By Lori Lara
The topic of child sex-trafficking makes my skin crawl, my stomach turn, and drops my heart to the floor. Like most people, I shake my head in bewilderment wondering how anyone could profit from the luring, kidnapping and sexual exploitation of children. And what kind of criminal pays for it? It makes my blood boil. I just can’t take it in. It’s too painful, too unbelievable, and too unimaginable. All I have to do is picture my own children as sex slaves for a nano-second and I’m through the roof like a crazed mama bear fantasizing about what I’d do if I caught the perpetrator. If I linger long enough, oh, heaven, help me. I’d end up in jail for sure.
I was first introduced to the work of Agape International Missions five years ago when my dear friend, Amy, took me to a presentation at Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California. I fought back the tears as I saw photos and heard the miraculous stories of girls who were rescued by Agape from sickening brothels in Cambodia and how these girls were kept safe as they healed mentally, spiritually, and emotionally from their awful abuse.
Before Agape’s intervention, these fragile girls had no voice. No one was looking for them. They had no mama bear to save them. I left that first meeting five years ago thinking two things: 1. These people are anointed by God to do this work, and 2. I want to help them somehow, someday.
At the time of the presentation, I was newly in recovery from severe PTSD and major depression resulting from my own childhood trauma and I was having a hard time just keeping up with my responsibilities as a wife and mom. I tucked Agape in my pocket and prayed for the day when I’d be strong enough to join the fight.
God answered that prayer five years later when that same friend, Amy, gave me a very special bracelet. It was made by one of the victims Agape had rescued from sex trafficking. In addition to rescuing her and helping her heal from her wretched life in a brothel, they taught her how to make jewelry; so instead of her being forced to have sex to make money for her abusive pimps, she’s making jewelry to earn money to support herself.
Agape had me in tears again, and as I put the bracelet on my wrist Amy told me that Agape was opening a new location in our Sacramento area. A few days later, I felt the Lord move in my spirit. “Now,” he whispered to me. “Now is the time to help.”
I’m not a police officer, movie-star, media personality, private investigator, or law-maker. I’m a wife, mom, photographer, writer, and trauma survivor. How can I help? I quickly realized I didn’t need to know the answer. God knew. He had a plan. He burdened my heart and put Agape in my path, and it wasn’t up to me to figure it out; I just needed to reach out and offer what I had.
I called Stephanie at AIM in Roseville and told her my story. “I don’t know if I can help you, but I have a camera, a pen, and broken heart. Use me however you can.”
God has already empowered us to do the work of rescuing and healing by giving each of us special gifts and talents. As we follow him and learn to listen to his voice, we’ll see the work he wants us to join. That’s his part of the relationship. Our part is three-fold:
1. Pray for God’s leading,
2. Obey the stirring he puts in our hearts, and
3. Offer everything we have.
He’ll do the rest.
Instead of asking what we can do to serve God, we need to ask what we will do with the gifts and talents God’s given us. The answer to that question could end sex trafficking forever.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (1 Corinthians 12:4-5)
Lori Lara lives in California with her husband and two sons actively writing for her blog Jumpingonclouds.com where she shares her story of hope and faith in Jesus and her recovery from childhood trauma, PTSD, major depression, and addiction. She serves Agape International Missions with photography and using her voice.