photo (103)Today is Front Line Friday and I have been asked by some of you to share my story, how I came to be involved in the fight against sex trafficking in America. So, in response to your inquiries, our front line guest is yours truly. I will keep to the general format of the day, answering some of the same questions I have asked my other guests. I hope you enjoy.

When did you first hear about the issue of sex trafficking in America?

It was May 2010. I was coming to the close of four years of workings for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as a sponsor for FCA at a middle school. I had also been speaking at ladies retreats, luncheons, and teas and well as at youth events. I was trying to figure out what God had nest for me when I was invited to a luncheon hosted by Wellspring Living. I had never heard of Wellspring Living or Mary Frances Bowley, but I went. Little did I know that attending that lunch would change the trajectory of my life and ministry. When I heard the average age of girl taken into the trade was between 12-14 God got my attention. I had just spent four years with girls and boys between the ages of 11-14. It was no accident I was sitting there. If I had known what God would call me to do and where he would take me, I might have gotten up and run out of that lunch as hard and as fast as I possibly could, but I’m glad I didn’t.

What books did you read about the issue?

I didn’t read a single book about the issue until I wrote Rescuing Hope. I felt like I wasn’t supposed to while writing. I wanted to hear first hand accounts from survivors, family members, detectives and such while writing. I only began reading other books after Rescuing Hope went to press. I have read and would highly recommend The White Umbrella by Mary Frances Bowley, founder of Wellspring Living, Renting Lacy by Linda Smith, founder of Shared Hope International, and Girls Like Us, by Rachel Lloyd, founder of GEMS.

How did you first get involved in the fight?

I laugh when I think of this questions, because it was so unusual. I first got involved in the fight by writing a book about it. I remember telling God He had the wrong person, to go ask Max Lucado or Terri Blackstock to write it because they were amazing writers and I didn’t know what I was doing. He clearly said to me,

If Max Lucado or Terri Blackstock write it and it’s good, people will not be surprised because they’re good writers, but if you write it and it’s good, people will know I did it.”

Needless to say, it was not the easiest way to step into the fight. As I interviewed survivors, they stole my heart and I began walking life with them as a result. As I tried to learn what was available for them, I came to meet amazing people like Pattie Harrelson, former Georgia state director of Not for Sale and communications coordinator for Out of Darkness. Anne Kerr, who was a volunteer when I met her but now leads True North Freedom Project, many, many wonderful people at Wellspring Living, and Jeff Shaw, founder of Out of Darkness before Out of Darkness existed.

Do you work directly with survivors and if so, how?

Yes, I do work with survivors. I am still walking like along side of the young ladies I met during the interview process. It’s been a wild 4.5 years. I have also become Mama to some of their friends from the life they’ve introduced me to through the years. I volunteer with Out of Darkness a lot so I have met several women through Solomon House, the Georgia safe house for women 18 and up coming out of the life. I also travel the country speaking on the topic of sex trafficking, raising awareness and rallying the troops to join their local front line organizations to bring this atrocity to an end in our country. It is so much fun meeting like minded people across the country working together for a common goal. I am like the cheerleader and PR representative for front line organizations. They are the ones who need our time, talents and resources to bring this to an end.

What is the hardest part of what you do?

Watching a girl walk away from hope. I’ve sat with girls in coffee shops, restaurants and parking lots trying to share hope with them, presenting their options and willing to walk it out with them and have seen the get up and walk away telling me no thank you or I’ve got this only to be back on the street selling themselves again and getting nothing in return. It’s gut wrenching.

What is the greatest blessing for you in what you do?

Seeing it work. Seeking a girl who has been raped, beaten and pillaged by so many finally see what Christ sees in her when she looks in the mirror. Seeing her go from a survivor who talks filthy for the shock factor and someone who tries to push me away, to someone who is thriving and hugs me as a sister in Christ. I love when I get to grab coffee with one of my girls or go see a movie with them and laugh like I do with my own daughter. When we’ve shifted from survivor and life line to two friends living life together and she hangs out with me because we’re friends not because she needs something from me. Only God can do that, and He gives us the opportunity to partner with Him. It’s a miracle.

Thank you to those of you who asked me to share a bit of my story of how I got involved in the fight. There is a place for everyone. I hope you’ll find your spot in the fight. If you need suggestions of where to start, go here. I love you and I’ll see you back here Monday morning. Have a blessed weekend.