There were scars on her back and pain in her eyes. She was a 10-year-old child who didn’t know how to color. I met her while volunteering at a safe house for those rescued from human trafficking. I had brought a coloring book and a box of crayons with me that day, and I set them in front of her. She stared at them and then at me. I took one of the crayons and began to fill the black and white shapes with color. She followed. This little girl, her three siblings, and her mom were trafficked to the US for servitude and other awful things.
Afterward, I couldn’t get that day out of my mind. I kept asking God what could I do to make a difference? How could I use the gifts I have to reach these children? I believe everyone has a voice and the right to a meaningful existence where they are not a commodity, but a loved person who is priceless.
A year and a half later, my family and I moved to Virginia, and I started my law degree focusing on human rights. Now I’ve graduated, I hope to continue working with young victims of sex trafficking. The average age of those who are trafficked is 12 years old. Children who had their childhoods stolen and sold like objects. Sex trafficking is a difficult topic. I think we would rather believe people are not capable of doing that to a child. But it happens.
The work is hard, but I am hopeful. Recently, for the 1st time, a human trafficker received four life sentences for what he did. How it all came about was pretty amazing. It began with the rescue of a 14-year-old girl who had been trafficked when she was 11. She was then placed in an alternative restoration program and came to know Christ. At 15, she stood up and said she would testify against her trafficker. Her bravery gives me so much encouragement for pursuing this career.
Is this what I thought I would do growing up? No. I grew up in a small town of 66 people. We lived on a 400-acre farm with lots of animals. The nearest neighbors were half a mile away. I learned the value of hard work living in an agricultural environment. At a young age, I knew I would be willing to work hard for the things I’m called to do. A large part of that was because of my dad. He was my earthly father and my spiritual father, my biggest fan, cheerleader, and prayer warrior.
My father taught me that life will have challenges, and what’s important is what we decide to do with those challenges. You could allow failure to define you or refine you. Do you lie down or do you stand up and walk? You have a choice. Losing my dad was the most challenging event in my life. I felt I lost my tangible voice of reason, for he was the one I always went to when life didn’t make sense. The person I could ask – why is this so hard if God called me to it? I miss him.
Knowing what I know now, I am so grateful our children have my husband as their father. Feeling loved by your parents is not a given in this world. My happiest memories are watching my husband with our children and witnessing him reflect the unconditional love Jesus has for us. The moment our kids were born, I saw the love of Christ in action at a level I had not imagined.
My hope for the future is to make a difference. Because I have children of my own, I want them to know we are fighting for them. And for the kids who don’t have parents, I want them to know there are people who will fight for them too. I want to be a voice for them until they have a voice of their own. I was once told that encouragement is to “throw courage at someone who needs it.” God has thrown courage at me, so I choose to throw courage at the next generation.
PS: The picture attached is of a pair of shoes found during a bust of a brothel where children were trafficked. You can see how small the shoes are….also, the number tags were placed on the children.