I watched a video yesterday on sex trafficking in the United States that occurs off of I-20, a hot bed for this human cruelty. In this short twenty minute video I was given a clearer understanding of one of the fastest growing crimes in the world.
This video caused a deep sense of sadness and compassion for the pain of shame I know these women are in. I can’t say I relate on all levels, but on some I certainly can.
One level is the reality that there are predators and prey in the human kingdom just as in the animal kingdom, and because of man’s intelligence he can stoop to the lowest of levels to capture his prey by being able to determine vulnerability and weakness and knowing just the right time to swoop in. Unlike the animal kingdom, man doesn’t need sharp teeth or claws to hold onto his prey, all he needs is the shame that comes along with the sins he often fools them into committing and his victims are imprisoned in their souls to be used by him in whatever way feeds his appetite.
Another level I can relate is dark underworld these ladies live in; in the shadow of secrets in a place where so many others never see, and when they do often close the door, because they don’t really want to see it. Denial of the darkness seems to be the only way some believe they can function. I understand that, too.
I went to a ladies conference several years back where Diane Langberg spoke on sex trafficking. I didn’t understand at the time I heard her speak that I was held in the same slavery of shame these women she talked about were. I didn’t understand how desperately I needed the freedom Christ offered. As she described their suffering and the way Christ understood it, I began to cry and didn’t understand why. I felt Christ’s compassion for me through her words, calling me to freedom. I wish there had been someone to talk to that night about my own slavery, but I was rooming with my pastor’s daughter so there was no speaking to her about what was really on my mind. So I walked away from that conference believing the predator I was in a relationship with was God’s provision for me.
I know it might not make sense to some why I stayed in a relationship with this man for almost ten years. Obviously, there are some others in my former church that don’t understand either, because since I moved away women that I believed were my friends have ceased to communicate with me. I sent a couple of warm wishes at Christmas only to receive silence. I did hear, however from my former pastor’s wife only to inform me that my letter to my abuser, aka my former pastor, wasn’t read and that he wanted no further communication with me. After reading her letter, I’m having to remind myself that writing the letter to my abuser was more for me than for him. As my counselor told me, God knows my heart to forgive and to accept responsibility for my part and what I’ve done to make things right, and He’s the only One who really counts.
But those other people from my church do matter to me. I feel a deep sense of loss of the relationships I’d invested years in, those people I cared about and who now for whatever reason don’t want to communicate with me. It’s easy to feel sorry for myself and forget the ones that stuck by me… But the truth of the matter is some did and I know that those people are committed to a relationship with me no matter what. The others I suppose might be enjoying a life of denial where darkness only exists in the lives of those people like the women trapped in slavery off of I-20.
But here’s the reality – God has made it clear that the darkness of sin lives inside of all of us. Maybe some of us have trusted the Lord enough to not get caught in any major train wreck sins. Truly, I pray you stay the course. I have earned a doctorate in the school of hard knocks and the primary thing I’ve learned is God’s way is best. The ten commandments aren’t about being good enough for God or keeping God happy with me, rather they are there to keep us safe and healthy and in an environment where we can prosper the most in all the good God has for us. Satan doesn’t want us to have good, rather he wants us to think what we have isn’t good enough. Take it from me what Satan offers come at price too high to pay. I’d give anything to change things, but I can’t.
Maybe some haven’t had the opportunity to fall into those sins like I did. Denying that those opportunities exist won’t keep us from falling into those traps. Pretending like everything is fine won’t help either.
1 Peter 5:8 ESV
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
We have a worthy adversary. Most of us don’t like to think about him. We don’t want our family vacation ruined by the reality that terrible things often go on right behind the rest area where we stop to stretch our legs. I know I’d much rather spend my time grazing at a fine restaurant or watching a Hallmark movie that always has a fairytale ending, but I cannot afford to be so blind anymore pretending all that bad stuff is OUT THERE when the truth is, “…sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Gen 4:7.
Here’s the sobering reality, just as in the sex trafficking trade there is this giant realm of darkness that’s going on right under our noses – and it’s growing. Crime wouldn’t pay if people didn’t pay for it, and I wonder how many people in just my own community have paid for a woman in slavery. How many people at the restaurant sitting next to me? How many people in my work place? How many in my church? Statistics show that pornography is rampant in the church just as in the world. I’m encouraged that attention is being brought to this and that many are finding freedom. But I spent ten years in shame’s prison and rarely missed a Sunday at church. Maybe I was just a hypocrite or maybe there was no one in the church besides a predator that I felt I could talk to about what was really going on in my life. This needs to change.
Just as groups are popping up all over the world to help women escape sex slavery, I believe God is calling the church to become a safe place for sinners. A place where people can share their struggles and not be judged. A place where people aren’t afraid to tell there stories in an effort to help one another find true freedom and intimacy in Christ. A place where those trapped in the darkness of sin and shame and find freedom in the light.
This is my prayer for the church of Jesus Christ. For He came to set the captives free and we all are in need of this freedom.
Set me free of the chains holding me
Is anybody out there hearing me?
Set me free
Thank God for God’s instrument for freedom for me – my counselor, Sharon Hersh.
I absolutely could not do this without her!