My 50th birthday party was the best I’ve ever had! Nick invited about 150 of our dearest friends to a huge celebration he’d planned for a year. It was a dinner cruise with wonderful food, a beautiful cake and lots of laughs. It was one of the most amazing nights of my life. There was so much joy.
My friends spoke such love and endearing words to me. The gifts and cards meant so much. The social media words of love and blessing from all of you. Wow. I read…Every. Single. One. And the thousands who gave so generously to A21 in honor of my birthday—more than $450,000.
The impact of that giving alone sent me over the top. Think of the lives that will be reached, rescued and restored. Your friendship and partnership in eternal kingdom purposes is the greatest gift of all.
And yet, that night on the boat, while I was dancing Zorba the Greek with all my friends, I missed 21 phone calls from my brother trying to get in touch with me to tell me Mum had gone on to heaven.
What a picture of the extraordinary and the ordinary that happens in our lives—sometimes all on the same day. A few days later, our family landed in Australia. An unplanned trip full of emotion and memories flooding my mind all at once.
I remembered years ago asking Mum why she never had told me I was adopted. She said, “After a few weeks of having you, I simply forgot. I forgot you were adopted. You were mine.” How beautiful. I’m so glad I had spent time with her recently and got to say goodbye.
In the bask of such a beautiful memory, as I stood next to her grave and watched the lowering of her casket into the ground, I thought, I’m next. After all, that is the natural order of life. I wasn’t being morbid. Just real. That’s how the life cycle is supposed to go. First it’s your grandparents, then your parents, then you. The clock is always ticking. The reminder of our own mortality is so real.
“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
Life is too short to waste. Too important to waste. Too much of a gift to waste.
Throughout 2016, probably because I knew I was turning 50 and that there is likely more life behind me than ahead of me, I experienced deep personal reflection. I made decisions about what and whom I will and will not allow into my future. I am so grateful for where I’ve been, what I’ve had the opportunity to do, but I will not carry what was into what is now.
Celebrating my birthday and losing my Mum so close together was surreal and profoundly sobering. It caused a renewed resolve to rise within me.
I am determined—more than ever—to be more focused and to make each day count. I am determined to finish strong—this year and every year to come. And I am keenly aware of how important it is to do life together.
I could not have done 2016 without all of you…
The thousands of passionate women who showed up at the Propel events in Canton, Jackson, Dallas and Orlando. We stepped out in faith in 2016, moving our Propel events into both churches and, for the first time, arenas to host more women—and you came. More than 15,000 of you came to worship as a mighty throng, to proclaim, to refresh. You brought your friends—the ones in your community who are better together.
We gathered for nights of the Unashamed Tour in Amarillo, Nashville, Lafayette, Denver, Houston, and many more. Your stories of freedom and determination to be free touched me deeply. I met you. I listened to you. I’ll never forget you.
We partnered with Wheaton College to develop a Propel Leadership program. We’re committed to helping you grow as the leader you are in every way we can.
Together with our A21 teams, we spent time in refugee camps in Greece, showed anti-trafficking films and educated thousands of men, women and children about the dangers of human trafficking. But mostly, we looked into the eyes of mothers, fathers and children. I have never seen humanity so raw. And I am thankful I can never un-see what I’ve seen. We won’t stop helping the refugees flooding out of Syria and the Middle East. Think of the years we couldn’t reach them with the gospel. Now we can.
To demonstrate the tangible love of God to the refugees, we distributed one million portions of water through our Freedom Containers. These water stations transformed out of shipping containers have given people a place to wash their clothes, fill their drinking containers and shower. A basic necessity and a touch of normal in such desperate circumstances.
We experienced our largest A21 rescue ever in March—77 exploited men and women refugees in Greece brought to safety. Someone in their group remembered our anti-trafficking information and reached out for help. Our combined efforts with law enforcement are working. In May, we celebrated our 100th rescue—eight years in the making.
40 countries hosted 340 Walks For Freedom. Thank you for walking and making a difference.
We grew our aftercare ministry to new levels increasing the quality and personalized care of rescued lives. We are committed to giving the victims we rescue a future filled with quality medical care, emotional and mental restoration, and education.
Our Zoe churches in Warsaw, Poland, Thessaloniki, Greece, and Sofia, Bulgaria, are growing and thriving.
And to encourage even more people with the message of freedom, we went on weekly television reaching into the heart and soul of millions of homes through the vision of the Trinity Broadcasting Network and The Hillsong Channel.
TOGETHER, we did ALL of this. THANK YOU.
I know our Father is pleased, but you and I both know there’s more to do. When the Apostle Paul had achieved much, his attitude for the future was inspiring, and I believe it should be our focus:
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).
It’s time to press on.
Like Paul, while we have achieved much, we have not reached our goal. So, we press toward THE goal. We respond to the UPWARD call of Jesus. We REACH FORWARD to those things ahead. We’re moving upward and onward fulfilling our call, passion and potential. We’re propelled into the purpose, plans and destiny that God has for us and we will take thousands with us.
We live our lives for every person who needs encouragement, salvation and freedom. We live our lives for every person who needs to be physically rescued, restored and propelled into a new life.
As we let go of 2016, and reach forward to 2017, let’s determine together to finish strong and start again even stronger.
If, together, we accomplished so much 2016, imagine what we can do in 2017. Imagine the people we can reach with the love of Jesus, the hope we can instill, the leadership we can inspire, the lives we can rescue.
Press on with me. God is not finished with you—or me—yet. We’re still alive, so that means there’s more future ahead. Your best days are ahead in 2017.
Let’s finish strong—and start again stronger.
Happy New Year!
Christine Caine is an Australian-born, Greek-blooded activist, author and international speaker. She is cofounder of the anti-human trafficking organization, The A21 Campaign, the founder of Propel Women and the author of the new book Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick Up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny. For more information visit www.christinecaine.com.