Anna's Story, The Exodus Road

Hope {Anna’s Story – Part 3 – Rescue is Coming}

Anna’s story continues today with the beginning stages of her rescue. This part of her story (and the part we’ll read next week) is based off of two other documented rescues from organizations who work to save those trapped in human trafficking (Sarah’s story and Minati’s Story). Because I’m writing from Anna’s perspective AND because organizations have to keep a lot of their investigation techniques secret for safety reasons, it is difficult to convey how these rescues actually happen. To find out more about the actual way raids and rescues happen, please check out The Exodus Road or Indian Rescue Mission, a partner of The Exodus Road who is making huge strides in rescuing girls in India.

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March 13, 2013

It’s only been a few weeks since I left home, but it feels like years. I try to make myself look happy and healthy for the clients to please the Madam, but it’s getting harder and harder. I can’t really eat. Even if I’m given time to sleep in between clients, I never really do. The workload just gets more and more the longer I’m here and the longer I’m here the less I feel like a person. Some of these girls have been here YEARS. Many of them now think that this life is just fine, they’ve given in to the fact that there’s no way out. Maybe that’s just the best way. I want to maintain hope, and God, I’m convinced that only you could save me, but I’m beginning to wonder if you ever will.

March 17, 2013

God, it’s so lonely here. While I want to give up hope that You are the good, faithful God I grew up learning you to be, I hold out hope if for no other reason than you can hear and understand me. The only other girl that spoke Russian has been transferred somewhere else and I have no one else to talk to. Thank you for being my friend. If you’re real, then be with me tonight and be with Mama and the kids. I know how much they were hurting financially and for Mama, physically when I left and that was when I was there to help them. Provide for them.

March 20, 2013

Something really strange happened today. After a few particularly rough clients, I figured the new ones coming in would take one look at me and pass me over, but one man, who seemed different from the others, picked me anyway. If that wasn’t weird enough, when we got back up to my room, he didn’t force himself on me right away. He didn’t even want ANYTHING from me in return for his money. I don’t understand it. He got on his phone and the next thing I knew I was talking to a woman in Russian… someone who knew my language! I didn’t really say anything to her as I was scared of what might happen to me. I said what I knew the owners would want me to say and even tried to say it with a smile to convince the man, but it was all I could do not just cry out for rescue. I don’t even know who to trust, but the woman tried to assure me over and over again that the man was there to help me and not to hurt me and that I could trust him. Give me wisdom God. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but maybe this is it? Maybe this is where rescue can happen. I didn’t tell him, but I’m tell YOU now, God. PLEASE RESCUE ME! If nothing else, please send that man back, he was so kind to me and after the phone call he just let me lie on the bed and rest while he sat on the chair for the rest of the hour.

Anna's Story, The Exodus Road

Anna’s Story: Part Two – Slavery – Laos

We’ve already journeyed with Anna through the process of being trafficked and today we venture deeper into part 2 of Anna’s story which involves her actual slavery. As you can tell from previous posts, I’ve chosen to write this story from the perspective of someone who knows Jesus. I did this for many reasons including understanding the reality that this can happen to ANYONE as well as imagining some of the struggles that might come in trusting that God even exists when one finds themselves in a situations like this. Yet, even amid the struggles and doubts Anna can draw hope and strength from Christ. However, we must remember that for many “Anna’s” around the world, a faith and hope in Jesus Christ is a completely foreign concept. They have absolutely NOTHING to draw hope from. As you read the next part of Anna’s story, pray for those, like Anna who do know Christ and ask God to encourage them and give them strength in that faith today. Also pray for those that don’t know Him, ask Him to work in miraculous ways to reveal Himself and His love and His hope no matter how hopeless their situations may seem. Lastly, continue pray for the many organizations, including The Exodus Road, who are working every day to rescue “Anna”s, and be a part of God restoring the world to himself. Check out the link above to see information about the latest rescues and ways to get involved.

