Dear Precious One,
Last night brought the privilege of hearing first hand your amazing story of not just survival, but redemption. Privilege, because you have chosen to share your heart, your journey, your traumas – intimate details with strangers, and trusting that it will be received with grace and love and mercy. Trusting that it will move those in the crowd listening to “be the change” as you so aptly wrote inside the cover of your book.
What a privilege indeed, when you have all the reason in the world to never trust again. After all, where were we when you were being abused as a young child? Where were we when you fled your home at age 12, hoping to escape the abuse? Where were we when the trafficker scooped you off the street, taking advantage of your naiveté and vulnerability? Where were we when he conditioned you into believing you were nothing but a commodity to be bought, sold and traded? Where were we when you were arrested – a child treated as a criminal instead of the victim you were – and shamed for “what you had done”. Where were we when you finally found your way out, but still didn’t know you were the victim? Where were we when your police record continued to haunt you as you rebuilt a new life? Where were we?
For all of the times we were not there for you – we are sorry, so very sorry. Please accept our humble apologies; please forgive us. We didn’t know then. But we know now, oh, we know now.
We know now that human trafficking exists, not just “over there”, but right HERE, right in our very backyards. We know now that traffickers prey on the young, the weak, and the vulnerable – that the average age of victims is between 11-14 years old. We know now that traffickers are master manipulators and controllers. We know now that in your vulnerability, you could not see past the lies they fed you – that you were nothing, that no one cared about you, that this was all you would ever be. We know now that you were trapped in a dark, evil world and it wasn’t your fault.
We know too, that you are beautiful and brave, with strength beyond measure. We know that God will bring life from the ashes - that He will redeem all of the pain, not one tear will be wasted. We know that God has a plan and a purpose for you. We know that we are called to never let you be forgotten ever again. We know we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in finding you, serving you, loving you, standing alongside you, cheering you on.
And so, we promise you – an unwavering promise made with unwavering faith – that we are here now. We will learn to recognize the signs of the vulnerable as well as the signs of trafficking. We will read books and blogs and websites that can teach us what to look for and what to do. We will pray and knit and bake and sew for outreach to the vulnerable and exploited. We will renovate homes to create safe houses. We will shop with purpose to support survivors who are rebuilding their lives. We will be your voice in social and legislative circles. We promise we will be the change.
Grace and peace,
Your Willow Family