Graham crackers and frosting, it's one of my favorite snacks. I was happily partaking in this delicious treat on my lunch break when a call came in from an unknown number. Like most of you I'm always hesitant to answer unknown calls but considering our ministry, I always do.
God's timing is perfect. Any other time of day and I would have been busy engaging a classroom full of teens and preteens hoping to maintain sanity for just one more day. But it was lunchtime (did iI mention that? I really like food :) ) and I was ready as ever for what would come next.
The voice on the other end was unsure and quiet, "is this a helpline?" "Yes!" I replied as I quickly swallowed a mouth full of graham crackers. " I want out of this life and I heard you can help, I'm ready to go today."
And ready she was. M had packed a few belongings and snuck away while her pimp was out. As soon as she was safe she called me. I gave her a number to call for a safe house and called the woman who runs it to let her know she should expect a call. Within 2 hours she had been picked up and was being taken to safety.
As she waited we talked more and she told me pieces of her story. She has a daughter who just turned five and lives with her Grandmother. M told me of how she grieved missing yet another birthday, another Thanksgiving and that this would be the last.
She had been with her pimp for 3 years and had tried to leave before, running to a friend or a local motel, he always found her and with threats of violence or manipulation she returned with him. Not this time, this time she would go where he couldn't find her and where she could start fresh. This morning had been the last straw, after years of abuse physically and emotionally, he threatened her with a gun this morning. She could have continued hiding in terror but somehow found the strength to run, to run towards freedom and...hope.
Hope is hard to come by in the life. All you've even known is a life of worthlessness and abuse, you have little skills or education, those closest to you have betrayed you. Hope is the greatest need for with even a glimmer of hope comes the possibility of a greater life.
In the middle of our conversation she said, "I've talked to you before, my number was different then." I immediately knew who she was, a young woman we'd been praying for the last several months and had lost contact with. I couldn't believe it was really her, I had feared the worst when we lost contact, knowing how dangerous her pimp was and here she was, not just alive but taking a step toward true life, the life God had intended for her.
We stayed on the line until just before the rescue team got there. Later she called me from her new home, her voice still quiet but this time rather than fear, there was a sense of peace maybe even... a sense of hope. She left a message thanking me and assuring me I would hear from her in the coming days.
The coming days...they will be some of the most difficult for M. She will have to face all the pain and suffering of the last several years, unable to numb it with the false affections of others. Her greatest fears may be how she will survive outside of the life or how anyone will ever truly love or accept her.
She won't do it alone, not that she ever was. Jesus has pursued her thus far, He has made a way for her today and ultimately made a way for her by His death on the cross, that she might be eternally loved and accepted by her very Creator. She is His beloved, may that truth take deep root in her heart and be the driving force of her life.
Thank you for praying for M and the countless others who share her story.