Today is Tuesday. I met up in a comfy home in the ‘burbs of Katy, Texas with some other women. It has been cold and rainy, so a pile tall boots sat by the front door. The smell of freshly brewed coffee hung in the air and a handful of children scurried underfoot, slamming cabinets and rolling toy cars along the floor.
While we made phone calls to sex workers.
We sat in pairs together with cell phones in hand and spreadsheets on computers, making call after call to various women selling themselves as escorts online. For each call, we entered numbers and names into spreadsheets, plus information about the ad and the call: visible back tattoos, face blurred, left voicemail. Before each call, we lifted up the girls by name: Gucchi, Fancy, Sammi, Grace.
Grace. This name stuck with me, though when I called Grace, an automated voice let me know that her phone will not accept blocked calls. Grace is a real person with a story. She has a life outside of what I see in her ad. Perhaps she has children or goes to school. Perhaps she is imprisoned and sold without consent. Perhaps she ran away from home and has a mother who prays for her—or a mother who kicked her out.
I don’t know Grace’s story and I did not get to hear her voice. But today, a group of us prayed for Grace and other women like her. Women who are in an industry that sells people. Some may have entered by choice, some by enslavement. However these women with real names and real lives entered into this world that sells people, leaving is not easy and exploitation is the norm.
Our phone calls offered hope by way of a phone number: a 24-hour hotline for Rescue Houston. Someone will answer the calls made and offer hope, offer help, offer the knowledge that someone is listening. A person is listening on the other line, but also GOD is listening. These calls made today and these voicemails left today may be one small moment in the story of someone’s escape. They may be a tiny part of someone’s freedom story and the story of how they met Jesus.
Today we were a bunch of ordinary suburban women. I sat at a kitchen table with markers and a Cars coloring book next to me, a nursing baby in my lap. I made 25 phone calls and had only one woman who accepted the phone number from me. She sounded weary. Hopeless. Joyless. I have no way of knowing if she wrote down the number or just pretended to. I have no idea if she will call, or what might come of it if she does.
Human trafficking sounds like such a huge, dark, overwhelming problem. And it is.
But human trafficking is also a problem that can be addressed at a kitchen table on a Tuesday morning in the suburbs by a group of ordinary women.
God can use ordinary people and ordinary efforts to do extraordinary things. This is something I hear again and again from my friend Jackie Hooks, founder of Pruning Hooks ministry in Katy, Texas. She is an ordinary woman taking part in God’s extraordinary work by showing up (even unshowered). Did you know that you could make a difference and be a part of something larger than yourself? Did you know that you can make a difference in the world of human trafficking from a kitchen in the suburbs? YOU CAN.
For more information on human trafficking and how you can be involved in Houston, you can check out Elijah Rising or Rescue Houston. Both partner together to help women who want to leave this industry and life but need help. (If you aren’t in Houston, search for a local organization that helps with human trafficking in your area!)
You CAN help, no matter what your situation. You can. You might not ever see the end of the story, but you can be a small part of someone’s story. Today, while nursing my youngest baby, I was a small part of stories unfolding even now. As I pray for these women whose names I remember, I am a part of God’s work.
This? Is one picture of what it looks like to help end human trafficking.