It is a Tuesday. I have made pancakes and packed lunches and dropped kids off at school. I even showered, a small luxury. I drive my van to a church in a strip center, parking just outside the front doors. There is a coffee bar just inside the doors, but I brought my own.
I sit with fourteen other women in a Sunday School classroom. We have laptops and smart phones on the folding tables. Someone brought tacos and homemade strawberry bread.
We hold hands and we pray, standing in a circle around the tables and the laptops, which are open a website where women in our city are sold for sex. We pray and it feels to me like Jericho. We circle a city with our prayer. I would like to see only rubble. I would like to see so many Rahabs with their red strings at so many windows, pulled to safety.*
We sit in pairs and we make notes in a spreadsheet:
bruising on her face and inner thighs
tattoo on her lower back
more than one girl
duffle bags visible in the corner
looks younger than she says
just in town for the weekend
All of these notes are so many tiny pieces of code that later detectives will inspect. They will look at reports and missing persons and photos and these notes and sometimes, just maybe, they will find something significant that leads to an arrest. A girl brought home to her mother.
We make these notes and then we pray by name, even if the names are not real names. God knows their names and their blurred out faces. He knows. He is the God who sees.
Sometimes the numbers are disconnected—the girls have been moved.
Sometimes the mailbox is full.
Sometimes they do not accept blocked calls.
Sometimes a girl answers.
Sometimes she says, “I chose this.” And maybe she did. Maybe. But this woman was a young girl once. She dreamed of being a mother, a teacher, a firefighter, an astronaut, a veterinarian, a singer, the president. She did not dream of photos posted on the internet. She did not dream of being sold for sex. She did not dream of how some choices can seem impossible to un-choose. Or of a pimp who might tattoo his name on her neck like a brand.
Sometimes she says yes when you offer her a hotline number. Sometimes she writes the number down. You tell her that someone is waiting and will pick her up within 30 minutes. You tell her that yes, they will pick up her four kids too. Yes, they will help you start a new life. Yes, they can help your one month old.
You try not to think too hard about what it must be like to be sold for sex one month after having a baby. You try not to think about where those children go when the men come. You try not to think about what life might be ahead for them.
Sometimes she says yes when you offer to pray.
You pray for her and you ask God to protect her precious life, the precious lives of her children. You pray for her to be brave. You pray for an opportunity. You pray for hope. You pray for RESCUE.
I leave the church in my minivan and drive home where I pull out my laptop to write a blog post. I will make a sandwich for lunch, then pick up my kids. I will plan dinner and do dishes and maybe watch a movie with my husband after tucking the children into bed.
This is what it looks like to fight human trafficking on a Tuesday.
If you are interested in fighting human trafficking, there are many local and national resources. If you are in Houston, you can contact Elijah Rising and Rescue Houston for more information on how you might partner with them. Nationally you can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. You don’t have to make phone calls. You don’t have to leave your home. But also, you can. There are many ways to help and get involved. First, though, we must wake up. We must realize that within a few miles frhttp://kirstenoliphant.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpom our home, this is happening.
You can do something, even on an ordinary Tuesday.
*Joshua 6:23- So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.