I was sitting across the table in a warm coffee shop on a cold day, the clock was ticking. I had so many questions, but a language barrier and time were working against me. Within these limitations, how do you tell someone that they are being trafficked if they don’t realize it? How do you build their trust? What is THE most important thing that you can say at a moment like this?
A question was asked and she was waiting for my response. The question? What is your salvation story? My answer needed to be simple, concise, and it needed to cut straight to the heart of the matter. There was not time for hedging or offering an intricately woven testimonial–we could be interrupted at any moment.
Fortunately I had a visual aid with me in the form of a gift that I had carefully chosen and wrapped for her. It was a beautiful leather bookmark with the verse John 3:16 etched on it. I had translated the verse onto a small sliver of paper and inconspicuously taped it to the backside of the bookmark.
When I asked her to open it, my words came faster than I could process: this is the point, this is what matters most. Her follow-up questions allowed me to share my personal story and throughout the process, her facial expressions told the story of a woman who was making connections in her mind. Something was clearly happening inside, a ‘lightbulb moment,’ if you will.
Some people might question my approach. Why not take that precious time to convince her that she’s enslaved? My experience with counseling individuals has shown me that freedom, even the hope of it, begins in the mind, with Jesus as the catalyst. I knew that in my very brief time with her, I needed to offer her hope beyondher current circumstances.
She would soon leave the comfort of the coffee shop and go back to the brothel, where men of all ages and professions, married, and single, would come calling. Her time on the “outside” is tightly controlled; cultural isolation and her total financial dependence insure that she won’t try to leave.
Has she been threatened? Her family back home likely has no idea how she earns her meager pay…in fact, a threat to their lives may have been used as an incentive to keep her trapped. She doesn’t know what it’s like to have choice, safety, security, family closeness, joy and freedom. Instead, she has become a commodity with no name, her only value in the money she can bring in for her trafficker.
This is what happens, hidden in plain sight in our communities. Every single day. But Catalyst Ministries won’t give up in the fight for freedom for these women. We serve a God who sees them, knows them by name, and has assigned the highest value to them. Therefore as children of God, we are called to love in the same way…and we do.