My story starts with my own perception of self-worth. Despite growing up in a loving home, I struggled with feeling unlovable for years.
After moving to Houston, I attended a lunch focused on human trafficking and prostitution. I was shocked to find that this is so prevalent in the world, much less in my new city. Over 25% of trafficked people in the U.S. are in Texas and another 22% of victims travel through Texas. I immediately thought of the women involved and how they must feel about themselves. This lunch introduced me to Rescue Houston, now Rescue America. I signed up to be a New Life Mentor because I wanted the opportunity to build relationships.
I initially had no idea what I was getting myself into and quickly learned of the darkness that exists. My first mentee described herself to me as disgusting. I remembered when I felt worthless and realized that though our background was very different, we shared a common trait - not feeling God’s love for us and not knowing our value.
Many moments as a New Life Mentor were tough, like going to the ER and to court. I helped one woman check into drug rehab, and another track down missing parts of her own identity. She didn’t even know her birth name.
Many moments also seemed very normal, like attending exercise class, attending church and talking about our hopes and dreams.
I’ve also seen incredibly pivotal and successful moments in these women’s lives. One survivor decided to testify in court against the pimp who hurt her for years. Another mentee found herself pregnant and decided to keep her child. We went together to her doctor’s appointment when she found out she was having a boy.
I used to enter into ministry expecting to see a happy ending. While there have been moments of joy, I’ve learned these stories don’t always end tied with a pretty bow. The devastation runs deep and it takes years to unravel, but God’s love extends into the darkest places, the places where you feel disgusting and the places where you don’t think anyone can love you. It’s a love that expects nothing in return, and quite literally changes lives.
It’s easy for me to think that I’m not like women in the sex industry. I’ve never received money for sex, so I’m different, right? But if you have ever looked to men to validate your worth, through physical interaction or not, you can relate. If you’ve ever used power in a relationship to get something, you can relate. If you’ve ever been taken advantage of, you can relate.
It wasn’t until I fully grasped God’s love that I began to understand my value. I learned my worth is determined by the one who created me. God loves me so much that He sent His son to die for me. Working with these women gave me the chance to remind them of their worth. They are worth dying for. These women have the opportunity to break away from physical slavery and when they understand how loved they are, they have a chance to really be free.