I suppose that you, like me, have a hard time wrapping our mind around the sexual trafficking industry. It’s not something that is easy or delightful to consider at all. The stories rip at your heart, turn your stomach and force you into turning away or moving toward those enslaved by evil.
Recently I’ve read two articles posted by Seth Barnes that helped me begin to understand what it must be like to be one of the 1.2 million children who are enslaved in the sexual trafficking industry. I have quoted these articles together below in the order that I read them. I pray that they move you to action.
She was enjoying a day off with her friends swimming. She saw her friends entering a dark tunnel ahead and decided to follow them, but followed the wrong channel and felt herself being swept away, unable to slow herself. The current swept her in complete darkness. Here’s the story in her own words.
I slammed into some kind of concrete wall. My nose was still under water. I couldn’t breathe. All I wanted to do was breathe.
My heart was pounding. I was choking on water. I flipped onto my back to float so I could breathe. Terror seized me. I began to yell. I screamed the names of the friends I thought were with me. No response.
Once I realized I was the only one in the tunnel, I knew it was a bad, bad situation. I realized I was apparently supposed to have turned somewhere and I didn’t. The pressure of the current was too strong for me to swim back.
I thought my only hope was praying for another waterfall ahead.
After a bit of a struggle, I saw a pinpoint of light in the distance. I thanked God there was another waterfall and I couldn’t swim there fast enough. I just wanted out. Out of this nightmare.
As I swam up to the light, I realized it was not a waterfall; it was an iron grate about 20 ft above me that the sun was shining in.
In front of me was a metal wall. The tunnel had ended and I was trapped. I felt like a victim in a horror movie. I was scared. I began to cry. I realized it was probably my last day on earth.
I yelled. I yelled again “HELP ME. SOMEBODY HELP ME.” I knew I had no human help. God was the only help I had.
I started praying out loud, “GOD I NEED YOU. GOD PLEASE BE HERE. GOD SHOW ME YOU ARE REAL.”
He said back “Liz, you know I am real. Don’t question me now.”
I started fighting the current and it pushed back at me. I prayed again. I tried again. It pushed me back into the wall.
I prayed again. I told God, “You are good. God, if this is your plan for my life then okay, you know the plans.” I asked “Was giving my testimony that one time my purpose in life?” I prayed “Please don’t do this to my parents. Please don’t do this to my family. Please God.”
I started fighting the current again. I pushed my body against the concrete hoping the current wouldn’t push so hard if it was just pushing against my backside. I ran my hand over the concrete above my head and found a crevice for 2 of my fingers to go in. I pulled my body against the current.
I prayed for help. I asked for strength and endurance. I knew this was a long tunnel. I prayed for more crevices. I felt another crevice an arm’s length away.
I prayed aloud for strength and endurance as the current pushed against my body in the dark tunnel. After 15 or so minutes of finding crevices and pulling my body with God’s strength, I stopped to rest. I just wanted to catch my breath.
My legs got swept out from under me and I found myself holding on by my fingers. I was exhausted but I knew I had to fight. I was fighting for my life.
I prayed. I knew the reason we pray from the passage I read in Matthew right before the falls. We pray because our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak. My flesh was ready to give up.
My arms were shaking and I was exhausted. I felt like I was going nowhere. But my spirit wanted to fight. My spirit knew God’s strength and goodness. My spirit knew that it wasn’t going to be the last day of my life.
So I continued there in that pitch black tunnel feeling my way around while begging God for direction.
For more than an hour I fought on like this.
And then about 100 yards ahead, I saw light .
I knew I was closing in on the waterfall. I started praising God and asking for more strength.
As I got closer I started yelling for help, but all I could hear was the rushing of the falls. I knew God had given me the strength thus far; He could give me the strength to endure until the end.
I started fighting harder, pulling my body weight with my fingers faster and faster.
And then – I made it! I was exhausted spiritually and physically.
Once outside, I sat on the rocks, overcome. And when I caught my breath again, I told my friends the story. To have been able to pull myself along like that over what must have been at least 300 yards seemed impossible. I shook my head in wonder at how God had given me strength.
On the way home, God gave me a vision of what had happened. He showed me a picture – there I was, slowly pulling myself along in the darkness, but this time I saw in the vision that I wasn’t alone!
Now I could see that there were three angels with me. One was behind me pushing me. Another was in front pulling me. And in front of that angel, another wielding a sword was leading the way and fighting for me.
The vision overwhelmed me. I always knew God loved me. But at a point when my life hung in the balance, he sent his angels to fight for me and save me.
Having been given my life back, I know, I can never be the same.
In the last post, Liz Ogletree describes her experience of escaping death in a dark tunnel. She and her team went from Central America to Thailand where they ministered to women caught in the sex trade. While there, Liz asked God to help her understand what they go through. In response, God took her back to her experience being trapped and feeling like she was going to die.
After I asked God to show me what it felt like to be trapped in the sex trade, He took me back to the day I got trapped in the tunnel in El Salvador. He brought all the emotions flooding back. He then told me the feelings I felt that day in the tunnel are the exact feeling many of these prostitutes feel. TRAPPED. As I pictured myself back in that dark tunnel, I started to cry. I didn’t want to be there. I wanted all of the feelings to go away. I was overwhelmed with fear; overwhelmed with a loss of hope; overwhelmed with the feeling of death. I was scared. I felt there was no way out.Although I know the ending, today I was put back in that place and experienced all the emotions once again. I was able to feel exactly how many of these girls feel. LOST. HOPELESS. SCARED. DEAD.As my mind left me sitting in the tunnel, I got nauseated. Literally, I felt like I was going to throw up. My mind kept replaying it in my head.I started remembering how difficult it was to fight the current. How every time I would pull, I had to use every ounce of strength in me and the water current still fought me. It tried to force me back into the trap. Back into the darkness.Even if these girls decide they want out of prostitution it seems hopeless. They have to fight the world. They have to fight everything the world says they are. They have to use all of their strength not to get drug back to the same dark spot at the end of a tunnel.
The thing is, I didn’t do that with my own strength. As my mind kept wandering today, I could feel the tiredness in my arms. I could feel the exhaustion from fighting the current.
I realized how there was truly no hope in my own strength that day. There was no way I was coming out of the darkness on my own. If I would have tried, right now I would be dead in the back of that dark tunnel.
The same goes for these women trapped in the sex trade. They can’t do this in their own strength. They can’t fight the world on their own. They need Jesus Christ.
He wants to send angels to save them and pull them from the darkness they are trapped in, just as He sent angels to save me from the dark tunnel I was trapped in.
It is crazy that as the Lord has taken me back to that day, each time He reveals something new. The first thing He showed me was how much He loves me.
Now as I process this again, He is teaching me that He is trustworthy. I can depend on him. I don’t have to worry about my future. Finding a job, having enough money to support myself, etc. As my mind goes back in the tunnel, I know I don’t have to fear.
I should be dead, but I am His child and He loves me and rescued me.
Just as God delights in me (Psalm 18:19), so He also delights in these women. He loves them. They are His children and He wants to rescue them from their darkness.
He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
(Psalm 18:19 ESV)