It was a snowy Sunday. A freezing, icy rain kind of snow day. I was in a bad mood and I refused to be comforted by God or anyone else. I was angry and I felt like my old self. I lashed out at my son’s father and at God for no good reason. I couldn’t pray. I needed to nap and I slept for 3 hours. When I woke up, the anger was gone and I was ready to start my day over again.
As I turned my phone on, the video I forgot I was waiting for was there…
The trafficking survivor that I’m mentoring was being baptized at the church she attends while in a safe home out of state.
I met “Annie” about a year ago. She came to the halfway house I was working in and she was a mess. We connected right away and we talked a lot. I gave her a copy of Jasmine’s book and a Bag of Hope. I didn’t see her for two days. Finally, she came running into my office, excited and crying at the same time. She threw the book down and said “this is my life! I need to meet this Jasmine lady”. I gave her Jasmine’s number and they talked on the phone a few times. She was beside herself with her new found knowledge. She was no longer a victim but realizing she was a survivor. Sadly, three weeks later, she left the program and went back to her trafficker.
Over the next year, I began building a relationship with her by coming alongside her as she struggled to figure it out. She was an alcoholic but her real addiction was to her trafficker and the lifestyle the commercial sex trade brings. She went in and out of detoxes and recovery homes so much that her insurance was about to cut her off. I continued to guide her as she explored the Christian faith, teaching her who Jesus is and how He can help her find out who she was created to be. Later in the year, I picked her up from a hospital after another suicide attempt and was taking her to another program. It was while driving down the highway, she accepted Christ into her heart. It was a beautiful moment. We both cried and I knew God was working in both of our hearts that day.
A month later she left that program and I was heartbroken for her. She didn’t seem to be “getting it”. I also felt like I was enabling her to continue down the wrong path. I told her she couldn’t contact me again until she had 6 months clean. She understood, but it was a hard conversation. About 2 weeks later she called and I hesitated to pick it up. She told me overdosed and almost died. She sounded so sad and desperate. At that moment, I felt the Lord speak to me and then through me. I asked her if she was ready to leave the state and seek further treatment in a safe home. Because earlier in that week, I had met a woman who runs a safe house in Alabama for trafficking survivors. Without hesitation, she said yes! Two days later she was on a plane.
Two months later, she was back in Boston because she was asked to leave the home due to an altercation with another resident. She asked me to help find her another program that was out of state. I brought her to my house and for the next two days we made calls and referrals to different safe homes across the country. She picked one in Pennsylvania and left three days later.
While she was staying with me, we talked a lot about her time in Alabama and how she felt closer to God than ever. It was there, that she finally could see that He was truly working in her life. And that she could make it.
While at the latest program, she has gone down into some valleys. Her past trauma is starting to come to the surface and the emotions she has been numbing for years are starting to come alive. She is scared. She doesn’t know how to handle the feelings and she is letting her anger get the best of her. We have spoken a few times since her baptism. I am happy and excited for the new milestone in her life. I encouraged her to keep trusting God. She is afraid to mess up and doesn’t want to let her family and God down. I told her how I screwed up shortly after my baptism and reassured her that we all make mistakes. What I’ve learned is that, it’s about progress – not perfection and God can use it all. I reminded her that the same power God used to raise Jesus from dead, is inside of her and the Holy Spirit will teach her how to use it.
Please keep her in your prayers. We know that the enemy will relentlessly remind her of who she was in the past. We also know that God is in the business of redemption and often uses our past failures to bring Him glory! Walking alongside women who have been trafficked isn’t for the faint of heart. I am so grateful to have these front row seats into her transformation. It makes the work I do – worth it. I am grateful that God has set me on my own path to healing and recovery so I can show other women how to find freedom. We all walk it out differently but the enemy will use the same lies to keep us in the cycle of shame. The difference is that God uses His love and promises to comfort us and bring us out of that cycle and into His arms.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV)
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ”
Written by: Anita, Recovery Coach and Mentor for Bags of Hope
Edited by: Jasmine Grace. Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved.