It is important in all of our efforts to reach out to those who are in sex trafficking to consider this, “We are inviting them out of this life and into what?” What hope are we offering? The journey of healing from the exploitation of trafficking comes in many different ways. At Shelter and Rain, one of our core values is restoration. The restorative journey is about embracing a life free from torment, of uncovering unhealthy patterns, mentalities, and allowing hearts and bodies to heal from the trauma of exploitation. It is wholeness in the midst of the reality of broken dreams, promises, and plans. It is not as some would say, “Oh that person has never been touched by pain or trouble…” but a wholeness because they have come face to face with who they truly are. Part of restoration is rediscovering purpose, dreams, and setting new goals. As when a home is restored, there are parts of the frame perhaps architectural designs that speak of what once was. In a similar way, when an individual is restored, there are parts that still bear marks and that tell a story in the midst of transforming into something new. So what might this look like?
In Isaiah 61, God, the ultimate Healer, speaks of a restoration in our spirit, heart, mind, and bodies.
Spirit: There is Good News!
The good news is FREE ACCESS TO GOD. No matter how much money in our possession, our spirits are in poverty without experiencing the life Jesus came to give - life with full access to a loving and redemptive God. The message of salvation is eternal life, freedom from torment and fear. How will those in exploitation know that something different than their norm is available unless someone steps in to pave the way? How we live our lives is the way that people taste who God is and the life that is also available for them to experience in the here and now, not when xyz has been accomplished. Much damage has been done in the name of Christianity, due to judgement and a lack of authentic love. When we love someone by enjoying them and valuing them where they are at, we proclaim the good news, you are a child of God! Have you ever taken the time to ask someone, “What have you always dreamt of doing with your life?” When we tap into the deeper desires of someone’s heart, we touch an eternal part of who they are, the place where God was made to dwell.
Emotions: Bind up the Brokenhearted.
Listen and you will be entrusted with places of pain. Each of us carries wounds and those wounds hold beliefs about who we are which often influence our response to the world and how we interact in relationships. It is not our job to fix broken hearts. We are called to bind up the broken hearted. A wound first needs to be cleansed, for ointment to be gently applied, and a soft bandage wrapped around to keep out dirt and infection. One of the things I love is when I have the opportunity to walk with someone into Jesus’ presence in prayer and ask Him, “Jesus, what do you think about this?” Inner healing takes courage. I commend those who have allowed themselves to look honestly at the wounds they have incurred and let God speak into them. His words cleanse away the lies and are a balm of healing. When we came alongside someone, listen, wrap our arms around them, and affirm the truth about who they are, we become a part of the bandage of their hearts. Emotions should never be belittled or disregarded, they are the doorway into a heart that is crying out, that is struggling with life, with God, with people. When we are willing to stand in love in the midst of angry outburst of pain and see the message of the wounds they carry, we receive an invitation from heaven to join in binding up their wounds.
Mind: Speak Freedom.
Our minds are a battleground. A white flag waved in battle symbolizes surrender. There are pathways of thought that influence our lives that need to be surrendered. This often does not happen without a fight. We go to battle with habits of thought in order to create new pathways in our minds. Addictions run along pathways that have been created in response to traumas, choices, and situations we have believed as normal in our lives. Sexual addictions are a deep rutted road. To overturn this road we need to not only establish roadblocks but create new vehicles of response to our needs and desires. We bring restoration to minds when we help reawaken dreams, destinies, and longings for justice that have often been derailed from an early age. Mental freedom is a battle but liberty is always available to those who feel captive.
Body: Set the Prisoner Free.
Our prisons may look different but freedom from physical bondage often involves a deliberate move away from what is familiar into the unknown. No matter what level the exploitation has been, it is a risk. Are we willing to walk with others as they courageously step out of exploitation? Will we embrace them even when they take a step back? When someone leaves exploitation it often takes a combined effort of resources and support. The environment and people they left met a felt need. Acknowledging what was good while separating from the negative is necessary in establishing a new normal. Grieving is a part of this process. Learning to listen to what our body is saying are ways we physically are restored. In Hosea we read how God led someone out of the life. The first place He took her to was the wilderness. We rejoice when someone leaves the life but to them it often feels like a desolate, lonely place. In this barren land God then speaks tenderly to her and it says that He turned her troubles into doorways of hope. There will be times those who have come out of exploitation will be overwhelmed by the trouble they experience in life as a result of what they have know. The promise is that on the other side of these troubles is a doorway into hope. We must speak hope and affirm our friends when they feel like giving up and going back. God brings restoration through a bond He creates built on righteousness, justice, steadfast love, and mercy. He is still doing this today. (See Hosea 2:14-20.)
A Safe Home:
Our vision at Shelter and Rain is to provide a place of healing, a safe home for women who have recently exited the life. The fulfillment of this dream will take a team effort. We believe the transforming power of God and encountering His love combined with a community of those who care and support these women in their restorative journey is necessary for this to be a success. This is a time when God is inviting us to join Him. What can you offer? We invite you to enter in to God’s restorative work today.