Human Trafficking, Art Galleries, and Conversations with the Holy Spirit

Conversing with the Holy Spirit can take different forms. One is when I pray to God in what I hope to be a conversation between us. I may not hear the Spirit audibly but I am assured that the Spirit is active in that conversation.

Another type is when I am in a conversation that the Holy Spirit takes part in. Frankly, every conversation I have with anyone is one the Holy Spirit is part of, whether I know it or not.

I had one of those conversations recently and learned the Holy Spirit was in it.

Stopping in Sonoma

I was driving to Santa Rosa the other day to teach a class of judges at a statewide conference on judicial branch leadership. My road passed through Sonoma, one of the oldest towns in California, and being able to stop for an early lunch on my way was a priority.

Sonoma Town Square

The town square is ringed by boutiques and shops and cafes and historic buildings. I went in to browse through a book store and found a used copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.I have been meaning to read this book for decades, and became inspired to make an effort when I read the posts on it over at Classical Quest.

Not the edition I bought

Book in hand, I continued my walk.

Gallery of Power

When we were last in Sonoma, my wife and I visited a photo gallery that I wanted to revisit. I entered and slowly passed from one photograph to another, then turned a corner in the room and saw this boy.

This photo captured our hearts the first time we saw it, and it captured mine again as I stood there looking at it once more.

The woman at the gallery told me the story behind the picture. This boy lives in Ghana, and some people approached his family with promises of schooling and a good home if they would send him with them. The family did.

The people sold the child into slavery instead.

This boy and other children became slaves of commercial fishermen on a lake where the nets often get caught in half-submerged trees. The fishermen set the children onto the trees to free the nets but since many of the children cannot swim, many of the children drown.

The nets are freed. The children die.

The photographer, Lisa Kristine, met this boy in a camp for rescued slaves. In this photo he’s taking a bath by pouring buckets of water over his head. The woman in the gallery said that soon after this boy was reunited with his family.

The boy was freed and washed clean. This is the most powerful art gallery I have ever entered.

Lisa Kristine and Harriet Beecher Stowe

The woman showed me a photo of the lake the boy worked at and said its loneliness stood out to her even more than usual. The half submerged trees looked to me like Golgotha and I told her that the children enslaved there, the children who die there, might as well have been crucified on those trees.

“You’re a believer,” she said.

She told me that every day before she comes to work she prays for the Holy Spirit to bring people to talk to, whether a fellow believer or someone she can have a gospel-soaked conversation with. I showed her my new book and said I was that person.

I had bought a novel about slavery and the fight for freedom, and moments later saw a picture called Freedom and heard about the fight against slavery.

This was surely a conversation with the Holy Spirit.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17.)


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14 Responses to Human Trafficking, Art Galleries, and Conversations with the Holy Spirit

  1. Aimee Byrd says:

    This article is encouraging, Tim. And thank you, with the climate on the internet in the last couple of weeks, for highlighting the work of the Spirit without needing to get into the continuationist/cessationist debate.

    • Tim says:

      The Spirit’s work is so much bigger than we can imagine, isn’t it Aimee? I’m usually responding with wonder more than trying to figure out where there may be a dividing line between those doctrines. Not that I don’t have a position, because I do, but the Spirit smashes down barriers right and left from what I’ve seen.

  2. Adriana says:

    Oh my word, Tim. My heart is in my throat. Thank you so much for sharing that image and story with us.
    “. . . where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” AMEN!

  3. lauradroege says:

    Thank you for sharing the story, Tim. That image of this little boy gripped my heart. I want to give him a big hug, and I’m so thankful that he was reunited with his family.

    • Tim says:

      Me too, Laura. That photo is so large that it takes up the entire wall of it’s exhibit area at the gallery. It’s a powerful image to turn and see from across the room.

  4. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Tim. I love the reminder of the Spirit bringing freedom. And that picture is so moving.

  5. SJBeals says:

    Thanks for sharing this photo. That little boy is absolutely beautiful and his story, horrific. I want to reach into the screen and bring him home to me.

  6. Such a poignant story to say the least. Thanks for sharing. Stay blessed!

  7. FW Rez says:

    Great post. Setting captives free is at the heart of the gospel.

    We used to use, perhaps, over-use the term “divine appointment”. There are times, however, when we know that God has placed us in just this place at just this time for this exact conversation.

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