(Photo courtesy of Katie Strandlund – A21)
The Purpose Behind The Passion
An Interview with Christine Caine
By Sarah Komisky
Dynamic and distinct are two words that coexist in the life of Christine Caine, however, she is keenly aware of where her help comes from and why that dynamite exists in the first place. The “Australian-born, Greek-blooded, lover of Jesus ” as she coins herself, is a triple threat international, author, speaker, and activist who fights to end modern day slavery with her organization A-21 (founded by her and her husband, Nick). Along with the Propel Women, an organization devoted to unleashing purpose in the lives of women, this Passion conference speaker discovered her own calling in a place of vulnerability and pain. Transformed by the love and grace of Jesus Christ, Christine continues to reach for all God has for her and for the generations to come. It is this very intensity and rawness that birthed Christine’s newest release, “How Did I get Here? ” which tackled her own doubts while giving others hope in the process. Today, I was able to sit down with the authoress as we discussed the meaning of calling, the purpose behind the passion, doing things with excellence, and why distinctness currently matters.
Marked Ministry: Christine, so thrilled we get to have this moment to do this interview with you. Thanks so much for stopping by Marked Ministry Magazine! Currently, we are in a series at our magazine called, “Back to Basics,” where we want to equip readers with truths to navigate the times we are living in. This month’s issue theme is called, “Distinct.” Moreover, you have a distinct calling on your life. For those who may not be familiar, talk about that moment when God first called you to do what you do today, which includes speaking, teaching, writing, advocating for injustices (particularly victims of sex trafficking), etc.?
Christine Caine: Thank you so much for inviting me! I love this month’s theme because every one of our callings are distinct. Though we are all made in God’s image, we’re all different from one another, and so are our callings and how they are outworked in our lives. When I gave my heart to Jesus fully, I was 21, and all I knew to say to God was that I wanted to be a God-worker. Having grown up in a very formal Greek Orthodox Church, that’s all I knew to call it. In my heart, there was this desire to give my all to God, so I started where I was, with what I had.
I first began volunteering at a local youth center. Then, when a friend invited me to church, I went, and it was completely different from the formal church I grew up attending. People were friendly, talkative, fun, and it was so evident that they loved worshipping Jesus. I couldn’t help but want to keep going. Over time, after volunteering to set out chairs for the youth on Wednesday nights, I got asked to help mentor the youth. From there, I just kept serving and being faithful. Eventually I was asked to lead the national youth ministry for our church. I traveled the back roads of Australia from town-to-town leading youth rallies and sharing the love of Jesus. It was in those early years of ministry that I stepped into more of my calling of being an evangelist and leading people to Jesus—and that’s what I’ve done ever since.
Our calling often remains the same, but how it is outworked through the years of our lives is what can change. While I always felt compelled to stand up against injustice and share the love of Christ, it wasn’t until about 13 years ago that I began to remotely grasp that there were men, women, and children around the world trapped in modern-day slavery.
I was in baggage claim waiting for my bags to show up on the carousel when I wandered past posters of missing women and children. That was when my eyes were opened to the horrors of human trafficking, and I knew God was calling me to do something.
MM: Many people want to be distinct when it comes to our style, our ability to stand out from the crowd, or do something that matters. Furthermore, we live in a culture that is doing more to celebrate distinctness. However, when it comes to our faith, there is this tension we wrestle with as Christians of living in the world, yet not being of it. Talk about this struggle and share what you think God means by living distinctly for Him?
CC: I understand how easy it might be to look around at the chaos in our world and think God must just be waiting to blow it up and start again—that he hates the world and how messed up it has become—but nothing could be further from the truth. God loves the world, so much so that he sent Jesus to the world, and then Jesus sent us. Even on the last night of his life, before he was crucified, he prayed for himself to be glorified, he prayed for his disciples, and he prayed for us (John 17). His final prayer to his Heavenly Father was so important: “I am not praying that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one….As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:15–18).
To live in this tension of being in this world, but not of it, I do all that I’m called to do—inside the church and outside the church. Granted, what I do frequently places me serving alongside other Christian leaders, often speaking in churches or other venues, but at the same time, I intentionally work at initiating relationships with people who do not yet know Christ. I purposefully change gyms to meet as many new people as I can. I regularly change where I go to shop, get a manicure, or have my hair styled. I do all I can to be salt and light in a world that needs to be shown the goodness and kindness of Jesus. I want to live distinctively, actively doing the last command Jesus gave us: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).
MM: Distinctness is a beautiful thing. A powerful thing. Yet, a very human struggle. We as Christians can feel pressure to simply blend in or go with the flow of culture even when it goes against God’s values and our morality. With that said, was there a time that you felt pressured to conform? If so, how did you work through it?
CC: Before I gave my life fully to Christ, I often did what everyone around me was doing. My father died when I was 19, and I didn’t know how to handle it mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. I spiraled into places I didn’t really want to be. But after I gave Jesus all my heart, my perspective and my behaviors slowly began to change. When a friend invited me to church, I found that being around other people who loved Jesus gave me strength, so much so, that I began to grow strong like they were. It wasn’t so much that I worked through the struggle as I gave myself more to Jesus and what he said in his Word.
MM: You have said, “we have a part to play” when it comes to ending modern day slavery. Expand on what it means to have a distinct part to play in the story of our lives and what it means to make a distinct impact on the world?
CC: God created us all to do good works, ones he prepared for us long before we were ever born (Ephesians 2:8-10). Ones tailor-made for us and directly tied to our purpose. Something we’re to be fulfilling until we take our last breath. When we do those good works, and the world sees them, it is God who is glorified. Isn’t that what we want more than anything?