Anna’s Story: Part Two – Slavery

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March 6, 2013
I’m so sick of this place, God. I don’t even feel like a human anymore. I never know when someone is telling me something true or when they’re just manipulating me into another awful situation. I tried so hard to get out of it. I demanded to be released… that only resulted in more… well, let’s just say I won’t do that again. Will I be here forever? I saw what happened to Alina and Regina when they tried to escape. I don’t have any money anyway and haven’t seen my passport since it got handed off to that Chinese guy on the bus days ago. So even if I got out, I wouldn’t make it far, especially since I kind of stand out here with my white skin. I guess the only way to survive is to just stay here. I don’t know how I’m going to go on. I don’t know if you can even hear me anymore God after all the things I’ve done but these few minutes that I get to sneak away with my journal every few days are the only thing that keeps me going so I guess you must be real in some way. If so, then help me do whatever they want me to do so I can stay alive.

March 10, 2013
Sunday. You would think being trapped in these dark rooms I’d loose track of the days, but I can always tell when it’s Sunday because we start earlier on Saturdays. I should be sleeping right now, especially with another long night ahead of us, but I can’t help but think of Marta, Ruslan, and Liza who are probably walking into the Cathedral in St. Petersburg right now. Do they even know I never made it to America? I can picture Pastor Peter at the front getting ready to teach from the Your Word. Oh the Bible. I wish I still had mine, but I’m so thankful for Mrs. Alena who told us to hide it in our hearts like Psalm 119 says. Sometimes some of those verses are the only thing that gets me through another night. Ones like Isaiah 41:10

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

If I’m honest, God it’s hard to believe that you are here, with me, in such an awful place. I don’t know if you’d ever come into a place like this, so dirty, so broken, but I remember the stories Mrs. Alena told us… I think there was even one about you talking with a prostitute. If that’s true, Jesus, then maybe there’s hope for me?!? Help me trust this is true and give me strength. One of the other verses from Psalm 103 she had us memorize says you forgive and heal and redeem our lives from the pit. I need you to save me from this pit, Jesus!

I wonder what hymns they’re singing at church today; I keep thinking about this one verse from one of my favorite ones:

Christ the Victorious, give to your servants
rest with your saints in the regions of light.
Grief and pain ended, and sighing no longer,
there may they find everlasting life

I can’t wait for that day Jesus! Bring me out of this pit I’m in. End the grief and pain. Give me a new song to sing because the only one in my heart right now is one of hopelessness and despair. And as I head off to sleep tonight, give me rest and strength, because I don’t know if I can live this life one more day.

Anna's Story, The Exodus Road

Could You Love Me Still? {Anna’s Story Continued}

When we last left off in Anna’s story, she was beginning to realize that something wasn’t quite right. As I share this week on behalf of the “Anna’s” in the world, I am filled with sadness. At the same time I am filled with praise for our Protector God whose heart is one filled with the desire to rescue. This was evidenced tonight in a personal way as we celebrate the return of Valencia to her home in Haiti after she had been kidnapped on February 13. I met Valencia when I was in Haiti two years ago. While her story is not connected at all with the work of The Exodus Road, for the past month that she has been missing, I have been trying, unsuccessfully to avoid wondering if perhaps little 10-year old Valencia was facing some of the same situations as the “Anna’s” in this world that those at The Exodus Road do work each day to save. I hope and pray that wasn’t the case in her captivity, but in everything I trust that our God’s hands were around Valencia every moment of every day. As I said before, our God is a God of rescue and I thank Him each day for organizations like The Exodus Road who carry out His mission. As you read the next segment in Anna’s story, please join me in giving praise for the rescues that happen each day and pray for all the Anna’s in the world still waiting for their freedom… Ask God to reveal His presence and give them hope in the waiting.

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Anna’s Story: Part One (Continued)– Sold and Trafficked

February 28, 2013 – Not really sure where
How could I be so stupid? How could I not see that this whole thing was too good to be true? They took my Bible!!! What am I going to do, God? At least they gave me back my journal and a few of the other things in my bag including my picture of Mama and the kids. I don’t even know where we are except that we were in China for a long time. It seems like we’ve been driving south and then we crossed another border. It’s been a while since I’ve been in school, but if I remember geography correctly, I’m guessing we’re either in Laos or Vietnam, maybe even Cambodia. What am I going to do, God? What am I going to do?

