While I was stumbling around in the dark the Spirit secretively stuffed my pockets full of unsuspected blessings. I say “blessings,” yet not necessarily the ilk you might suspect. Not all of God’s blessings feel good. In fact some of them feel downright unpleasant, especially the ones where you feel someone else’s pain in your heart, otherwise known as empathy or compassion. I want compassion, and I do seek it, but I don’t always like it when I get it. Identifying with the hurts of another human means you hurt with them, so I tend to seek other blessings before this one.
Although we could be talking about human suffering in general, the hurt to which I refer in particular is the helplessness and hopelessness that an enslaved human being must feel. As hard as I try, or try not to as the case may be, I can only wonder how an abducted child must feel when the lights go out in their world with no promise of ever turning back on. What would it do to a woman’s psyche to be bought, sold, and raped multiple times a day for years? I make no claim to know, but I do seem to care about them more these days.
As this unsolicited empathy grew inside me I began to feel that I had to find some achievable outlet for it. Some abolitionists do prevention, some are involved in intervention, while others perform aftercare. Soulless traffickers throw human beings into a sewage-filled river to drown in human waste. For mere financial benefit they rent out the bodies of women and children to perverse men, not caring if they live or die. Prevention is upstream justice and intervention is mid-stream justice yanking victims from slavery. Those who do aftercare find comatose souls downstream on the riverbank, perform CPR, and bring them to a safe and therapeutic environment. Even after victims escape the sewer, the stench of it remains in their smeller. Only the Maker can repair that kind of damage done to his beloved, but he nearly always uses people to help people.
Not to minimize the horrific PTSD our soldiers suffer from when they return from the battlefield, but at least they signed up for combat. Trafficked individuals are victims of force, fraud, or coercion. Empowering survivors in their journey of moving out of their past trauma to a future of independence and self-sufficiency requires a live-in holistic approach. One such ministry in our Bay Area is called Freedom House.
– Originally published in The Other End of the Dark: A Memoir About Divorce, Cancer, and Things God Does Anyway (the profits of which go to Freedom House).