"A Bright New Place" Foreword
Fiona’s book is an inspiring step of faith in courage as she makes herself vulnerable to every reader in order to share hope with those who have suffered horribly and to bring glory to our God of faithfulness, lovingkindness, deliverance, and renewal.
Remarkably, rather than challenging God about how such things could have happened to her, she daily thanks Him for protecting her from the fate that occurs to so many victims of such atrocities, such as commercial sexual exploitation, severe social isolation, debilitating addiction, and/or incarceration. Fiona was one of those statistics waiting to happen if not for God’s intervention, which both bewilders and humbles her.
She is also amazed by God’s unrelenting pursuit for her heart, for Him to bind it up as He draws her ever closer while revealing just how close He has always been. The unconditional, ever-present, unwavering, exceedingly abundant love of Jesus that saves and restores—in His power as King of Kings and gentleness as sacrificial Lamb—is the gospel Fiona illuminates in these pages.
For those blessed to be spared the types of unspeakable crimes that Fiona and all too many others have suffered, an understandable response is “God could not have possibly been anywhere near such evil.” Yet Fiona and her fellow overcomers have different testimonies, the truth of which is beautifully heart-breaking.
So, “spoiler-alert,” God (whether you believe in Him or not) will use the words He gave his daughter Fiona to stir and stretch your heart. He promised, for those who turn to Him, to grant new hearts of flesh rather than stone. And that’s when He can use us.
I don’t believe you can truly minister to a victim of abuse or exploitation as Jesus would if they are approached as a project or ministry or client or patient or outreach—or any other of so many labels that create distance and “othering.” Trust me, I’ve tried. No, you must come beside them as a nephew or niece, uncle or aunt, brother or sister.
I believe God will use this story to spur you to act on behalf of the millions of children being abused right now as Fiona was. Or perhaps to help those who have been delivered from their abuser yet suffer still. Or even to get involved in vulnerable young lives to prevent such evil from occurring to them.
These children aren’t really hard to find. Their symptoms and signals have been identified. Their likely circumstances are well known. Tragically, these are the kids often avoided or condemned.
Whether secluded and silent, provocative and profane, or rebellious and runaways--they are often known as the “weird kid” or the “bad crowd.” They are the ones many kids don’t invite to birthday parties and the ones many parents don’t let their children hang around.
I’d like to suggest that we extend “loving our neighbors as ourselves” to “loving our neighbors’ children as our own.” In these pages, you’ll yearn to love Fiona as a neighbor kid when she was 13 years old. While you’ve missed the chance to love teenage Fiona, I believe God has already picked a neighbor kid for you. He or she might be in the house next door, a foster group home, a homeless shelter, juvenile hall, or—just like Fiona—one pew behind you in church.
Let God soften your heart and open your eyes, I promise He’ll show you the one.
World Vision Child Ambassador
Red Window Project U.S. Director