One Dress. One Year.

Written on August 2, 2016

Today's post comes to us from Bethany Winz. Author of One Dress. One Year. Her story is remarkable and I hope it inspires you on your own justice journey.

Praying for you today! Brooklyn & The Justice Movement

________________________________________________

One Dress. One Year. By Bethany Winz

My justice journey began with a walk to the mailbox. Beads of sweat trickled down my forehead as the Florida summer sun beat down on me. I was in middle school, and as I flipped through the stack of mail, I had no idea that my life was about to change.

At the bottom of the pile was a magazine for me. It was the July 2008 issue of Brio magazine for teen girls. The cover story was about Natalie Grant and what she was doing to help fight human trafficking. Until that day, I’d thought that slavery had disappeared with the civil war. I was shocked to find out just how wrong I was and just how many people were still enslaved.

Life didn’t change for me then and there, however. It took a few years and learning a lot more about human trafficking before I knew that I needed to do something about it. With every statistic and story I read, God moved me closer to his heart for his children and a desire to see them set free.

I couldn’t stand by and do nothing when I knew that human beings were being bought and sold. Still, I wasn’t sure what to do.

In the fall of my junior year of high school, I had an idea. Inspired by Elaini (http://misselainious.com/), who’d worn the same dress every day for 100 days to raise money for orphans, I decided to wear the same dress every day for a year to raise awareness about and money to fight human trafficking. My goal was to raise $100,000. On Wednesday, January 11, 2012, I put on the dress for Day 1. And then I put it on again on Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday, and every day for the next year.

I set out to change the world, but really, my year in the dress changed me more than I could have expected.

For starters, it was a huge fashion challenge. Growing up, I spent most of my days in jeans and t-shirts. And since I was concerned about slavery in the supply chain (http://slaveryfootprint.org/), I decided I wasn’t going to buy any new clothes during the year. I was going to stick with the dress, clothing I already owned, and what I was able to borrow from friends and family. And each day, I was going to wear the dress in a different way.

I posted a photo of each outfit on my blog along with information about human trafficking and links to donate. It was the best way I knew to encourage people to get involved. After all, it wasn’t going to do any good for me to wear the dress if nothing actually changed.

I asked people to donate to six organizations, all working in different ways and places to end human trafficking. But as the year went on, I wasn’t making the progress I’d hoped for. People told me they were impressed by what I was doing, but the fundraising total didn’t move far or often. By the middle of the year, I was feeling like a failure.

Actually wearing the dress every day was easy—the things wearing me down were putting together outfits, making sure I’d taken photos of said outfits, and coming up with something to put in my blog posts every day. And when my fundraising wasn’t moving as quickly as I’d hoped, I couldn’t help feeling that if I were doing all of those things better, people would want to give more money.

Thanks to all the people who did donate, I raised $8,615. It was awesome. I got to watch God move in the hearts of people around me as they chose to get involved. They, too, couldn’t know that human trafficking was happening and not do something about it. And because of the dress, I got a front-row seat to see what can happen when we partner with God in his work of justice.

But I also only raised less than 10% of my goal. I had a nagging feeling that I could and should have done more to get people to donate. Maybe I just wasn’t good enough.

That was when God reminded me that it’s not my job to save the world. In many ways, wearing the dress and falling short of my goal showed me how little I can do and how inadequate I am. Because saving the world isn’t my job. What a relief.

It’s my job to use my voice, to talk about the things I’m passionate about, to do the things God has placed in front of me in partnership with him. But he’s the one who makes things happen, and it’s his heart for justice and for seeing the oppressed go free that should motivate us in our work.

I’m grateful I got to do this project in high school. I believe that God works through young people. So if that’s you, the one thing I would tell you is do it. Work for the thing that puts a fire in your bones. Just remember that the work is not who you are, and it does not rest on your shoulders. If you can, find some friends to do it with, too. Seeking justice isn’t a journey we can or should make on our own. And know that we’re cheering for you.

Recent Updates

×

Share with Friends