March 4, 2013
Dear God, finally some time to sneak away and spend time with You. I’m not even sure if you’re there, but I’ve got no other place to turn so I might as well turn here.

How can this be happening? Where are you in all of this? I don’t have my Bible anymore but somewhere near the end of Isaiah I remember you saying that you are always with me. How can that be true when I’ve ended up HERE!?! I thought life back in St. Petersburg was awful; it was nothing. The man who bought us he… well, he…. no, I can’t even write down what’s happened… it’s too much to bear… to horrible to write. If this is what Mama went through every night, I don’t know how she’s been able to keep going all these years. She always was so careful to protect us from all of this and here I am, trapped. Do you even love me God anymore? I feel so dirty and broken. How could you ever love me ever again? I knew all along that this wasn’t where you wanted me to go, but I went anyway. I thought I could help them with the money. I thought I could finally maybe go to school again. I thought… well, I thought, wrong.
I can’t help but cry as I remember what I’d tell Marta and Ruslan and Liza each night when they went to bed: “Jesus loves you; He always has and always will. Don’t ever forget that.” Is that still true for me, Jesus? Could you still love me, even now?

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“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? …Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39

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(Beautiful Valencia – Home again with her family!)

Anna's Story, The Exodus Road

America Here I Come! {Anna’s Story – Part 1b}

Last Monday we met Anna, a 15-year old girl from Russia just doing what she could to help support her mother and three siblings. (Read the first part of her journal here.) While Anna’s journal entries are fictional, what I write in them could very easily be a real life situation for one of the millions of people trafficked around the world each year. As you journey with Anna through her journal each week, think about the REAL “Annas ” out there and the struggles they likely face each day. Pray for them.

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February 25, 2013
So, God, I talked to Mama today about the flyer I saw in the window. She said that it seemed a little weird and maybe too good to be true, but also thought it would be an amazing opportunity for me. I could see hope in her eyes but, she fears me leaving. I don’t know what to do. As I talk to you about it, there isn’t peace, but I don’t even KNOW the last time I felt THAT, and this HAS to be the answer to my prayer, right? I mean, I saw the sign on my way home from CHURCH of all places. We need this money. I’m scared. Help me know what to do.

3 am
It’s never a good sign when Mama comes home early. I’ve made my decision. I HAVE to go to America. I have to do this for my family. Please be with me Jesus. I’m scared. Help me be able to say goodbye to Liza, Marta, and Ruslan without crying. And give Mama peace in all of this. I can tell she feels so guilty that she hasn’t been able to provide for us like she wants. I think that’s why she has such trouble talking to you or reading what you tell us in the Bible. She’s ashamed. Anyway, enough of that, my mind is made up. Even if Mama tries to keep me from going, I have to go! Help me get at least a little bit of sleep so that when I go to the bus stop tomorrow I look like a good, responsible young woman fit to be a nanny. I’m so thankful for your promise God that you are with me wherever I go. Remind me of that every day in this exciting journey!
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

February 26, 2013 – On a bus to catch our plane to AMERICA!!!
Well, here we are. This is really happening. I’m going to America! It’s so exciting and yet it was so hard to say goodbye. I managed not to cry too much when leaving Liza and Ruslan and Marta, but I just couldn’t help it when I said goodbye to Mama. The man who took our passports to arrange our flights seems very nice though and reassured Mama that we’d be able to write. Rumor has it with the other four girls on the bus with me that he may even give our families access to a phone to talk to us or at least let them know we made it safe to America.

It does seem to be taking us longer than I expected to get to the airport, but maybe it’s just bad traffic or something. I think I’m going to try to take a nap since I didn’t get much sleep last night. Guard and protect Mama and the kids. I worry about them tonight if Mama ends up having to go out. I wish Marta wouldn’t have take that on so young, but I guess that’s the way it will have to be until I can send the first money back. Help them know that you are always with them. Amen.

