Years ago, I was serving as Women’s Ministry Director at my church and had attended a leadership conference. I was praying about what our women could do outside of ourselves to minister to the community. I wanted it to be something practical, not something where they could just throw money at the issue. That’s too impersonal and safe. We started doing human trafficking seminars and selling jewelry through Women at War International because it was as hands on reminder of those that are enslaved in human trafficking whether it be labor or sex trafficking. The items are made by those who are rescued.

I also wanted to do something local, so we teamed up with a local agency who helped women who had been sexually abused. They are with them in the emergency room and help them through the trauma of doing what needs to be done to prosecute. In the process a woman has to give up all her clothing for evidence. We began supplying underwear, sweatpants, and shirts, as well as other toiletry items and a gift bag of hope that included basics like toothbrush, deodorant as well as a book that would give them hope (and share Christ) as well as chocolate!

The feedback we received was humbling. One woman was asked at the hospital when she’d last brusher her teeth. She didn’t even own a toothbrush as she’d been homeless. She received the gift bag and cried because now she had a toothbrush. Still gives me chills. How can you tell someone about Jesus without trying to meet their very real physical needs?

I also have a degree in counseling psychology and decided to explore the idea of human trafficking locally. We often think it happens in other countries, but it is prevalent in the United states—even in my small community. It isn’t a new problem either. It’s been around for a long time. I took a woman who didn’t understand this and put her in a horrible situation and helped her become a victor over that. The journey for her was difficult and I used the opportunity to how repressed memories and trauma can interact. How does one recover from that? She was a social worker as well. None of us are immune from trauma and it’s impact no matter how educated we are. Sometimes we don’t even recognize our own damage until much later.

Madi got her happily-ever-after which offers hope to anyone who has suffered abuse and sexual trauma. It’s not always a smooth or pretty ride either, but the journey can help others as well, as Madi did. Hopefully, the book raises awareness. We can all be a part of the solution if we are aware of what’s going on.

Women at Risk International and International Justice Mission are two Christian based organizations on the front line if anyone is interested in exploring further how they can help in the fight, locally or internationally.

Susan M. Baganz

 

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