To combat the fastest-growing crime in the world, human trafficking, we are donating a portion of our sales to organizations leading the fight at home and abroad. One of the organizations we've partnered with through this endeavor is SWITCH, and today we have the opportunity to hear from Zaina, one of the leaders of SWITCH, about how she became involved in this work and how she manages her various callings in life.
1. How did you get started with SWITCH?
I knew the issue of human trafficking was not just a global issue but something happening in our community. I knew something had to be done to help local victims and educate our community on the issue. I started connecting to local influencers, ministry leaders, etc. to see if anyone was already doing this work and found a woman who connected me to the founder of SWITCH. At the time, SWITCH was very young- a few passionate volunteers who cared deeply and did local intervention efforts in areas where we knew sex trafficking and exploitation was happening. After connecting with this team and attending a few intervention outings, I attended a national conference with this group where we formed our five programs and began to build from there.
2. What drew you to this field?
The Holy Spirit. It was truly the Lord putting this on my heart and realizing He was calling me out. I have always been drawn to ministry, specifically youth and women, but this was a calling I never imagined having.
3. What does your job look like?
Every day is incredibly different. It might include meeting with our staff and finding ways to support them. It might be speaking at a community event or applying for grant funding. It might include meeting with other organizations we collaborate with to figure out how we can best support one another. It might be a statewide human trafficking task force meeting or chairing the regional Upstate Human Trafficking Task Force. It might be a time of prayer with our staff, planning a fundraising event, or sitting in on staffing for how to best care for one of our participants. It could be working with a board member on a project. Every day is truly different and reflects the complexity of this issue.
4. What is something you look forward to most in your job?
Watching the Lord work in us and through us. Watching Him provide in ways we never expect. The people. The lives changed. The awareness in the community. The change we are seeing year after year by the work we are doing. Seeing the culture shift, seeing women empowered. It is truly an honor.
5. You work in a tough field that is fighting for hope. Is there something that you tell yourself daily?
Honestly, the reminder we tell ourselves is that there is hope. That the Lord's strength is made perfect in our weakness. He will fight for those we serve. We just co-labor with him. And of course, remembering the lives that have been changed through Him.
6. Describe the team you have the opportunity to work with.
Our team is truly incredible. I have the privilege of working with some of the most passionate, strong, Jesus-loving ever! Their hearts are golden, and their well is deep. This is not just a job for them; this is a calling, and I see it every day. In the challenges, in the heartbreaks, in the discouragement, they still rise the next day to fight again. We could not do this without each one of them and the incredible part the play. It truly is a team effort.
7. What makes you passionate about the work you do?
I think the heart of the Lord. We, as believers, want to care about what He cares about, and through Him, He gives us a burden for the things that break our heart. This is often a population that is underserved and overlooked.
On a personal level, I am not a survivor of human trafficking, but I am a survivor of sexual abuse, and my heart breaks thinking about the possibility of someone taking advantage of those vulnerabilities.
8. What makes you encouraged in the work you do?
Seeing our community come around us and support us. Watching people feel drawn, compelled even to get involved in some capacity. Our staff, board, and volunteers and how hard they work.
9. What keeps you motivated?
The Lord, my husband and children, our staff, board, and volunteers, our participants.
10. How do you approach a work/life balance?
If I am honest, it is a constant struggle. After being with SWITCH for five years, I am learning more how to do this well. I have had to learn to say, "no," a lot, leave my computer at the office, and sometimes my phone in another room. I often turn my email off on weekends and try to unplug the best I can. However, this work is consuming. I constantly try to remember I cannot do it all. There will always be a to-do list, and I can't give what I don't have. I am not perfect at this but learning to grow every day in this.
11. What's your greatest accomplishment?
Outside of my family, I would say SWITCH for sure. If you would have told me 10 years ago that God would use me in this capacity, I would have thought...absolutely NO. WAY! I could never do that! I am not qualified. What does that even look like? How can I do that as a mother and wife? But it is Christ who qualifies us and strengthens us, and this ministry is living proof of it.
12. What brings you joy?
13. What type of community do you have around you?
I am blessed to not only have my husband as my biggest cheerleader and supporter, but I have amazing friends. I am thankful to have several strong women who love the Lord and love me. They speak truth into my life, hold my arms up when I am weary, and help me unwind and enjoy life.
14. What inspires you every day?
The survivors SWITCH works with. Each one, each story is significant, inspiring, and life-changing. The obstacles these women have to face are overwhelming. Seeing life change, hearts restored, lives full is incredibly inspiring.
15. Who is someone that inspires you, outside of Jesus Christ?
My husband. He is the hardest worker I know and rarely ever lets disappointment pull him down.
We hope Zaina and her servant's heart inspire you!