This is the true story of an intense encounter between former sex slaves and author Christine Caine. As Christine reveals in this excerpt from Undaunted: Daring to Do what God Calls You to Do, the sex slaves had just recently been freed by police — but were perhaps still less than free.
I was personally very moved by this story. I’m thankful that Christine shared it so that I could share it with you here. -Adam Forrest
“Why are you here? Why did you come?”
Though no longer in a physical prison, Mary remained silent, constantly tormented by recurring nightmares. The daily horror may have ceased, but the pain screamed nonstop.
Mary was safe but not yet free.
Stunned, I sat quietly for a moment after Mary finished her story. Around me, the young women at the table remained quiet too, almost reverent… Questions hammered at my broken heart: How could this possibly happen in our world today? No matter how much money is involved, how can anyone be so depraved as to make sex slaves of others — let alone make it an international operation, enslaving not just one girl but hundreds of thousands, again and again and again?
Sonia, a Russian girl who had arrived at the shelter the previous day, interrupted my flood of thought. “Why are you here?” she demanded, her eyes narrowed with suspicion. “Why did you come?”
Her tone was angry, and I felt the distrust behind her question: Was I who I said I was? Was I someone who could help? Or was I, like the hiring agents, untrue, unfeeling, evil?
How can I make her understand, I wondered, that I, too, know what it is to be trapped, enslaved, with seemingly no way out, no way forward, no way back? How can I make her see that, as bleak as her enslavement has been, there are prisons just as black inside oneself, prisons into which Sonia and many of the girls sitting here may have retreated? How can I make each of these girls know that I care in the same way someone once cared enough to come to me in my pain?
Oh God, I prayed. Help me help them! I breathed deep and looked at Sonia for a long moment.
“There is only one rescuer I know,” I told Sonia and the rest of the women, “with the power to free us from the darkest prison. That rescuer is the God I love, who loves us so much he left everything to come for us, to free us. He is the one who made us, each of us, for a unique purpose and a magnificent destiny. He makes right what the world makes wrong. His plans are for good, not for evil. His ways are straight and merciful. He came to give me a hope and a future — and to give you one too. His promises are true. His love is full of forgiveness and peace, joy and kindness, grace. He is the true rescuer. He saves us from any prison, whether physical or emotional or spiritual, the ones we’re forced into and the ones we fall into on our own. He chooses us. He can make all things new. He loves us without condition, unrelentingly, forever. He loves us broken, and he loves making us whole again. And he asks those of us who love him to love others the same way. To choose them. To be agents of his hope, his forgiveness, his grace. He asks us to join him in rescuing others.
“That’s why I’m here,” I said. “That’s why I’ve come.”
Sonia’s eyes filled with tears. I could see her grappling with the concept of unconditional love, the meaning of grace, of all things being made new. All the whys and hows of what I’d said furrowed her brow. All the what ifs and possibilities had died in her long ago. Yet here I was, resurrecting them. What if there are good agents and true promises and a merciful God who loves me and chooses me and can lift me from the impoverishment, the betrayal and fear, the hurt and horror? What if…
No! Sonia could not believe all this. It was too good to be true. She knew all about promises too good to be true. The risk of allowing hope to reenter her life, only to see that hope dashed again, was too much. Her anguish turned back to anger, and she pushed back from the table. “If what you are telling me is true,” she yelled, “if what you say about your God is true — then where were you? Where have you been? Why didn’t you come sooner?
Why didn’t you come sooner?
The girls around me didn’t move. No one spoke. But I could feel their eyes on me, their minds screaming that same question. I felt like Mary in that container, the weight of such a heartfelt cry pressing in on me like suffocating, airless darkness. I could barely breathe…
I would not offer excuses…
-From Undaunted by Christine Caine (@ChristineCaine)
Read the rest of this story in part two, How to Become Undaunted.
Learn more about Undaunted: Daring to Do what God Calls You to Do
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