Think about that in light of our world and all its challenges. Imagine the difference we could make in people’s lives if every time we saw injustice, we chose to get involved? Wouldn’t the people we help be far more open to us and to a God who cares deeply about them and their issues? Until Jesus comes back a second time to establish his physical kingdom on this earth in full, he wants us doing what he did. He wants us drawing people’s attention to God and his goodness, and all the ways he’s gracious, merciful, compassionate, and worthy to be trusted. He wants us to understand that we have not only been saved from something, but we have also been saved for something, and that is the work of his kingdom here on earth (2 Cor. 5:11–21). I fully understand that we can’t all do everything when we see injustice, but we can all do something.
MM: No doubt about it Christine, you are a powerhouse! You are bold, fiery, and confident, yet you are also human. Speaking candidly, there are moments when living distinctly can feel lonely because you can feel like you’re the only one taking a different path, making a different choice, or just doing something unique. And quite honestly, sometimes we can be the only one who is being intentional in living a “marked” life in our home, workplace, dorms, etc. In turn, how do you think we can become more aware in confidently knowing God is with us even when we may feel like we are the only one living distinctly?
CC: God has chosen each of us to make him known in this world. Isn’t that what he told us in Matthew 28:19? “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” God is fully aware of our flaws, fears, doubts, and insecurities. He understands that we may feel completely inadequate. After all, how can our minds not be flooded with a myriad of questions in response to this big calling? How can we not break out in a cold sweat when we think about what going into all the world might mean? Still, none of this is a surprise to God, and not one of our limitations daunts him. He knows all the people he wants us to reach. He sees and cares about them just as clearly and as deeply as he sees and cares about us.And so, he sends us, flaws and all. Better still, he promises never to leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
MM: Your newest book entitled “How Did I Get Here?” contains some of your own stories. And, on a social media promo video, you shared how you went through a season of feeling stuck. Share about how you worked through that time of struggle and what you discovered in it.
CC: For the first time in my life, I didn’t know if I wanted to keep pressing in and pressing on. Reaching out for the next thing. Pursuing the adventure. It wasn’t a crisis of faith; rather, it was a sober realization that, if I were to keep going, it would probably mean more sacrifice, more pain, more heartache, more exposure, more vulnerability, more attacks, even though all of that would mean more fruit.
I knew that deep down I loved Jesus and his plans for my life more than the place where I was, so there was no way I could not keep going. Still, I had drifted from seeing that to losing myself in my feelings. And my feelings were screaming at me.
Instead of letting myself spiral further, I turned and faced the journey ahead—one I had never expected. I had no idea what it would be like, but I knew that Jesus had always been the anchor of my soul, so I would find what I needed where I always had—in him.
MM: Anxiety is magnified amid chaos. Therefore, how can we cultivate the peace of God’s spirit within us to empower us to live distinctly?
CC: When I am feeling stressed and anxious, and I need peace of mind, there are times when I literally put my hand on my forehead and talk to myself: “Christine, God has not given you a spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind. You might not understand what is happening, but the one thing you know is that God has never failed you before, and he is not about to start now, so you know you can trust him now.”
It’s my way of reminding myself of what I know to be true, that I can put all my trust in Jesus, and he will help me. It brings me back to the truth of God’s Word and his promises of taking care of me, of never leaving me, of help me find the way forward in any situation.
MM: The times we’re living in have been turbulent and the injustice we see is both terribly sad and disturbing to say the least. Some have been standing up against injustice and maybe felt discouraged when they don’t see a desired outcome or feel burnt out when they are doing this advocating. How do you find renewed strength to keep taking a stand against the darkness, particularly, the darkness of modern-day slavery?
CC: We live in a world where there’s so much pain, suffering, grief, loss, sickness, corruption, crime, violence, and hatred that it’s easy sometimes to get turned around in our hearts and question God and his goodness. With the work of A21, if I didn’t know how to be honest with God and unload the pain in my heart, I would never be able to sleep at night. But because I’ve learned how to give him the burden of it, he carries what I cannot. I can take all my heartache at the millions of trafficking victims we haven’t yet reached and give it to God, then I can rejoice in the dozens that have been recently rescued. My shoulders are not broad enough to handle it any other way, to carry what all is wrong in this world and stay in a place of trusting God. I have to leave it at his feet. And as I do, I recognize and I realize that I am not alone in the suffering. I never have been; I never will be. And that helps me keep going, content to live in this space of divine tension where I can be faith-filled and expectant of the future, and fully engaged in the present—regardless of what it looks like or what is happening in our world. The gap between what is and what will be is where trust is needed most, and often where it is forged.
MM: 2020 was tough for everyone. Tough and tragic for leaders who had very public downfalls. As a leader, what is your encouragement to other influencers in living distinctly without throwing stones at others who have fallen?
CC: I have discovered that the most important work I can do is to allow the Holy Spirit to continually have access to the broken places in my life to bring further healing and wholeness. If there is a disparity between our inner worlds and our outer image, our world will invariably collapse. We all need faithful friends who can speak into our lives and hold us accountable to make sure that we are living the very things we are teaching. God cares about our character more than our accomplishments. The more we become like Jesus, the more we will act like Jesus. We must stay humble and tenderhearted, always heeding the conviction of the Holy Spirit and being willing to repent. It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance; it is a gift.
MM: Throughout writing your book, what was something that you learned about the distinctness of God through this experience?
CC: HE. IS. FAITHFUL. No matter what is going on in our world, even when it is something as big and difficult and traumatic as a global pandemic, God is faithful. He is faithful to us individually and collectively. Even when nothing goes the way we think it ought. In all my disappointments, he has been there. Even when I couldn’t see him or feel him. He will literally never leave us or forsake us. It’s a promise we can depend on.