She tottered back and forth as she walked, wobbly on her high heels. The two girls giggled as the walked toward the coffee cart at church...to get lemonade. They looked all of 11 years old and so proud to be wearing "high heels".
Do you remember your first pair of high heels? I remember my grandmother's closet FULL of shoe boxes! It is one of her loves, shoes. She would let me play dress up, wear her jewelry and play in her make up. I felt like a princess, beautiful, magical, special, cared for.
My first real high heels were for my aunt's wedding. I was the flower girl. I had a pearl necklace, a sweet yellow dress, and high heels that I proudly wobbled in for maybe an hour before a blister and the allure of still being a little girl had me kick them off to dance around at the reception.
There was another girl. She looked 16. Maybe older. Until you got closer. She was about 11. She wore too much make up and walked with self-assurance in those heels. She doesn't have the giggly, secure appearance of a little girl with dreams. She has too much reality. Reality that has hard biting edges.
There might be drugs.
There is probably hunger.
There is most likely sexual and physical abuse.
There is most certainly pain.
When she walks down the halls, it is of a school if she's lucky. But not likely.
Otherwise, it's the hallway of an apartment where a man has dropped her off. He stands guard until she's finished. Or rather until they are finished with her. Then he collects money and takes her to the next "appointment".
Or transport that girl to another place and she has never seen a school. Maybe never had a bath. Yet men walk down the line, choose her and take her down the alley to a room. Pay the fee and they can use her how they wish until their time is up.
It takes my breath away to think of a child being used this way. Yet is happens over, and over, and over.
Do we even see these girls? Do they live where we live? Or are they carefully hidden from sight? Prostitute. Such a hard word. Intimidating. It has always implied a certain choice to me. Until I began to see each girl. And realized their reality.
One in four girls is sexually abused. Most "prostitutes", if not all, were sexually abused runaways. They tried to leave the abuse. They tried for a better place. A safer place. And they were met with someone who instead broke their will with violence, isolation, substance abuse (possibly forced). Then they are tattooed with their pimp's name and forced to do his bidding by starvation, physical violence...
Atlanta is one of the top cities in the US for child trafficking.
The average age of a child when they are first used for prostitution is between 11 and 14.
Some as young as 9.
This feels so personal to me. You see, I have 5 girls in my house. They are precious to me. But not just that, but their earliest beginnings could have led down this same path. Several of our children were around the types of people that could have put them on that same journey.
Have you ever seen the hard edge of a 4 year old who doesn't trust anyone? Have you ever heard a word you wouldn't say out of the mouth of one who is just a babe? Seen or heard them do and say things that let you know that they've seen the latest horror flick or Miley Cyrus dance move?
God has deviated my children's lives into ours. I have watched a child go from cynical to so sweet and kind, you would not believe it was the same child. I am praying to see it again and again and again now. I am hoping that this deviation has changed the course of their lives forever but I weep to know they could have ever been on this path.
What takes my breath away is the others. The children we do not know about. The children who don't have someone saying, "We will step up. Why not us?" They are out there. They are just babies. They could have been my babies.
And it is time for The Church to step in. It is time for the people of God to act.
It brings to my mind the movie "Courageous". The end scene is a call to action. "Where are you men (and women) of God? Where are you mighty men (and women) of valor?"
I would ask you the same question. Where are you?
We are able to do what we are doing because a community of courageous men and women are stepping up to help us. They are being the hands of Christ to our children just as much as we are. Because without our family and friends who are serving us we would utterly fail in this mission God has given us. He has put us in relationship with those who will hold us up with we falter on this journey, which right now is daily, hourly, minute by minute. But we are held up by so many, we cannot help but succeed.
God may not be calling you to bring in children to your home but are you listening to what He is calling you to? Because He is not prompting you to comfort. We cannot call ourselves Christians and sit complacent in our homes doing nothing. If we do, we owe those children we are failing a huge apology.
For more information on statistics around sex trafficking and how you could get involved to help here is a great website (it's where I got most of my facts):