average price of a human slave today is only $90? $90 FOR A HUMAN LIFE. In today’s money, a slave in 1850 (ya know, when slavery was legal…) would have cost $40,000. Furthermore, an estimated 12.3-27 million people are enslaved in some form of forced, bonded, or sexual labor at any given time in the world today–half of whom are children. That makes human trafficking a 31.6 billion dollar industry. Yet, according to statistics, for every 800 people sold into slavery, only one person is convicted.
. . .
Enter Julie Shrader.
I first met Julie in 2014 via email.
I was preparing to head to Costa Rica through Christ for the City International for my first ever solo mission trip. The woman who had helped me organize my trip had retired a month before I was set to leave, and Julie stepped in to make sure all of my paperwork was complete and that I felt adequately prepared. She was so kind and helpful, checking in with me during the month I was in Costa Rica.
After I returned home, I noticed that Julie had left her role with Christ for the City to dedicate more of her time and resources to her nonprofit organization, Rejuvenating Women, which was originally founded in 2012.
According to their website,
“Rejuvenating Women is a faith-based, non-profit organization committed to providing hope and restoration to those enslaved in human trafficking. [They] are committed to developing relationships with the girls and women who are deeply wounded by being a victim of human trafficking by loving each and every girl right where she is at.” (read about the rest of their services, mission statements, visions, and values here).
. . . . . . .
I love Julie’s heart behind this much-needed and hard working ministry, so I decided I would get to know her a little better. Here are a few of the questions I asked:
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part is the women I get to know and whose lives I get to see changed.
Tell me a bit about yourself! Hobbies, interests, family, favorite food/color, etc.
I enjoy running and workout out, along with reading. I love the outdoors! My favorite color is real blue. And I love spending time with my grandsons.
what is your favorite quality about yourself? Why?
My favorite quality is my faith.
What is a quality you wish you had or wish you were better at? Why?
I wish I had more patience, for obvious reason 🙂
How would you define an ordinary hero?
An ordinary hero is someone who serves others in any capacity if their motivation is 100% selfless.
Would you consider yourself to be an ordinary hero? Why or why not?
My head tells me no I’m not one, but my definition says yes.
What is your life motto?
“Always be ‘love’ motivated.”
Being love motivated in all we do is joy. If we serve others with the wrong motives, it is done empty and what will the fruit of it be? If we are love motivated, that created a ripple effect to others we serve and fruit will grow. Loving those we serve right where they are at.
What is one thing that has happened in your life that has made you a stronger person?
My sexual abuse made me stronger because God showed me His plan in it.
If you could turn back time, would you? Why or why not?
I would have finished high school and not dropped out.
What do you feel most grateful for at this point in your life?
I’m most grateful that God has adopted me into His family.
Who has impacted you the most and how?
Terri and Ty Schenzel has impacted me the most. They showed love and hope of marriage no matter what the circumstances. Mine included.
If you were able to leave a lasting impact or legacy with those who hear your story, what would you want it to be?
It’s how God loves us and forgives us no matter what we’ve done. How do we live our lives? For Christ or for ourselves?
I encourage everyone reading Julie’s story to dig deeper. Explore Rejuvenating Women‘s website. Pray about getting involved, and pray for those rescued out of the death grip of slavery. Research human trafficking. (One great resource is The End It Movement.) Remember the truth that Edmund Burke once spoke:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women!] to do nothing.”
May we all be ordinary heroes, right where we are.