“…the making of heroes together is rare. Those of us in the privileged world may subtly think those who suffer are incapable to help themselves or are, in fact, even responsible for their situation. Too often we focus on the wrong story, the story of victims rather than heroes, the narrative of impossibility rather than possibility. When we do, the real heroes are left uncelebrated and we remain unchanged.”
– Stephan Bauman in Possible: A Blueprint for Changing How We Change the World
At one time, Veng was at risk of being trafficked. His farm didn’t always generate enough profit to support his family, so he’d travel to find odd jobs. While this helped him put food on the table, it left him vulnerable to the traps of human traffickers in Cambodia.
But his story doesn’t end there.
Because he was a local church leader, Veng was trained by World Relief in human trafficking prevention techniques. In the process, he realized his own vulnerability and quickly saw the danger pressing in on his entire community. Veng returned from the trainings and educated his neighbors about the risks of human traffickers. Today, because of his efforts, his church and village stand as a united force against this injustice.
Veng’s story is not only a story of vulnerability – it’s one of heroism and strength. And in Possible, World Relief CEO and President Stephan Bauman’s new book, we discover that it’s also the type of story that will change how we change the world.
When we talk about poverty, suffering and injustice – it matters what story we tell. We can choose between stories of pity or dignity, dependency or potential, need or capacity. We can zoom in on our neighbors’ suffering without seeing their strength. There is danger here, though: when we choose only to see weaknesses of our brothers and sisters, we reduce them to projects or problems to be solved. When poverty is seen through this lens, no one is empowered, honored or lifted up.
But when we see our neighbors through the eyes of their Creator – loved, dignified, and capable of creating beauty out of pain – we empower heroes and become heroes in the process. This is the heart behind our work at World Relief. This is the story we are committed to telling. Our lens is fixed on the difficult truths of injustice, but it also captures our defiant hope that tomorrow can be better.
In Possible, we’re challenged to rethink the stories we tell about poverty and the roles we take in responding to issues of injustice. Possible is a practical guide for learning how to stand with our neighbors on the frontlines of suffering and honor their stories of pain, hope and faith.
Possible, by World Relief CEO and President Stephan Bauman, releases today. (February 17).