Rescue House in Asia
The horror had left a physical mark, not just an emotional one on this beautiful young lady. Her eyes were downcast with sadness. I attempted to offer a smile in greeting, but was met with only a tiny lift of one corner of her mouth. She was new to the rehabilitation house and all of the girls were quick to surround her, offering her the comfort of community; they were her protectors now and their care was fierce.
Throughout the day, I learned her story. She was only 16 years old and had already gone through hell. Having been trafficked at the vulnerable age of 11, she had endured unthinkable abuse. Her “owner” would sell her to the highest bidder nightly. If the ones paying were bored, they could pay extra to execute inhumane cruelties on her—the last one so bad that she was dumped on the side of the road to die alone.
Sunita ended up at a hospital; she was touch and go. The medical staff was uncertain she could survive her injuries. This is how our rescue team found her. The hospital called and asked someone to be with and care for her as the hospital could not keep the round-the-clock vigil and they didn’t want her dying alone.
It was a slow healing process for her physical wounds. A year passed, to be exact, before she was released to leave the hospital. Walking was going to take much effort and rehabilitation. After 3 months at the rescue home, they wanted us to hear her story.
When she began sharing her story, every word dripped with pain and agony. At one point she just stopped. My thoughts were, I’ve heard enough! But the other girls encouraged her to go on.
I learned an amazing truth in that moment. A couple of girls around her moved in close, touching shoulder to shoulder. The young lady looked to her left at the girl standing close, and then she looked to the right at the other one. She then took a deep breath—strength flowing back into her—and she continued her story. I saw the strength and grace of standing together in the aftermath of terrible horror.
After hearing her story, I kept up with the young lady, checking on how she was doing and seeing the healing of her heart begin. Many times, I would see her off by herself and the others would reach out to her, drawing her into the circle. One day, in the middle of worship, I saw her reach out her hand and take hold of the hand next to her. I so rejoiced in that moment. I even saw her laugh at some of the antics of the other girls. I knew that like so many of the girls in that room, she was going to find healing and love in the name of Jesus, and that knowledge makes every effort, every labor, every dollar spent, and every prayer so worth it.
A few months later this sweet, young lady passed away. Her kidneys shut down due to the abuse she suffered in her short life. My heart was crushed when I heard the news. I so desperately wanted the Lord to fully heal and restore her. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. In those memories I remembered that for 8 months she knew the Love of the Heavenly Father and the strength and grace of sisters all around her. She knew the joys of being part of this family. She knew the companionable touch of a shared handholding and she did not die alone.
The number of young ladies who find themselves trafficked every year is staggering, but so few are being rescued. Experts estimate that there are more slaves today than at any other time in history—each one of them a daughter, a sister, or a friend who right now only knows deep loneliness, unspeakable cruelty, and abandonment.
We may not have been able to prevent their abuse up to this point, but we are able to play a part in their healing. And we can be a part of stopping it from happening to another young lady.