Later that day – still on the bus
I just woke up from my nap and something doesn’t seem right… first of all, it’s already dark out which means it must be well after dinner and all they’ve given us to eat was a few crackers. We’ve had to be traveling for at least 9 hours and it looks like a CHINESE man at the front of the bus right now. It’s hard to see from back here but I think the man who took our passports when we got on the bus just gave them to that Chinese man in exchange for some money. What’s happening, God!?! Please keep us safe!

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Come back next week to hear what happens to Anna and in the mean time, check out The Exodus Road and the work they are doing to fight human trafficking and rescue those enslaved.

Anna's Story, The Exodus Road

My Friend Anna…

Today, as part of my commitment to blog for rescue, I wanted to begin telling you the story of my friend, Anna. While Anna’s story I’ll write about here on my blog is fictional, the events of her life are reality for many in the world. Anna’s life represents one of the 27 million slaves The Exodus Road and other organizations seek to rescue from the horrific reality of human trafficking. Anna could be your daughter or sister or friend. Anna could be you. Each Monday, we’ll get a glimpse into Anna’s prayer journal and see how easily someone can find themselves trapped in a horrible situation with no hope for rescue… but hold on Anna, RESCUE IS COMING!

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Anna’s Story: Part One – Sold and Trafficked – St. Petersburg, Russia

February 18, 2013
Dear God,
Well, I turned 15 today. Part of me wants to thank you for those 15 years of life. The other part is just filled with worry of what the years ahead will hold. But anyway, it was a good day! Mama even managed to take some time to have a small celebration with me, Marta, Ruslan, and Liza before heading out for work tonight. We didn’t have much to celebrate with, but ever since I started working at the bread shop 2 years ago, at least we have food on the table most nights and we thank you for that God.

Be with Mama tonight, God. I know I pray for that every night, but worry about her so much. I worry what the men will do to her; even worse, I worry that she won’t find enough men who want her and then she gets in trouble with the owners. Does she really think I believe the lies she tries to use to cover up what she does? I see the bruises. I see the pain in her eyes each morning when she comes home. I guess I should be used to it by now, but I feel like there must be a better way. I trust that you love us, Jesus, but sometimes it’s hard when I see what mama goes through. I also worry so much for my younger siblings. They won’t believe the lies much longer either, especially Marta, she’s old enough to start putting the pieces together. Soon she’ll probably have to go out and find a job as well. I had to give up my dreams of going to college, but I don’t want her to have to too. God, please, show me how I can help. There has to be a better way. Help us, Jesus. Help me find a better job to be able to help my family!

Well, I should probably go check on Liza and Ruslan. Keep us safe tonight God and bring Mama home safe as well. Bless the next year in my life and thank you for one more day to be alive.
In Jesus’ Name I Pray, Amen.

February 21, 2013
Oh Papa! As you know, Mama had a bad night last night. She couldn’t even pick up little Liza as she ran to give Mama a hug when she came home this morning. Something has to change. She can’t do this any more. Pastor always says to pray big, bold prayers. So God, I ask tonight for you to give me another job, one that makes more than the one at the bread shop. Mama can’t keep doing this night after night and as the oldest I need to do more. So give me a job, Jesus. In Your Name I Pray, Amen.

February 24, 2013
Jesus!
Could it be true?!? Are already be answering my prayers for something more I could do. It was just two days ago when I asked for a better job, one that would give us enough money so Mama wouldn’t have to keep going out night after night. And there it was, on my way home from church this morning, the sign in the window of the store:

Nanny’s Needed!
Includes a Free Trip to America
Pay: $1000/month

I couldn’t believe it God. It seems too good to be true, but I know how to take care of kids I’ve taken care of Marta and Ruslan and Liza since papa left. I’ll be a great Nanny. And I’ve always wanted to go to America. And the money… Oh Jesus… with $1,000 a month Mama could quit her job and move with the children to a safer place in town. She could get the medicine she needs for all the illnesses she’s gotten from having to sleep with all the different men each night. She could get better! And maybe I’d be so good, I could get a raise and then bring them all to America to live with me! I can’t wait to tell Mama when she gets home! Keep her safe tonight, Jesus. In Your Name I pray, Amen!

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Come back next Monday for more of Anna’s story.